High School Football

Atwater, Modesto and Downey players garner Player with Drive scholarship awards

Player with Drive Scholarships awarded in Modesto

Three Stanislaus District football players shared a combined $10,000 in scholarship money from to Central Valley Automotive.
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Three Stanislaus District football players shared a combined $10,000 in scholarship money from to Central Valley Automotive.

Combining excellence on and off the playing field, three Stanislaus District football players shared a combined $10,000 in scholarship money thanks to Central Valley Automotive in Modesto.

Atwater High running back/wide receiver Darius Hyde, Modesto High’s all-everything Grant Sutter and Downey High center Jackson Betz were the three finalists for the Central Valley Automotive Player with Drive Scholarship.

At a ceremony at the dealership on McHenry Avenue on Thursday afternoon, Hyde received top honors, taking home $5,000 for his academic future. Sutter was awarded $3,000 and Betz $2,000.

“The three athletes we are recognizing are not only fantastic on the field, but what they’re able to accomplish off the field in the classroom and .... with any community work is what we’re recognizing here tonight,” said Brent Gardner, vice president/sales director at the dealership on Modesto’s McHenry Avenue.

Hyde rushed for 164 yards, and caught 27 passes for 417 yards. He scored seven touchdowns in leading the Falcons to a 5-5 season. Off the field, he accumulated a 4.3 grade-point average, taking mostly AP courses, was the senior vice president, a member of the biology club and was active in various on-campus and community programs.

“He’s a smallish kid who played big on Friday night,” Atwater coach Seneca Ybarra said of Hyde. “Because of his intelligence, he grasped the spread offense quickly.”

His father said Hyde has received offers from seven out-of-state schools, but is awaiting word on UCLA, UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara, which usually send out letters of admittance in late February or early March.

Sutter, meanwhile, played free safety, spent time mostly as a blocking wide receiver and was the team’s long snapper.

“He pretty much never left the field,” said his coach, Brett Wagner. “He was a leader on the field, helping to call defensive coverages. He was one of the smartest kids on the football field I’ve seen.”

In the International Baccalaureate program at Modesto, he carried a 4.62 GPA, was ASB president, an Eagle scout and volunteer in various community projects and also was the farming manager on his family’s walnut farm.

His dad said Sutter is pointing to either UCLA or Stanford.

Betz, meanwhile, was the centerpiece of a Downey offensive line that helped his quarterbacks throw for more than 3,000 yards and running backs rush for close to 2,000. He helped lead the Knights to a Sac-Joaquin Section road playoff victory over Grant, the first time in about two decades that a Modesto public school had won a playoff game on the road.

In 331 passing attempts, Downey quarterbacks were sacked just nine times.

Headed to Sacramento State as a preferred walk-on, Betz had a 3.85 GPA, and donated his time in various community efforts, including Habitat for Humanity, Love Modesto and was a server at the Salvation Army.

His coach, Jeremy Plaa, lauded Betz’s work ethic, which helped him come back from a broken leg his junior year to earn a spot on The Bee’s All-District football team.

“(He) trained hard right away (after the injury) and that’s why he had such a great senior year,” Plaa said.

This is the third year Central Valley Automotive has offered the Player with Drive scholarship. The previous two winners were tight end Gabe Sanchez of Gregori High and Dominic Barandica of Gregori.


Past Central Valley Player with Drive Scholarship winners

2018: Darius Hyde, Atwater ($5,000); Grant Sutter, Modesto ($2,000); Jackson Betz, Downey ($2,000).

2017: Gabe Sanchez, Gregori ($5,000), Bobby Avina, Gregori ($3,000); Gino Campiotti, Manteca ($2,000).

2016: Dominic Barandica, Gregori ($5,000); Jared Rice, Central Catholic ($3,000); and Rachel Smith, Modesto Christian (2,000).

Editor Brian Clark has worked at The Modesto Bee since 1990. He’s worked in various departments, including sports, news and on the digital side for a decade before being promoted to editor in 2018. He’s a native of Berkeley and a graduate of San Diego State University. Prior to The Bee, Brian worked at the Turlock Journal and Las Vegas Review-Journal.