If there’s a football player who can make a big difference, it’s Troy Reeder. Because he’s big.
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound junior missed Salesianum’s first game against Middletown due to a foot injury. Reeder’s return should bolster the Sals tonight when they meet the Cavaliers again in the DIAA Division I championship game at Delaware State University’s Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is at 7:30.
Sallies seeks to control the clock behind a brute-force running game, and Reeder is a big part of that. The running back-linebacker rushed for 123 yards and a touchdown in a 20-14 semifinal victory over St. Mark’s last Saturday.
“He’s a special kind of player,” St. Mark’s coach John Wilson said. “The thing that impressed me was, we were stopping him, and he was still moving forward. Every gain is more than what you think they had, because he’s chugging along.”
The Sals want to chug along tonight and try to reverse a 35-0 loss at Middletown on Oct. 26. Cavaliers coach Mark DelPercio knows how important Reeder can be.
“You cannot let him get started,” DelPercio said. “He can drag a pile. He’s a hard runner, and he’s a tough kid.”
Reeder is being recruited by multiple Division I schools in both football and lacrosse. He was sidelined for three games before returning last week, and the impact was immediate. The Sals only gained 7 yards in the second half of a 7-2 victory over St. Mark’s on Nov. 9, but moved the ball much more effectively last week.
“He’s a great player, on the field, off the field, offensively, defensively,” Sallies coach Bill DiNardo said. “He just does so many things so well. He’s a D-I kid, he’s a great football player, and having him back is a big shot in the arm for us.
“You saw offensively how much he helped us [against St. Mark’s]. He’s a load. He’s a big, 235-pound kid that can run.”
Reeder said his foot feels fine now.
“I was borderline ready to play for the first St. Mark’s game,” he said. “They held me out for the playoffs. We got the win, so we got the bye and that gave me an extra week to heal up. So I was feeling really good, and I got two weeks of really good practice time to get back in the swing of football mode.”
DelPercio believes Reeder could have an even bigger impact on defense, as the Sals try to put more pressure on Cavaliers quarterback Darius Wade this time.
“You better respect what he can do on the football field, because he can get you on both sides,” the Middletown coach said. “He’s a hard runner, and defensively he’s being recruited as a linebacker in college, and for good reason.”
Reeder could only watch from the sideline as Middletown won easily five weeks ago. He believes the Sals’ mental approach will improve tonight.
“We need to get back to playing our game, don’t let them dictate the pace of the game,” Reeder said. “We really need to take our game to them and not get down on ourselves so much. If a team scores points on you, we need to trust our offense that we’re going to put points up too, and trust our defense that we’ll stop them the next time.”
This time, the Sals will feel better knowing Reeder is with them.