BELLEVUE — Whenever and wherever Bellevue High School’s Budda Baker steps foot onto the football field, there is a good chance you’re going to witness something truly special from him.
His speed and quickness is so elite, it’s almost unfair. Opposing quarterbacks rarely throw to his side on defense. Every time he touches the football, he has the chance to take it the distance.
Baker, a running back, safety and special-teams returner, is the top football player in Washington. He is also the Northwest’s top senior recruit. And he is The News Tribune’s 2013 all-state player of the year.
“Every high school kid loves to play Friday nights. They just love it. But this kid, I’ve never seen him have a bad practice,” Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff said. “You can’t tell the difference between practice Monday at 3:15 and Friday at 7 o’clock. He practices the same way. It’s incredible.
“I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Baker is the definition of a game-changer, even if he has taken limited carries this season because of Bellevue’s blowout victories. He’s rushed 35 times for 600 yards, and scored 12 touchdowns.
Throw in what he’s done on defense and special teams, Baker leads the Wolverines with 16 total touchdowns.
“I always go 100 percent every play,” Baker said. “When I have film of me, I’m always going 100 percent. Never anything less than that.”
Baker’s raw ability alone isn’t what sets him apart. It’s his attention to the details and drive to keep improving that allows him to shine on game days.
“You see a lot of guys that have great ability that get by because they’re just better than everyone else. That’s not him. He not only has that ability but he has that rare gift that pushes him,” Goncharoff said.
Baker has been pulled early nearly in nearly every game. He’s helped coach the younger players from the sidelines. Baker said it’s a bit frustrating to not playing the entire game because he wants to compete, but the victories are plenty rewarding.
Bellevue is gunning for its sixth consecutive Class 3A title on Friday night against Eastside Catholic, and is currently on a state-record 53-game winning streak.
“At the end of the day, all I want is to win,” Baker said.
2013 NEWS TRIBUNE ALL-STATE FOOTBALL TEAM
Pos. Player, School, Ht., Wt., Year
QB Brett Rypien Shadle Park 6-2 175 Jr.
- Passed for 4,230 yards and 57 TDs; also reset state single-game mark (613) in 2013.
RB Myles Gaskin O’Dea 5-9 185 Jr.
- Metro League co-MVP torpedoes through creases for big plays; offers from UW, WSU.
RB Teague James Graham-Kapowsin 5-11 175 Sr.
- With smooth gliding style, All-Area player of the year was money (2,055 yards, 29 TDs)
RB Austin Joyner Marysville-Pilchuck 5-11 185 Jr.
- Despite injuries, UW commit still averaged 15.1 yards per carry (1,511 yards, 21 TDs).
WR Zach Eagle Camas 5-8 170 Sr.
- GSHL 4A’s top two-way skill guy is open-space menace (64 catches, 1,253 yards, 13 TDs).
WR Deion Singleton Chiawana 6-1 165 Sr.
- Transfer from Florida is speed demon – and MCC MVP (45 catches, 838 yards, nine TDs).
TE Nick Kiourkas Shadle Park 6-2 205 Sr.
- This all-GSL performer caught a TD pass in 11 of 13 games (63 catches, 888 yards, 14 TDs).
OL Drew Clarkson Camas 6-4 275 Sr.
- Cancer survivor, Oregon State commit and all-GHSL 4A anchor lineman – what a season.
OL Morgan Richey Bellevue 6-4 275 Sr.
- Doesn’t want to just block you, the all-KingCo 3A offensive tackle wants to run you over.
OL Foster Sarell Graham-Kapowsin 6-6 300 Fr.
- SPSL South lineman of year played like a college freshman at left tackle, not ninth grader.
OL Austin Striplin Sumner 6-3 250 Sr.
- Pulverizing offensive guard named SPSL 2A’s two-way player of the year again in 2013.
AP Chico McClatcher Federal Way 5-9 180 Jr.
- Game-breaking tailback (1,549 yards, 20 TDs) has scored in every way; SPSL South MVP.
PK Jake Masters Lake Washington 6-0 150 Sr.
- All-KingCo 3A kicker had perfect season – 8-for-8 on FGs (long of 52), 24-for-24 on PATs.
Pos. Player, School, Ht., Wt., Year
DL Nick Foerstel Tumwater 6-3 220 Sr.
- Front four was engine for stout defense, led by this all-EvCo defensive end (10 sacks).
DL Marcus Griffin Bellevue 6-3 300 Sr.
- Semper Fidelis All-American was leader of defense’s run-game shutdown effort (60.0 ypg).
DL Elisha Pa’aga Eastside Catholic 5-10 255 Sr.
- Nimble feet and low center of gravity make it impossible to knock all-Metro star off spot.
DL Josh Wright Skyline 6-2 220 Sr.
- Disrupts so much off the edge, KingCo 4A defensive player of the year had 16 sacks.
LB Michael DiGenova Camas 6-2 205 Sr.
- Pure aggression, GSHL 4A defensive MVP had three fumbles returns for TDs in one game.
LB Jack Flor O’Dea 6-2 215 Sr.
- Metro Mountain defensive MVP plays middle linebacker like NFL legend Jack Lambert.
LB Jaremy Martin Lynden 6-3 255 Sr.
- All he does is make tackles (1061/2); broke Tim Hanson’s single-season school record (105).
LB Alex Weber Chiawana 6-2 225 Sr.
- Rock in middle of 4A’s best defense, he is reigning two-time MCC defensive player of year.
DB Keenan Curran Federal Way 6-2 180 Sr.
- A two-way backfield blur, free safety is his best position – and led SPSL 4A with five INTs.
DB Cole Karstetter Ferris 5-11 180 Sr.
- He was a 1,000-yard rusher at tailback, but earned GSL defensive MVP honors at safety.
DB Sam McPherson Bothell 5-11 190 Jr.
- As KingCo 4A Crest MVP on both sides of the ball, what didn’t he do? Had six INTs.
DB Brady Widner Zillah 6-0 180 Sr.
- Two-time all-state cornerback is one of best in 1A; leaves Leopards with 19 career INTs.
P Tyler Dionne Union 6-5 220 Jr.
- GSHL 4A punter of the year has strong leg (booted 64-yarder); also standout receiver.
Player of the year: Budda Baker, Bellevue
Coach of the year: Curt Kramme, Lynden
Todd Milles and Kevin Manning, staff writers