Oct 30, 2013 11:52 PM by Bill Halter
PASO ROBLES, Calif. - The impact Bailey Gaither is having on the Paso Robles football team brings back not to distant memories of former Bearcat, Elias Stokes. "Seeing him on Friday nights taking kick returns back and all that kind of cool stuff that he did. It really motivated me to be a better football player" said Gaither who credits Stokes with teaching him humility and hard work while they were teammates for a season on the baseball team.
Gaither probably won't be able to equal the 28 touchdowns Stokes scored as a junior (he has 11 in eight games) but is making the same type of catches as a wide receiver that Stokes did. "There's a lot of similarities, they both can run real well. Both play both sides of the ball, Bailey's playing more defense than Elias did. But they're play makers" said head coach Rich Schimke.
Schimke doesn't like to use players on both sides of the ball but Gaither hasn't left him much choice. The 6'0" junior plays wide receiver on offense, safety on defense, he's the back up quarterback and returns kicks and punts. "It's kind of just a mindset you need to have, you kind of have to pace yourself during the game" said Gaither.
"We've got to keep tabs on him because he goes so hard that sometimes he runs himself out of gas so we got to make sure he's eating correctly and hydrating" said Schimke.
Playing offense and defense allows Gaither to make up for a mistake on one side of the ball with a play on the other. Last Friday against Pioneer Valley, Gaither slipped while running for the game clinching interception. After Gaither went down the Pioneer Valley receiver made the catch and ran in for a touchdown with 39 seconds left to give the Panthers a four point lead. "He was not a happy camper" said Schimke. Gaither got redemption in the final seconds with a 40 yard touchdown reception to give Paso Robles the win.
Gaither has great vision and instincts on the field but the attribute that most sets him a part is his speed. "He's fast, he's real fast, he's the fastest guy I've ever had" said Schimke.
Paso Robles is 6-2 with two tough opponents left. The Bearcats host Arroyo Grande on Friday and Atascadero the following Friday. Paso Robles is tied with the Eagles at 3-1 in the Pac-7 and one game behind first place Atascadero.
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