Scott Sanders used to receive regular messages from longtime friend Brooke Knight.
Brooke’s son, Briley Knight, was the star quarterback for Coronado High in the San Diego area. Opposing defenses were no match for the mobile 5-foot-9 athlete.
“Brooke would tell me to check Briley out on Hudl, and of course I’d do it,” said Sanders, Crescent Valley High’s 11th-year football coach. Briley Knight is now a senior slot receiver and defensive back for the fifth-seeded Raiders (9-1), who will head to Eugene on Friday night to face No. 4 Churchill (10-0) in the 5A state quarterfinals.
“I would watch Briley’s highlights back when he was never going to come to Crescent Valley. We knew the type of playmaker he was.”
With Knight taking the snaps, Coronado captured the 2015 California Interscholastic Federation section championship and advanced to the Division IV-AA state championship. The following season, he was the Central League offensive player of the year.
Little did Sanders know, Knight would soon be moving north to try and win another title for his dad’s alma mater.
“I was at the Pac-12 basketball tournament and Brooke says, ‘hey, we’ve got the moving truck and we’re on our way,’” Sanders remembered. “And I just thought he was pulling my leg. But he had talked to Briley about it and they just wanted to get back up to the Northwest.”
The Knights relocated to Corvallis prior to the 2017 baseball season, allowing Briley to play for coach Ryan Starwalt as a junior. He went on to win Mid-Willamette Conference player of the year as the Raiders made it to the state semifinals.
“I started hanging out with the football and baseball guys before I even stepped foot in the school,” said Briley Knight, who signed a national letter of intent Wednesday morning to play baseball at Utah. “That made a huge difference for me when I finally went to school. All these guys welcomed me with a big hug, and I’ve been loving every single part of it.”
The success in baseball has carried over to the football field.
CV got off to an 8-0 start and won a share of the MWC championship. The Raiders opened the playoffs last Friday with a 42-7 thumping of No. 12 Marist, an opponent they struggled with for a half in Week 1.
It was a coming-out party for Knight, who hauled in four passes for a season-high 152 yards and a touchdown. Knight also played lockdown defense at corner and was 6-for-6 on point-after attempts.
“Briley’s kind of a utility piece for us,” said junior quarterback Sawyer Cleveland. “He’s a great person to have because we can throw him out at receiver and he’ll catch touchdowns. Then he can go in and play wildcat quarterback, he can throw. He’s just an all-around great player.”
The shifty Knight has 31 catches for 534 yards and four TDs this season. He has also run for four scores and passed for two.
For his efforts, Knight was named first-team all-MWC at kicker and received honorable mention at receiver and kick returner.
Prior to the move, Knight had played quarterback for three seasons at Coronado. Switching to receiver required patience.
“I have always been about whatever it takes to help the team win,” he said. “I went over that with coach (Jim) Thomas and we had a big talk. I just told him that I honestly didn’t care where I played, I just wanted to win a state championship and I’d do whatever that took. And right now, I’m loving what I’m doing.”
Brooke Knight, manager of the Corvallis Knights baseball team, is a 1990 CV graduate. He played quarterback as a senior for the Raiders in a wide-open attack that featured receivers Kevin Hooker and Kevin Marshall.
The elder Knight was a gunslinger.
“We actually started with an option offense the first two or three games,” Brooke Knight said. “Then we went shotgun the rest of the year when shotgun wasn’t cool and threw 50 times a game. We put up plenty of points, but I didn’t always find the guy wearing the same color uniform.”
Brooke Knight’s mortgage business, Knight Financial, has been based in Corvallis since 2005. Knight said that proximity to his clients, who mostly reside in Portland, Salem and Corvallis, played a role in the decision to relocate.
Before moving to California in 2011, the Knights had resided in West Linn and Wilsonville.
“Briley was really raised as a Northwest kid,” Brooke Knight said. “Knowing who the coaches at CV were played a role, because I trust Starwalt and Sanders. It was just a neat opportunity.”
To match the baseball team’s postseason run, CV must get by Churchill in Friday’s quarterfinals.
The Lancers own 5A’s top scoring offense at 50.3 points per game and allow just 15.7 defensively. Other than a 40-35 victory at ninth-seeded Thurston, Churchill has won every game by 20 or more points.
“Churchill is a lot like us,” Sanders said. “They have that good run game and they go for home runs. That’s the reason they are 10-0.
“It’s going to seem like an inter-squad scrimmage out there Friday night. Our offenses are really similar and they have an attacking-style defense, so I just think it’s going to come down to who wants it more.”