By Joseph Santoliquito
PHILADELPHIA, PA (CBS) — John Reid had some thoughts rumbling in his head that wouldn’t go away. The St. Joseph Prep’s star defensive back and wide receiver had to double-check a flaw he saw watching film of PIAA state playoff opponent Parkland. So Reid got up and poured over game footage again, then relayed it immediately to Hawks’ coach Gabe Infante—at 2:30 in the morning.
It’s that kind of diligence and attention to detail that’s made Reid a very special player over his four years at Prep. That, and his freakish athleticism along with a knack for making big plays in crucial times, is why for the second-straight year the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Reid is CBSPhilly’s 2014 Player of the Year.
Reid has been the centerpiece of a Prep team that enjoyed its greatest two-year run in program history, becoming the first PIAA Class AAAA school to win consecutive state championships since the great Central Bucks West dynasty of the late-1990s (1997-1998-1999, three-straight state championships).
Over the last two years, the Penn State-bound Reid has scored 26 touchdowns and led the Hawks with 6 interceptions. What’s more is Reid will go down in history as having played more downs than any other player in the program, having been a four-year starter whose teams played deep into December (Gil Brooks’ Catholic League championship teams didn’t have the opportunity to play in the PIAA state playoffs).
Penn State coach James Franklin kids Infante of having a “man-crush” on Reid. Perhaps because Infante has no trouble saying that Reid is arguably the greatest player in Hawks’ history.
“If I had a son, John is who I would want him to be,” Infante said. “I was hard on him, that’s the thing that people don’t understand. I’ve not been easy on John. It’s been hard for him, and the kid responded every single time. Over the years during playoff time, I’ll tell the kids that the hotline is open 24 hours a day, so anytime they have a question about something they see on film, they can always text me. I’m usually up, or I’ll give them an answer in the morning. John was always sending me questions and ideas.
“The one I remember the most is our playoff game against Parkland last year. I was visiting family in North Jersey sitting at the dinner table during Thanksgiving and we’re texting each other back and forth the scouting report. I showed a college coach the text message just so they can see the amount of detail John would put into his preparation, and they said it was like talking to a 15-year NFL veteran. It was neat to have that kind of relationship with a player.
“John is in that argument with Victor Hobson, and Rich Gannon, Kyle Ambrogi and Pat Kaiser, who were all great players here at Prep. But when you look at what they did in high school, and it depends on what you use to make that argument. John won two state titles, John won two district titles, John won two league titles. Arguably, from a team perspective, the teams that John played on were much more successful than any of the team that those guys played on. So if you’re going to measure the success of a team, and the impact that a player had on that team, John is arguably the greatest player that played at Prep. He played more snaps than anyone in the program’s history, when you consider he played offense, defense and special teams. He is in that argument as the greatest player in Prep history.”
The only one that might disagree with that is Reid.
“My goal was simple—I wanted to win another state title,” said Reid, who missed the Hawks last three playoff games with an injury suffered in the Hawks’ District 12 championship win over Ben Franklin. “This was a special time in my life. I wouldn’t be the same person I am if I didn’t go to Prep. Prep gave me the opportunity to go college and play football. I’m going to remember the guys, not so much the games. I’m going to miss the people, and especially Coach Infante, but even when I’m at Penn State, I’ll probably call him all of the time like I do now. There is a genuine love we all have on this team, everyone together. That’s what I’m going to miss, being around that every day.”
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