By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS)—John Reid was a maroon blur that seemingly came from nowhere. Neshaminy speedster D’Andre Pollard thought he had a clear path to the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown in the PIAA Class AAAA state semifinals. Or so it looked.
That’s when the blur caught Pollard from behind—saving a TD and eventually creating one, when Shawn Harris took a fumble 95 yards for a touchdown the following play.
Reid had that habit of changing the course of games. In the state semifinal alone, the St. Joseph’s Prep 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior two-way star had an interception, a touchdown-saving tackle that would have given Neshaminy the lead, caught a 50-yard pass that led to one touchdown and drew an interference call that resulted in another TD.
He was the most impactful player on the field this past season and it’s why Reid is the Player of the Year in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Playing a more active role this year on offense, Reid led the Hawks with a team-high 41 receptions for 698 yards, another team high (according to TedSilary.com). He scored three different ways, with a team-high eight touchdown receptions, a pick-six and three rushing touchdowns.
He influenced almost every play for PIAA Class AAAA state champion St. Joe’s Prep.
What’s even more amazing is Reid got stronger as the season progressed. Hawks’ coach Gabe Infante relied quite heavily on Reid’s versatility, attention to detail and explosive speed. He never came off the field, except for special teams. He frequently cramped up in the beginning of the season as his body adjusted to the demand. He overcame, he adjusted.
Infante one time mentioned to Reid he didn’t like the way he caught the ball. The next day, Reid was at Prep snaring pass after pass off a Jugs machine.
“A lot of training and hard work goes into everything I do,” Reid said. “You either get better, or you get worse. I worked on route releases, on eye discipline in coverage. And I think my film study has improved tremendously.”
“That’s John, anything he could do to help us win,” Infante said. “He’s matured exponentially. John has always been more mature than his age. He’s really grown leaps and bounds over the past year. What we’ve been through has accelerated that process even more. It forces you to grow. Going into the year, we placed John in roles he wasn’t necessarily comfort with. We had needs in certain spots, and John being John, he did everything he had to do to be sufficient in his new roles. He worked extremely hard in working on being an outside receiving threat. We always knew he was tremendous player on defense.”
Reid is going to be able to pick his school. Alabama, Penn State, Georgia and LSU are very high on his list, among many others. And two days after the Hawks won their first state title in school history, Reid was already looking ahead. One other thing, Reid talks in plurals—like “we,” “us” and “our.” It’s rarely, if ever, “I.”
“I know we have to attack this offseason with more intensity because we all have bull’s eyes on our backs,” said Reid, who began the season at safety and switched to his more natural position as a cornerback. “We all are going to need to take it a higher notch. We always trained as champions; never satisfied and we’re going to always fight complacency. Coach Infante will not allow that at all.”
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.