When a skill player steps on the football field without the high-tech gloves nearly every skill guy wears, you know they mean business.
Kaden Tynes means business and he looks like it on the football field, with no gloves, oversized shoulder pads and a banged up helmet.
The Arroyo Grande High senior played at a high level football at running back and linebacker for 12 games this past fall and he played every down without gloves.
"A lot of people told me I should wear gloves," Tynes said after a game last season. "But I tried wearing gloves at practice one time and I dropped like three balls in a row. I'm very superstitious and I like to go with what my friends call 'No drip.'"
Tynes doesn't look like he has any drip on the field, with no gloves or any other extra protective gear, but he certainly has game. Though he looks like a throwback, he played like some of the better players of this era.
Tynes rushed for 981 yards and 15 touchdowns on 118 carries last season, averaging 8.3 yards per rush, using his rare blend of speed and power. He also added 308 yards receiving and four more touchdowns for the Eagles. He finished the year with 1,289 yards of offense, 1,554 all-purpose yards and 21 total touchdowns.
For his efforts on the field this year, Tynes has been selected as the Santa Maria Times' All-Area Offensive Player of the Year. Tynes was chosen by Times sports editor Joe Bailey.
Tynes had five games of at least 150 all-purpose yards this past season. In a 42-14 win over San Luis Obispo, Tynes had 160 yards from scrimmage. Then came the third game of the season, one of the most memorable games of the year. As the Eagles rallied to beat Lompoc 48-47, Tynes recorded 362 yards of offense and three touchdowns. He recorded the bulk of his season receiving totals, finishing with 221 yards through the air. He also rushed for 141 yards. He scored three receiving touchdowns.
After some middling results in wins over Madera Torres and Pioneer Valley, Tynes had his worst game of the season, recording just 11 rushing yards in a 39-21 loss to St. Joseph. He then rebounded in a wild 39-35 come-from-behind win over Righetti, rushing for 109 yards and adding 39 receiving yards, scoring twice.
Tynes then added 159 yards of offense and five touchdowns in perhaps the Eagles' best win of the season, a 62-35 beatdown of Paso Robles that helped Arroyo Grande clinch a share of the Mountain League title.
Tynes then had 92 yards rushing in a playoff win over Madera before finishing his prep career with 120 yards rushing and receiving in a playoff loss to Washington Union. Tynes scored a touchdown in 11 of the Eagles' 12 games this season and actually scored in every game, recording a safety in the season-opening loss to Bakersfield Frontier.
The 5-foot-10, 190-pound pinball finished the year with 128 points scored, with 15 rushing touchdowns, four receiving, one on an interception return and another on a kick return.
Tynes put up gaudy offensive stats while also starting at linebacker for the Eagles. He had 92 total tackles (44 solo) with seven tackles-for-loss, four sacks, an interception, and a blocked kick.
Tynes had plenty of competition for the OPOY award, even from teammate Makai Puga, who racked up 1,909 all-purpose yards and 1,169 yards of offense and 17 touchdowns. Puga was named the Mountain League MVP for this past season. Tynes and Puga worked well together this past season.
"We have this inside joke that he's the Kareem Hunt to my Nick Chubb," Tynes said, referring to the standout running back duo for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. "We like to joke around about that. Makai has been my brother since JV, proud to call him my teammate."
Lompoc quarterback Cavin Ross accounted for 30 touchdowns (26 passing and four rushing) to also garner consideration for the Times' Offensive Player of the Year award.