Ask anyone within the Corona del Mar High football program and they will tell you that junior slot receiver Bradley Schlom is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.
There’s no ego, no sense of entitlement, nothing that gives off the vibe that he thinks things are owed to him, or he’s better than anyone, because of his on-field success. One player who backs up that claim is Ethan Garbers, the Sea Kings’ record-breaking quarterback, and one of Schlom’s best friends.
“We all like to hang around him a lot both during football and outside of football,” Garbers said.
Another person who will vouch for Schlom is offensive coordinator Kevin Hettig. He sees Schlom’s cordial attitude come to life on the field, at least to his coaches and teammates.
“He understands his role when a play is called and executes it,” Hettig said. “He never rolls his eyes when things don’t go his way.”
But as soon as the opening kickoff takes flight, something changes in Schlom.
Out goes the hushed, low-key kid who goes with the flow and in comes an absolute beast of a football player who makes catches across the middle of the field knowing there’s a big hit coming.
Schlom is the kid who threw his body into double coverage to make a game-winning, 23-yard touchdown grab in the waning seconds at San Clemente on Sept. 14.
Schlom is the kid who took the opening kickoff and drove it into the teeth of JSerra’s biggest player to set the tone for the rest of the season opener on Aug. 17.
Hettig said Schlom just has a natural boldness about him.
“He’s just a little crazy,” Hettig said with a laugh. “He’s much more physical than he looks and that’s because of his fearlessness. He’s added a certain toughness at wide receiver because he’s not afraid to put his face in there.”
Schlom, a transfer from Mater Dei, said he flips the switch because opponents don’t respect him due to his slight frame. He’s 5-foot-11 and 170 pounds.
“I always want to show I’m more physical than my opponent,” Schlom said. “I don’t want them to think I’m weak.”
Schlom has shown just about every opponent his strength this season. He ranks second in CdM’s loaded receiver corps in receptions with 60, receiving yards with 1,036, and is tied with Mark Redman for second in touchdown catches with eight.
Schlom’s most recent output was a seven-catch, 130-yard and one-touchdown performance in CdM’s 49-12 win over Yorba Linda in the CIF Southern Section Division 4 quarterfinals at Davidson Field on Nov. 9. He helped top-seeded CdM move one step closer to making its fifth section finals appearance in eight seasons. The Sea Kings (10-1-1) play at Camarillo (11-1) in the semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m.
Over the last five full games played, Schlom has hauled in 31 receptions for 631 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers beg the question: Why do defenses continue to ignore Schlom’s ability and production?
There are two likely scenarios as to why that is, the first being Schlom is faster and sharper than the safeties and linebackers covering him. He has an explosive first step off the line of scrimmage and doesn’t lose speed or quickness when coming out of his break on a route.
“His speed allows him to get through and push the safeties vertically and create space underneath, and that’s huge for us,” Hettig said. “His route running is good, he accelerates out of breaks extremely well, and he’s able to separate and find space in this offense.”
The speed is something that Schlom spends a lot of time on in the offseason. He took up track and field for the first time with a successful showing in the 100- and 200-meter events.
“Last season, I was a 4.9 on my 40-yard dash, and in the offseason I trained with my speed coach and I got down to 4.5 right before this season,” Schlom said. “I mainly worked on speed and route running. Running track helped me get faster on the football field and competing helped keep me sharp.”
The other reason why Schlom continues to find so much space within the offense goes back to the lack of respect he believes teams show him because of their fixation on stopping John Humphreys, a 6-5 junior receiver, and Redman, a 6-6 junior tight end, both of whom hold Pac-12 Conference scholarship offers.
“Bradley probably doesn’t get as much attention as he should because he’s not 6-5 and doesn’t have offers, but he should because he’s a baller,” said Garbers, who has thrown for 3,450 yards and a CdM single-season record 48 touchdowns, with only four interceptions. “It’s good for us because he makes our offense click.”
Schlom understands why Humphreys and Redman draw so much attention from the opposing defense. He uses that to his advantage.
“We have four good wide receivers and someone is going to be open every time,” Schlom said. “Usually the team we play will put their best defensive back on [Humphreys], so I’m always matched up with a linebacker who is slower or a safety and it always works out well for us.”
The Sea Kings are hoping their not so secret of a weapon at receiver continues to work out for them Friday at Camarillo.
Schlom was in the CdM clubhouse Tuesday morning studying some routes and schemes drawn on the whiteboard and having a loose, casual conversation with head coach Dan O’Shea when assistant coach Tony Thornton entered the room.
Schlom flipped the switch.
“Remember that [defensive back] on Camarillo who you said was faster than me?” Schlom asked Thornton. “I’m going to truck him on my first catch of the game.”
Born: May 14, 2002
Hometown: Long Beach
Height: 5 feet 11
Weight: 170 pounds
Coach: Dan O’Shea
Favorite food: Hot wings
Favorite movie: “The Longest Yard”
Favorite athletic moment: Catching the game-winning touchdown pass with 11 seconds left to lift the Sea Kings to a 21-20 nonleague win at San Clemente on Sept. 14.