Sobrato High senior Noah Taylor is knocking down both school rushing records and opposing ball carriers as a two-way star for the Bulldogs’ football team.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound stud running back ranks first in rushing yards in the Central Coast Section, third in the state of California and sixth in the nation—third nationally in average yards per game.
“He’s a special athlete and a total package,” Sobrato coach Joel Rueda said. “He’s fearless and aggressive, has breakaway speed, a strong stiff-arm and has good vision. He is fundamentally sound and follows his blocks. He’s really coachable and an outstanding teammate. He wants to win for his teammates.”
Three weeks ago, Taylor broke the school single-season rushing record during a 48-yard touchdown run against Mt. Pleasant. He surpassed Jared Jones’ 2018 record of 1,643 yards and is now up to 2,369 yards, with one regular season game and possible playoffs remaining.
Taylor—who currently has 3,610 career rushing yards—also set the school record for career rushing yards this year, breaking Jones’ mark of 2,218 yards.
Taylor claimed the career mark even though he had no rushing attempts his first two seasons with the Bulldogs, as he played linebacker on defense. Unleashed on offense, he ran for 1,241 yards as a junior and currently has 2,369 yards as a senior, with at least one game remaining.
Taylor is an elite runner who combines power and physicality with high-end speed. Touchdowns come on strong tackle-breaking runs up the middle as often as they come with turning the corner for explosive long scores that leave a secondary in the dust.
“It’s a great offensive line,” Taylor said. “The best offensive line in Sobrato history. The holes are there. I have confidence in them.”
Another entry in the record book has Taylor’s name: most rushing yards in a game.
Jones previously held the mark at 275 yards, yet Taylor has topped that four times this season. He racked up 296 yards against Del Mar, 284 against Gilroy, 323 against a talented unbeaten higher-level Live Oak team and 277 yards against Willow Glen.
“Our offensive line should be congratulated,” Rueda said. “They paved the way for the all-time rusher in Sobrato history.”
The offensive line has stalwarts Jorge Mendoza, Lucas Laisure, Kaydan Ruiz and Gustavo Ureta, along with tight end Alexandr Kushchanka. Rueda utilizes a deep crew and has thus also received major contributions from Logan Nielsen, Mason Miller, Talyn Castellanos, Joshua Charles and wingback Jonathan Cruz.
“You give him a little bit of space and he’s going to run it to 50 or 60 yards,” left guard Mendoza said.
Sobrato uses Taylor on power runs up the middle as often as runs around the edge with a pulling guard.
“When I am pulling, if I make a good block, [Taylor’s] going to be gone,” left tackle/right guard Laisure said. “He has speed and his eyes. He knows how to read the field. His knowledge of the game is exceptional.”
Taylor holds two other prominent marks in the Sobrato football record book.
The previous mark for rushing touchdowns in a game was three by Jones in 2018. Taylor has run for four scores in a game three times, against Del Mar, Westmont and at Mt. Pleasant.
Taylor also has the season rushing touchdowns record with 25 (and counting).
The assault on the record book continues. The important “yards per carry” record may soon be his, as well. Taylor stands at 12.4 yards per carry, comfortably ahead of the current record of 10.6 by Seth Hernstedt in 2022.
“Noah is a jack-of-all-trades.,” Rueda said. “He runs like he’s 225. And he has speed to get the edge and take it. I love the fact that I am an alum and one of my players has done this. Noah puts the team ahead of himself. He is selfless.”
Jack of all trades
Taylor has been talking with NCAA Division I colleges about college football next year. Interest in him is for both sides of the ball but many feel defense may be the better fit.
Defense may be less glamorous but Taylor’s play on that unit is equally as impressive as his rushing accomplishments.
Against Mt. Pleasant, Taylor along with teammates Luke Anderson and Laisure continually blew up the Cardinals’ offense in a 48-6 win. The Bulldogs’ trio read keys and overpowered linemen to get in the backfield while a play was still developing.
The standout linebacker has his name stamped all over the defensive side of the Sobrato record book. He recorded 24 tackles against Gilroy last year, smashing the previous record of 15 by Jubenal Rodriguez in 2007.
Taylor has exceeded 15 tackles six times, with one or more games left. He also is the record-holder for the most tackles in a season with 159 in 2022, far ahead of Cody Vivian’s 2008 total of 101.
Taylor is part of a fierce front seven that has limited four of the last five opponents to totals of zero, six, 11 and six points.
Earlier in the year, the Bulldogs’ defense totally shut down Del Mar High star Andre Lattimore, who ranked third in CCS with 1,807 yards on 157 carries for an 11.5 yard-per-carry average in 2022.
Lattimore racked up 242 yards against a strong Westmont team this season, but Taylor, Anderson and Laisure led a brick wall that held Lattimore to 60 yards on 28 carries for a miniscule average of 2.1 yards per carry.
“Our guys bought into the defensive scheme and played hard,” Rueda said. “Last year, [Lattimore] gained some 1,800 yards and he got 250 last week. We had a scheme and we played within our roles. Our defensive line won in the trenches and our linebackers read their keys.”
Runs in the family
Athletic success runs in the Taylor family.
Taylor’s older brother, CJ, played football and swam at Sobrato, and his mother, Christine, was an elite swimmer in high school and swam competitively at Pepperdine University.
Additionally, she is a certified chiropractic sports physician and is the sports chiropractor for the Sobrato athletic department, including football.
Taylor’s father, Tom, played football, his two uncles played baseball, his great-grandfather played semi-pro football and an aunt played basketball.
Noah Taylor is a bit of a Renaissance man. He loves swimming and golf, and competes in those sports.
Taylor also shines in the classroom, earning his way on the Sobrato High Honor Roll the last three semesters heading into the current Fall 2023 semester.
On the gridiron, Taylor produces for Sobrato and does not take off a single play.
An illustrative example came with Sobrato comfortably ahead in the second quarter against Mt. Pleasant.
Taylor carried the ball around the right side as the Cardinals’ defense jammed the line of scrimmage and the sideline hemmed in the play, stopping him for what looked like a 2-yard gain.
Instead, Taylor powered through two would-be-tacklers and juked out a third for what now looked like an 8-yard gain.
Taylor did not take the easy way out and avoided the linebacker to push him out of bounds, twisting back to the inside to weaken the tackler’s leverage to keep moving forward.
Another Cardinal player came at Taylor and the gang-tackle eventually brought him down, but only after 12 yards and a Sobrato first down.
Taylor loves the physical aspect of the game.
“The thing I love the most is the stiff-arm,” Taylor said. “It’s my number one move. I always put my arm out to push them away. And I try to keep my eyes up and trust my vision.”
For Taylor and his teammates, statistics and records are in the back of their minds. Competing for the league title is the primary goal, and the Bulldogs (6-1) are in the thick of the race in the Blossom Valley Athletic League Santa Teresa – Valley Division.
Sobrato is currently in a three-way tie with Leigh and Westmont for first place in the division with a 3-1 record in league play.
“The league has a lot of great teams,” Taylor said. “It’s our senior year and we haven’t done it yet. We want to win the league and make it to the CCS playoffs.”
Next up, the Bulldogs play at Overfelt High (5-4, 2-2) in the teams’ league and regular season finale on Friday at 7:15pm.