Brentwood’s Vickless earns Mark Reider Award
By: Ray Fisher
Monday, June 11, 2018 | 5:30 PM
Evan Vickless was listed as a 5-foot-10, 160-pound running back/defensive back on the Brentwood football roster.
Although not too big in terms of stature, he stands tall in the athletic arena.
Vickless, who competed in football, basketball and track and field in high school, was this year's winner of the Mark Reider Award.
Vickless and Brittany Stewart were lauded as Brentwood's top senior athletes in 2017-18. They were honored at the 62nd annual Brentwood High Athletic Boosters all-sports banquet held May 29 at Brentwood High School.
“Winning the award is a big honor,” Vickless said. “There are some people on this list who were spectacular athletes, and I'm just thankful that my name will be right up there with all those names.”
Vickless lettered four years in football, three in basketball and twice in track and field.
He was a first team all-conference selection in football in his senior year, and received honorable mention all-conference laurels as a junior. He was a three-year starter at defensive back, and two-year starter at running back.
“Evan's a great kid. He's a stand-up, very respectful kid,” said Kevin Kissel, Brentwood's football coach. “He was always ready to go; he was on the field for every play. And he gave you everything he's got. I'd love to coach 22 Evan Vickless's on my team.”
Vickless set a school record with a 99-yard touchdown jaunt Sept. 29 in a 40-0 nonconference win at home against Deer Lakes.
“He made two guys miss on that play,” Kissel said. “When he got into the open, no one was going to catch him. He's got very good speed. He was a sprinter on the track team.
“He's a hard-working kid, truly a joy to coach. He comes from a solid background. And he's a great student; he's very good in the classroom.”
Vickless rushed for 507 yards and eight touchdowns on 104 attempts last season, and also had 33 receptions for 313 yards and one score.
One of his best all-around games was against South Allegheny when he racked up eight receptions for 76 yards and one touchdown, and was credited with seven tackles, and had one interception on defense.
For his career, Vickless accounted for 1,083 yards and 19 touchdowns on 193 rushing attempts, and caught 47 passes for 440 yards and three scores.
He finished with 138 career points on the gridiron.
Brentwood's football team qualified for the WPIAL playoffs the past two seasons, advancing to the quarterfinal round in 2016 and ending up 8-3 overall.
“Two high school moments I won't forget are playing in a home playoff game in my (junior) year, then having the longest rush in school history,” Vickless said.
The Spartans socked Frazier, 46-19, at home in the first round of the WPIAL Class 2A playoffs during the 2016 postseason.
“I think I will, for sure, miss Friday Night Lights the most,” Vickless said. “I don't think anything really compares to it, being on the field with your best friends in front of your borough.”
Vickless also was a member of the Spartans' 400-meter relay unit that was a fourth-place WPIAL medalist and PIAA qualifier in 2017, and a seventh-place WPIAL medalist in 2018.
“Evan was one of our most consistent sprinters the past two years. He will be very hard to replace on the 400-meter relay,” said Mike Cramer, Brentwood's track and field coach. “He ran with confidence and determination, no matter what race we asked him to run. He also ran the 200-meter, and was very good on the 1,600-meter relay; he was consistently around 55 seconds.
“Running track, competing the way he did, working on his speed and conditioning, really helped with football, or any other sport really. Track goes hand in hand with any sport where you need to be faster, stronger, jump higher, and have great conditioning, and I think Evan saw those benefits. Some of our best athletes have been football players, and the benefits of running track are obvious. Over 60 percent of the players drafted this year in the NFL participated in high school track.”
Cramer said Vickless incorporated a positive attitude into the track and field program.
“Evan always brought a positive attitude and was extremely polite, both in the classroom and on the track,” Cramer said. “We appreciate the time and effort he has given us over the years, and we wish him luck.”
In basketball, Vickless was a key backcourt contributor for the Spartans, who advanced to the WPIAL Class 3A playoffs during his senior season.
“Evan is a kid I really enjoyed working with the last two years,” said Dan Thayer, Brentwood's boys basketball coach. “Evan always came to practice ready to work and wanting to learn each and every day. He is a team-first guy.
“Basketball wasn't his strongest sport but he worked constantly to get better. He also understood he would have to do a lot of things that weren't going to get a lot of notoriety. But Evan's primary concern was helping us win.
“I was so impressed with Evan's understanding of his role and willingness to accept it. Evan's filling his role also made him a team leader; showing all the players the importance of putting the team first. I am so proud of Evan and all of his accomplishments.”
Vickless, who graduated with a 3.48 GPA, plans to attend Pitt-Johnstown to study computer science.
“My favorite class, I'd have to say was English,” Vickless said. “I just felt like I always was very good in that subject.”
The Mark Reider Award was established in 1967. Recent recipients include Dorian Bowie (2017), Patrick Carr (2016), Connor McWilliams (2015), Justin Vickless (2014), Jason Pilarski (2013), Josh Mackin (2012), Cory Bauer (2011) and David Sexauer (2010).
Justin Vickless is Evan's cousin. Justin's dad, Mike, a Brentwood assistant football coach, also won the Mark Reider Award in 1985.
“I remember watching Justin play and he always would dominate, no matter who the opponent was,” Evan said. “I never saw him play a bad game. He was very consistent with his efforts.”
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.