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Camarillo’s Kotake prepping for a big season on the gridiron

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© Iris Smoot/Acorn Newspapers
Camarillo High tailback Conrad Kotake, left, maneuvers around teammate Jameson Sperling at practice. © Iris Smoot/Acorn Newspapers
Take one wrong step and Conrad Kotake will make a devastating shake- and- bake move—and then he’s gone.

An incoming senior running back and wide receiver for the Camarillo High football team, Kotake uses his speed and quickness to elude the grasp of gasping defenders.

Although he’s sinewy and strong, Kotake will never be mistaken for a bruiser in the mold of Bronko Nagurski.

At 5-foot-8 and 145 pounds, Kotake resembles diminutive Darren Sproles on the field.

“He’s a game-break type of player,” Camarillo head coach Dennis Riedmiller said of Kotake.

The Scorpion’s role is expected to expand this fall.

Kotake started every game last year, and the 17-year-old is expected to earn a majority of carries in the backfield, along with returning kicks and punts.

Kotake has enjoyed working out with his teammates during the summer passing league tournaments.

“We’re jelling as a team,” he said between football and basketball practices. “I’m having a great time with my teammates. It’s been a fun summer hanging out with them.”

The Scorpion said he’s focusing on gaining more strength and muscle. He’d like to get his playing weight up to 155-160 pounds.

A third-year varsity player, Kotake will help a third quarterback adjust to the offense.

The Scorpions had tremendous success under center with Jeff Mathews in 2009 and Zandro Diaz in 2010.

Travis Valdez has been getting reps this summer, and Kotake said he will do what he can to take pressure off the signal-caller.

“He looks pretty good,” Kotake said of Valdez. “He’s still learning, but it seems like he’s jelling with the program.”

Against Oxnard last season, Kotake nabbed a pass from Diaz, split two defenders and bolted 87 yards for a game- sealing touchdown.

Camarillo fans can expect more thrilling moments from Kotake this fall.

“That’s what he’s going to do for us,” Riedmiller said. “He’s that kind of explosive player. He’s fun to watch. He’s a lot of fun to watch.”

The Scorpions enjoy having Kotake on their side of the trenches.

“He’s always there at practice and he works hard,” said wide receiver Jake Maulhardt, who has spent almost every day this summer at the Kotake home.

“ He does everything you could ask. He’s not the vocal leader, but he leads by example.”

Maulhardt and Kotake first played together on an AAU club basketball team in the third grade.

Riedmiller said Kotake is a positive, supportive teammate.

“Conrad has a great sense of humor,” the coach said. “He’s a good kid. Since his freshman year, he’s done a good job opening up, coming out of that shell a little bit. I know his friends really enjoy his company. Coachingwise, he’s a pleasure to have. He will do anything you ask of him.

“He’s always smiling. He’s always in a good mood. That’s contagious— that’s what we want.”

Kotake racked up 327 rushing yards on 58 totes for a robust 5.6-yards-per-carry average as a junior. He added 323 yards receiving with six total touchdowns.

In 2010, the Scorpions went 4- 0 when Kotake rushed for 50 yards or more on the ground.

A point guard on the basketball team, Kotake’s an honors student with a 3.5 grade-point average.

The son of Carole and Craig, Kotake has two older sisters: Samantha, 21, and Elizabeth, 22, who starred in track and basketball at La Reina.

Kotake is looking forward to a special senior season.

“I like playing football on Friday nights,” he said. “I like hanging out with my teammates. From my freshman year to now, on and off the field, we’ve become closer.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to have a great year.”

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