Connor Pradere picking up where his brother left off
The name Pradere has been a common one around the Carson High football program since 2009.
Brock Pradere played four years of football, two on varsity, for the Senators. He caught 42 passes in his career for 535 yards and six scores, all of those TDs coming in his senior season back in 2011 when Carson compiled a 10-2 record and reached the state semifinals at Mackay Stadium.
Now, it’s time for his younger brother, Connor, to take center stage.
Connor Pradere grabbed 24 passes for 376 yards and four scores a year ago while sharing time at wide receiver with Dilyn Rooker. He has assumed the No. 1 spot this year, and carries the bulk of the workload when Carson opens the 2015 season Saturday at 7 p.m. at Mackay Stadium against defending regional champion Reed.
There’s no sibling rivalry in this family.
“I learned a lot from Brock,” Connor said earlier this week. “Just growing up with him, everyday we’d go out and play football or whiffle ball. Once I got to high school, and especially when I started playing varsity, I could ask him questions and he’d answer them. He is always there for me.”
Both have good hands according to coach Blair Roman. He said they are different types of receivers.
“Connor has worked hard in the weight room and is a really good athlete,” Carson coach Blair Roman said. “He has a little more hip flexibility than Brock had. Brock was good at going up and outreaching defenders for the ball. Connor is a different type of athlete.”
Translation. Connor, at least at the high school level, may be quicker than his older brother at this stage of his career.
“Not to take anything away from Brock, but in high school at least, Connor seems to be a little quicker than Brock was, but Brock was a bit stronger,” said CHS assistant coach Steve Dilley, who coached the older Pradere. “Early on, we’ll be relying on Connor. We are a little thin at wide receiver. Gage (Gunzberg) is coming along, though, but it’s new to him.”
Pradere said his strengths are his quickness and route running. He said Scott Witter, current CHS receivers coach, was instrumental in his development.
“My sophomore year (on JV), all I played was wide receiver,” Connor Pradere said. “I was just running routes all the time, and I got really good at it.”
Pradere’s junior season got off to a slow start — five catches for 109 yards through five games. Against Clayton Valley Charter, Damonte Ranch and North Valleys, he didn’t have a reception.
His fortunes, and the team’s for that matter, changed when Joe Nelson was moved into the starting quarterback spot. Nolan Shine was moved full-time to defense. The change was key to Carson’s run to the Sierra League title, its fifth title in seven years under Roman.
Of Pradere’s 24 receptions, 19 of them came in the last six games when Nelson was under center, Carson was 5-1 in that span, its only loss coming against Reed in the regional finals, 28-25.
“It (the relationship) started last year,” Pradere said. “We play the same sports, so we’re always hanging out. He’ll ask me whether I was open on a certain play or not.”
“Connor and I hang out a lot,” Nelson said. “I think Dilyn (Rooker) was Nolan’s guy. They were used to each other. Connor and I have always had good chemistry. He catches everything I throw to him.”
Pradere’s job isn’t just catching passes. He also has to block, and plays a key role in the success of a couple of plays.
“When a run play comes to my side, I’m usually the last block; the one that can spring them,” said the CHS senior. “I have to be ready.”
Pradere’s breakout game last year came against Douglas (49-6 win) when he caught four passes for 109 yards, including a 61-yard TD.
“That was a really good one,” he said. Prader added he has no individual goals for this season. Instead he sets weekly goals, and they aren’t always stat related.
The main difference between the brothers is Brock was a key defensive player, especially his senior year when he had four interceptions, including a 100-yarder against Galena, and more than 50 tackles.
Connor Pradere is a back-up free safety behind Asa Carter. Pradere did have an interception against Reno in Saturday’s scrimmage, and showed he’s more than capable of helping the team on defense.
“I would hope so (that we have him on defense a little),” Dilley said. “We’ll use him if we need to rest Asa (Carter). I have full confidence that he could play cornerback or strong safety, but he will probably focus more on offense.”
“I’d like to play some defense,” Pradere said. “I’d go out and help the team wherever they needed me on defense.”