Brothers In Arms, Part 1: Garbers and Redman’s Journey to Washington
Since the ninth grade, they had talked about going 16-0 and winning a state championship at Corona del Mar High School just outside of Newport Beach, California.
That what's made it difficult in 2018 when junior quarterback Ethan Garbers and his best friend and tight end Mark Redman walked off the field in Simi Valley. Behind them, the Grace Brethren Lancers hoisted the CIF Southern Section Division 4 trophy, not them.
Their dream had been within reach.. Garbers, Redman and their Sea Kings team entered the CIF SSD 4 championship game as the favorite and the top seed. They had designs on unseating reigning champion Grace Brethren.
It was anybody’s game heading into the final quarter, though the Sea Kings trailed 26-14. But the Lancers’ unrelenting pressure on Garbers had paid off with big plays over the final five minutes of the contest.
It was a long walk to the locker room. Garbers and Redman, however, shared the burden of losing. Redman said they needed an outlet.
They used it as motivation during the offseason and it kept them focused during this past season. Garbers wasn’t afraid of hard work and putting in that extra effort, and made improvement even while many schools ignored him.
Given his prototypical NFL tight-end stature, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Redman had a college offer count double that of his quarterback.
For Garbers, the quarterback class in California was loaded with the nation's top-six players at that position.
The good thing was Garbers and Redman each held offers from Chris Petersen and the Washington Huskies.
At the time of his verbal commitment in early March 2019, Garbers ranked as the 25th-best pocket passer in the country. As a mid-tier, three-star QB, he had more doubters than suitors. That drove him to hone his craft through the spring and summer.
The offseason grinding began to pay off for Garbers when he was selected as the most valuable player of The Opening in Oakland, California.
He later accepted an invitation to the Elite 11 quarterback camp that summer. Even when the top 20 pocket passers and dual-threat QBs in the country were combined, Garbers’ hard work showed up. That weekend, he finished as one of the final Elite 11.
As the 2019 Sea Kings rolled over opponent after opponent, scouts saw their summer work show up on the scoreboard. Garbers, Redman and their teammates pushed each other hard.
College football scouts took note of Garbers and how his performances at The Opening and Elite 11 stood out. Garbers' star was on the rise. As the season went on and he continually put up video game-like numbers, he was awarded a fourth rating star.
Garbers’ quarterback profile previously linked him with quarterbacks headed to Louisville, Vanderbilt, and Iowa State, which was good company. Yet now he was talked about alongside quarterbacks committed to the so-called blue-blood programs of Clemson, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
Although brothers often fight, Redman and Garbers have never had an actual dust-up. But Redman knows that Garbers is a fighter. If they ever tangled, Redman says he’d probably win because of his size, but it would be a battle.
Garbers has an incredible will to win.
"He’s not a guy to slide when he scrambles," Redman said. "He’s not afraid to lower his shoulder into a tackler to get a few extra yards.”
When the calendar flipping to November and the Sea Kings still unbeaten, they were highly motivated. Scores of 7-7 and 21-20 in 2018 became 48-14 and 42-21 the following season. In fact, the Sea Kings scored more than 200 more points in 2019.
Yet standing in the way of a perfect season was nemesis Grace Brethren.
“We knew we were going to see Grace Brethren again,” Redman said. “We just had to outwork them and want it more.”
Led by Garbers, Corona del Mar more than settled the score with the back-to-back state champions. It brushed the Lancers aside 56-14 in the quarterfinals. But the win didn't solve everything. These guys weren't done yet. They were still two games from their goal.
“Every year since ninth grade we set our goal to be 16-0 and be state champions,” Redman said.
Garber's epic season continued to win over critics. The team finished off its final two opponents in close ones and claim the state championship.
Garbers' high-octaine numbers looked like this: 5,035 yards passing, 71 passing TDs, 573 yards rushing and 12 rushing TDs. The yardage and passing touchdowns were Orange County records.
According to MaxPreps.com in all divisions, the Sea Kings finished fourth in California and 16th in the nation. Garbers was recognized by MaxPreps.com as an All-American.
Not long after that, the longtime friends sat at a table at their high school and signed their national letters of intent to attend and play for Washington.
What many saw as back-to-back trips to the championship, the actual journey began eight years earlier when the two formed a friendship.
Part 2 of "Brothers in Arms" will look at the rivalry between Garbers and Redman, and how they've pushed each other.