C.J. Reavis Leads Knights' Defense
By Ryan Lazo
Sep 6, 2013, 07:11
CHESTER — When Thomas Dale’s defense jogs onto the field during games, there is one player who stands out above the rest. It’s not because of his height, although he is tall, and it’s not because of his otherworldly talent, although he has that, too.
It’s the way this player barks out orders from the secondary, organizes his teammates and leads by example with his work ethic and positioning.
And it’s that positioning which allows C.J. Reavis to make plays others can’t — like he did in last week’s opener against Cosby, an 11-tackle, two-passes defensed performance that helped key the Knights’ defense to a 21-14 victory.
“He’s like having a coach on the field,” Thomas Dale head coach Kevin Tucker said of Reavis. “He generally lines us up where we need to be lined up and then when he comes off the field he can tell us what the other team is doing.”
It’s an aspect that goes unnoticed, but not to a team that is learning how to win once again. The slogan for the Knights’ season — “Bring the pride back” — says it all. It’s a team wanting to return the glory to the Thomas Dale program, one who last grabbed a state title in 2009.
Since capturing the 2009 title, the Knights’ have compiled just a 16-15 record, respectable, but not up to the level the program craves. And the way to achieve a special season starts and ends with defense.
The defense surrendered just 190 points in 14 games during the championship season — they surrendered 196 in just 10 games last season, a 4-6 disappointment.
And that’s what made the opener against Cosby so encouraging for a young team that is getting set to face a murderer’s row of tough teams to open up the season, including defending State Champion L.C. Bird, the No. 6 ranked team in Virginia in the preseason polls.
“We had a great week,” Tucker said of his team’s effort against Cosby. “But in the second half our offense struggled with three fumbles and of course Cosby made some great plays. But the defense bent yet didn’t break.”
Perhaps no one was more important to the defense’s ability to keep Cosby off the board for much of the second-half than Reavis.
While the talented cornerback compiled gaudy numbers during the game, those mean nothing to the player who aims to lead the Knights in the right manner, regardless of his own statistics.
“I want to win all the time,” Reavis said before Thursday’s practice. “I don’t care about any of my stats, anything like that. When we win, I’m happy with the game.”
The happiness Reavis plays with is easy to notice, too.
As he walked into the field house to pick up his jersey for Friday night’s game, the energy he entered with exuded to all those within ear-shot. He’s playing a game he aimed to do since he was a child and does so with an incredible passion.
“Ever since I was a little kid in little league, the goal was to always be big,” Reavis explained. “I wanted to play in the NFL, so that’s what I always wanted to do.”
And the truth is its only a dream for many players, but Reavis’ work ethic and athletic-ability have paved the way for him to achieve those childhood dreams.
Based on his play at Thomas Dale, college recruiters immediately looked to the 6-foot-2 cornerback with good instincts and fast reactions. The four-star recruit received offers from the likes of Boston College, Cincinnati, Connecticut and Georgia Tech.
However, it was the very first offer Reavis received which he immediately fell in love with and could see himself playing for each Saturday over the next four years.
“It was more of a home-feel,” Reavis said of committing to play football at Virginia Tech University. “They were my first offer and it was a love at first sight kind of thing. I compared everything else to Virginia Tech and that’s how I knew to attend Tech.”
And what Virginia Tech is getting is a player who models himself after former Redskins’ safety Sean Taylor. Taylor was one of the most gifted athletes to play in the NFL, displaying versatility never before seen.
But it was the physicality Taylor brought to each game that he is most remembered for. It’s what Reavis aims to do for both Thomas Dale this season and Virginia Tech in future years.
BLAKE BELDON/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT
“His physicality and the way he played with reckless abandon,” Reavis explained of his favorite player. “He was one of the best athletes ever — able to do a lot of things on the field. I just try to be more versatile like him to help my team.”
While it’s true the versatility displayed by Reavis allowed Tucker to come up with different defensive looks, his most important contribution comes because of his experience. He’s able to lean on his experiences — both good and bad — to help his teammates in times of trouble.
For a program looking to restore its pride, having a coach on the field with otherworldly talent to effect any game in a positive light certainly helps to instill confidence in a young team ready to take on some of Virginia’s top squads.