When opposing football coaches game planned for Avon (Ind.) High School early last season, Isaac Guerendo’s name didn’t always make the scouting report. He was new to the football program after transferring from another school and hadn’t learned the team’s offensive system or routes.
“A year ago, I wouldn’t even have told you who he was,” Hamilton Southeastern coach Scott May admitted.
But May, like so many coaches this season, has quickly learned just how far Guerendo has progressed. Guerendo, a wide receiver who committed this summer to play for Wisconsin, has become one of the best prep wide receivers in Indiana in his senior season.
Through five games, Guerendo has amassed 27 catches for 639 yards with 10 touchdowns. He added a 91-yard kickoff return for a score last week. Those numbers already have surpassed his production from last season, when he caught 19 passes for 596 yards with 6 touchdowns.
“He’s been having some big games, and the next game he makes even bigger plays,” Avon football coach Mark Bless said. “His development is on an upward swing. He’s a very explosive player.”
Guerendo’s speed and athleticism were never a question. As a high school junior last season, he earned third place at the Indiana track and field state championships in the 100-meter dash with a time of 10.68 seconds. He finished second in the 400-meter relay and fifth in the 200-meter dash. He also won the state long jump championship with a leap of 24 feet, 5 inches — only 2 inches shy of the state record.
This summer, he ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash at a Notre Dame football camp and soon earned a Wisconsin scholarship offer.
“Ever since then, he’s definitely on everybody’s radar,” May said.
But the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Guerendo has stood out because he has become a more complete football player. His strength, physicality, confidence and route-running ability now make him an absolute nightmare for defenders.
“He was kind of just a track guy that was playing football,” Brownsburg coach John Hart said. “And what he is now, he’s a great football player that has track speed. He’s going to be as good as anybody in the country because he has size and speed.”
Guerendo opened his season with 6 catches for 165 yards and 2 touchdowns in Avon’s 58-32 victory against Plainfield. He beat the defense for a 66-yard score and added a 28-yard touchdown later in the game. But even his non-scoring plays highlighted his drastic improvement. Take this short route, in which he jukes a Plainfield defender after the catch for a first down:
— Jared McMurry (@jaredmac26) August 19, 2017
“Isaac obviously has great speed, so that makes him a threat at any time regardless of what route he runs,” Plainfield coach Brian Woodard said. “If you don’t close the window quickly on him as a tackler — and give him any open space — he is going to hurt you.”
What makes Avon so difficult to prepare for, opposing coaches said, is how many talented offensive players surround Guerendo. Running back Sampson James has a scholarship offer from Indiana. Wide receiver Luke Shayotovich was the team’s leading receiver last season when he caught 14 touchdown passes. Quarterback Cameron Misner threw 23 touchdowns last season and can spread the ball around to multiple players.
This season, Avon is off to a 4-1 start and is averaging 48.2 points per game.
“Avon really stresses you,” Hart said. “You can’t over-defend [Guerendo] because of the structure. It would be I would think a lot similar to Wisconsin as far as teams in the Big Ten are going to have a problem with him because of how well Wisconsin runs the football and how big they are up front. If he gets single coverage, I don’t care what level he’s playing at. He’s very tough to defend.”
Guerendo has developed into a player capable of running any route on the field. Here, he beats his man on a post route for a 21-yard touchdown catch against Hamilton Southeastern. He caught 5 passes for 139 yards with 2 touchdowns in his team’s 38-7 victory.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) September 2, 2017
Guerendo has found particular success this season on two staples in Avon’s offense: the jet sweep and the bubble screen, which he said was his favorite play because of how much he enjoys catching the ball in space.
Here’s an example of Guerendo scoring a 30-yard touchdown off a bubble screen in Week 4 during Avon’s 62-27 victory against Brownsburg:
— Dylan Trimpe (@Trimp3) September 8, 2017
Later in the game, Guerendo scored a 16-yard touchdown off a jet sweep.
— Mike Williams (@TJFNaptownMike) September 9, 2017
“I’ve actually been a little bit surprised just because I’ve been having pretty consistently good games, which I’m pretty proud of,” said Guerendo, who has caught at least 5 passes with a touchdown in each game this season.
Most high school teams Avon has faced this season aren’t fully equipped to simulate Guerendo’s talent in practice. Hart noted his Brownsburg team had who he considered to be the second-fastest football player in the state behind Guerendo with receiver Bryce Kirtz. Kirtz has five scholarship offers, including from Purdue and Indiana, and tried to prepare the Brownsburg defense. But Guerendo caught 6 passes for 207 yards with 3 touchdowns in the game.
The one team that has been able to slow Guerendo was football powerhouse Ben Davis, an eight-time state champion, which beat Avon 52-20. In that game, Guerendo still caught 5 passes for 52 yards with 1 touchdown.
“I think they were a good team, and obviously they’re very physical,” Guerendo said. “It did lower my performance. But obviously, when I get to the college level, the performance level is definitely going to increase a lot. Just playing that team, honestly I enjoy it just because I definitely love the challenge.”
Guerendo said he has remained in contact with Wisconsin’s coaching staff and heard from Badgers wide receivers coach Ted Gilmore just a few days ago. He is eager to enroll at Wisconsin, meet the players and begin learning a new system next season.
But for now, he has plenty more to accomplish in the second half of Avon’s football season, beginning with a game Friday night against Fishers.
“He’s more dynamic than ever,” Bless said. “I can’t wait until next Friday to see what he does.”