After playing together at San Benito High, Hunter Nye and Hunter Raquet have taken their skills to Monterey Peninsula College. Playing at the community college level is a big step up from the high school game, but Nye and Raquet have worked hard—no surprise there—and established themselves as starters for a Lobos team that is 2-2 entering Saturday’s game against Merced.
In a 51-27 win over Gavilan last week, Raquet threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, while Nye rushed for 129 yards, including an electrifying 79-yard TD run. Safe to say, things have come together for the duo, who carpool everyday from Hollister to Monterey with fellow 2017 San Benito High graduate Alex Soto.
“My goal is to keep on building with each game,” said Raquet, who ran for 115 yards and threw for 149 more in a 34-13 win over San Jose City on Sept. 16. “I knew coming into the season that I had to pick up everything really fast. I wanted to start; my goal was not to sit on the bench.”
Nye and Raquet had tough tasks coming in, as they were competing for starting spots against returning starters. However, both players showed they deserved the starting spot at their respective positions. The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Nye had to recover from off-season shoulder surgery before tackling summer workouts and the MPC playbook.
Once Nye mastered his assignments, he took off—literally. On Nye’s 79-yard TD run, he noticed one of the Gavilan linemen slanting on the inside.
“I knew our O-line had to block down, and I had to hit the hole hard off left tackle,” Nye said. “I got to the linebackers and ran past them into the open field. Once I learned all the plays, I could read where the defense is and where my blockers are going to be. Then I could focus on making cutbacks behind my lead blocker. … I’m still running hard and breaking tackles.”
Unlike in high school, when Raquet was operating a run-heavy offense, the 6-4, 193-pounder has plenty of more opportunities to throw with the Lobos. Raquet has plenty of responsibility in MPC’s run-pass-option offense, as he can run, pitch the ball to a running back or throw it to a receiver, depending on what the defense is giving him. Raquet has been able to display his wide array of skills and athleticism this season, having matured both physically and mentally as a college freshman. He said earning the trust of his teammates as one of the pivotal points to his success.
“Teammates know what I can do, and they believe in me,” said Raquet, who alternated reps with Jordan Bernal in the first couple of games. “They’ve gotten behind me, which makes things easier. … I think football is business as usual, in that you have to work hard everyday. But I get to throw the ball a lot more this year, and that’s been nice. I’d like to thank Hollister coach Bryan Smith for always getting in my ear to keep grinding.”
A durable, powerful and tough player, Nye has carried over his work ethic and battering ram ways from San Benito to MPC. Even though Nye is colliding with players who are heavier, he still manages to break tackles, especially on first contact. Both players gained 10 to 15 pounds of muscle in the last year, a downright necessity as they moved up to the college level.
“I did a ton of weight lifting and really built off that,” Raquet said.
“The extra weight and strength has helped me a lot when I have to help block defensive ends or go head to head with linebackers,” Nye said.
Nye and Raquet spend plenty of time together—in addition to carpooling, they have all the same classes. The two both received interest from smaller out of state four-year schools, but neither were in those options. When it came to MPC, Raquet loved the fact that Lobos coach Mike Rasmussen was honest about his chances of transferring after just one season (Raquet had a 3.5 GPA at San Benito). While not commonplace, some players at the community college level in great academic standing transfer after one season.
“Coach sat me down and gave me the real deal,” Raquet said. “He didn’t sugarcoat things and say that he could guarantee he could get me out by December. I liked that because I wanted someone to be real with me.”
As both players were going through the recruiting process, they realized MPC would be the best fit.
“Knowing Hunter and I play well together, it was another advantage for us to stay together and go to MPC,” Nye said.
Said Raquet: “It’s great playing together because we can back each other up, just like we did in Hollister. In the end, it worked out for both of us.”