A year after he took over the quarterback job at Reed, Matt Denn has once again helped guide the Raiders to the Northern title and the state football playoffs.
And, once again, the Raiders will face Bishop Gorman, this time in a state semifinal game at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Reed.
Denn had a remarkable season as a junior. Now a senior, he has improved in every facet of the game.
Denn completed 148-of-217 passes for 2,140 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,315 yards on 135 carries and scored 23 rushing touchdowns.
Teammate — and classmate — Jorden Carter led the North Division I with 1,713 yards and 23 touchdowns on 242 carries.
Reed coach Ernie Howren appreciates Denn’s versatility and reliability.
“He’s a program guy that will do whatever you ask and then you just happen to add in all the athleticism and all the extra things Matt brings to the table and makes Matt the guy that he is,” Howren said.
Denn says his biggest improvement from last season is his ability to read defenses along with knowing the Raiders’ offense much better.
“My reads have been faster, my reads have been better,” Denn said. “I’ve really been studying and knowing the offense inside and out.”
In Reed’s 56-28 win over Carson last Friday in the North Division I championship, Denn had another stellar performance, completing 17-of-18 passes for 209 yards and three scores. He rushed 11 times for 51 yards and two scores.
Teammate Parker Houston has attended school with Denn since they were young children in kindergarten at Bud Beasley Elementary in Sparks.
“I don’t think Matt Denn has improved at all. I think he’s stayed the same little boy,” Houston said, smiling, then adding, “I’ve got to give credit to him, he’s definitely the best quarterback in the North.”
Denn’s versatility opens up the Raiders attack. If one of the numerous Reed receivers are not open, Denn will take off running.
“I don’t know if you’ve looked at his biceps, but he can definitely throw an 80-yard ball if he wants to,” Houston said, smiling again.
Houston and Denn played in different youth football leagues growing up.
“I never figured I’d be catching passes from him,” Houston said. “Matty’s been one hell of a friend for me. What he’s done for this program is unexplainable. He’s one of the better quarterbacks who have ever come through here.”
Most of the Reed players attended different elementary schools. At Reed, they’ve formed the regions’ top football program for the past several years. Friday’s win over Carson was Reed’s fifth consecutive Northern title.
“We didn’t recruit them, but they found the right spot,” Houston pointing to his teammates.
Reed is facing one of the top teams in the nation Saturday, and the six-time defending Nevada state champion, in Bishop Gorman.
Denn said the Raiders approach this week is the same as every week, albeit against an elite team with outstanding speed at almost every position.
“We’ve got to play fast and we’ve got to play physical. If they want to meet us at the spot, we’ve got to out hit them at the spot,” Denn said. “Gorman will make a few mistakes, every team does in a football game, no one is going to play a perfect football game, but we have to be as close to perfect as we can and we have to capitalize on their mistakes.”
Denn has an offer the U.S. Coast Guard to play football and Howren expects a few more offers to come in for him.
Football State Semifinal
Who: Bishop Gorman (13-0) at Reed (13-0)
When: 12:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: at Reed
TV/Radio: KAME-01/1400 AM