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Take 2

A different spin on sports by The Seattle Times staff and readers.

November 28, 2013 at 12:20 PM

Budda Baker, Chico McClatcher: Sizing up 2 big-time recruits

Budda Baker of Bellevue, left, and Chico McClatcher of Federal Way, middle, gather with other members of the Star Times football offense as Seattle Times photographer Ken Lambert checks IDs.  Seattle Times staff photo by Don Shelton

Budda Baker of Bellevue, left, and Chico McClatcher of Federal Way, middle with arms folded, gather for a photo with members of the Star Times football defense. Seattle Times staff photographer Ken Lambert, right, checks IDs.
Photo by Don Shelton

The Seattle Times earlier this week hosted its 38th Star Times all-area football luncheon, along with a luncheon for volleyball and girls soccer.

I’m always impressed with not only the caliber of athletes honored but the kind of people they are. This year is no exception.

Without giving too much away – the teams are being unveiled Wednesday and Thursday in the print and online editions of The Seattle Times – it was a chance for me to talk to and size up two of the top football recruits in years in the area, running backs Budda Baker of Bellevue and Chico McClatcher of Federal Way. Baker, a senior, is being sought after by the hometown Huskies and a long list of other major-college programs. Ditto for McClatcher, who is only a junior and will be featured in a story by Sandy Ringer in Friday’s Times.

Both are impressive athletes versatile enough to return kicks and punts for head-turning touchdowns, though neither is very big. Both both light up a room when they walk in. Their personalities draw other athletes to them. They have the “it” factor. Chico reminded me most of a young Nate Robinson, our Seattle Times Male Athlete of the Year in 2002. Small package, but big personality and enormous talent.

Baker and McClatcher aren’t the only star athletes to make Star Times, of course. The room was filled with high-powered recruits in all three sports. In football, Austin Joyner, another junior running back who made the team. I spent some time talking to Joyner, who recently verbally committed to Washington, and his father at the luncheon. Nice people.

Ken Lambert shoots a photo of the 2013 Star Times all-area football defense at The Seattle Times' North Creek printing facility in Bothell.  Photo by Don Shelton

Ken Lambert shoots a photo of the 2013 Star Times all-area football offense at The Seattle Times’ North Creek printing facility in Bothell.
Photo by Don Shelton

I won’t give any more names away. You’ll just have to wait until next week.

Just as impressive were the volleyball and girls soccer teams. Football draws more attention, but Seattle is fast becoming a soccer and volleyball hot bed, and the talent of the young women who made our teams reflect that.

We hosted the luncheons and photo shoots Monday and Tuesday at our North Creek printing facility in Bothell. The photos were shot around our giant, state-of-the-art presses, so the team portraits should be interesting. I’m posting a few behind-the-scenes shots to whet your appetite.

Star Times is The Seattle Times’ all-area selections in team sports. It is composed largely of players from high schools in King and Snohomish counties. Star Times was born in 1978, playing off the “Star Wars” movies. Six “Star Wars” movies later, Star Times is still going.

I’ve worked at The Seattle Times for more than 26 years, and oversaw our high-school coverage during my first two decades, so I was largely in charge of the luncheons. I’ve only missed a couple of them during that span, so even though I was promoted to sports editor in 2009, I still love going and meeting the athletes, coaches and families.

Ken Lambert of The Seattle Times shoots a photo of two selections to the Star Times volleyball and girls soccer team on the presses at The Seattle Times' North Creek printing facility in Bothell.

Ken Lambert of The Seattle Times shoots a photo of two selections to the Star Times volleyball and girls soccer team on the presses at The Seattle Times’ North Creek printing facility in Bothell.

I’ve seen a ton of great athletes come through during that span. In football, Corey Dillon of Franklin, Taylor Mays of O’Dea, Kasen Williams of Skyline and Myles Jack of Bellevue are just a few of the players selected on my watch. Before that, Anthony Allen of Garfield, Steve and Scott Pelluer of Interlake (who we just had in Wednesday for an Apple Cup live chat), Chris Chandler of Everett and Greg Lewis of Ingraham were Star Times picks. It’s a pretty impressive list.

Look for the four color Star Times pages next Wednesday and Thursday and a full presentation on seattletimes.com.

Want to be a reader contributor to The Seattle Times’ Take 2 blog? Email your original, previously unpublished work or proposal to Sports Editor Don Shelton at dshelton@seattletimes.com or sports@seattletimes.com. Not all submissions can be published. The Times reserves the right to edit and publish any submissions online and/or in print.

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