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Unconventional and undaunted

Hart’s Reyes might not be a prototypical QB, but he has his team’s trust heading into league season

Posted: October 14, 2009 9:38 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Despite being undersized, Hart High School quarterback C.J. Reyes has helped put the team in position to reassert its Foothill League prowess.

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At the beginning of the season, many Hart High football players got an earful from fellow students doubting the program.

On the surface, the team appears undersized and inexperienced, and coming off a sub-standard 2008, some questioned whether the Indians’ perennial place among the Foothill League’s elite was a thing of the past.

The players took umbrage.

One such player was an unconventional senior quarterback wearing No. 25, whom head coach Mike Herrington describes as “stoic” and even mysterious.”

Standing 5-feet-8-inches and weighing 185 pounds, C.J. Reyes embodies the trust necessary for Hart to make a run at the league title and silence its doubters.

“The guys mess around with me and how I’m not a real quarterback and how I should be a fullback or a lineman,” Reyes says with a laugh. “They all joke around, but I kind of use that in games because I know people doubt me.”

Through five games and a 3-2 record, Reyes enters Friday’s Foothill League opener against Saugus as the league’s leading passer with 1,278 yards.

He’s completed 84-of-155 throws with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions in his first year as the starting quarterback on varsity.

“He gets some ribbing sometimes for not being a runner or an athlete just because of his size and stature. But believe me, he gets things done with his arm and his feet,” Herrington says.

Reyes has also rushed 49 times for 228 yards and two touchdowns on the season, but his value extends beyond rushing and passing numbers.

On Sept. 11, Reyes kicked a game-winning 32-yard field goal to beat Palmdale 37-34, and as the team’s kicker, Reyes is 3-of-5 on field goal attempts and has sent all but one extra point through the uprights.

His team trusts that he will come through.

“He can gain control of the huddle,” Herrington says. “He can get guys going and motivate them. They know he has an understanding of how it is supposed to be done — the correct way to play football.”

Reyes says that trust is essential for other reasons, especially when it comes to his wide receivers.

“Sometimes they tell me they can’t really see me, but they know I’m back there,” he says, noting that he is often hidden behind the much larger linemen.

As a result, Reyes has to be in sync with his receivers at all times and put his throws where they are supposed to be.

“It’s just being able to know that your guys are going to be in the right spot at the right time and make the right reads,” Reyes says.

Hart’s three leading receivers are seniors Ty MacArthur, Blake Borland and Da’Jon Hairston, all of whom are under 6-feet tall.

“He’s exceeded my expectations by far,” says Borland, who is in his third year playing varsity. “I’ve had some amazing quarterbacks in the past, great running quarterbacks. But C.J. by far has been (an all-around threat) so far this entire year.

“We give him a hard time about his size, but no one can fill the shoes that he has had to being a Hart High quarterback.”

The 5-foot-9-inch MacArthur has caught 28 passes for 498 yards and seven touchdowns so far this season, while the 5-foot-10-inch Blake Borland has 25 receptions for 365 yards and six total scores.

The 5-foot-7-inch Hairston has recorded 16 catches for 260 yards and one touchdown.

“We knew coming into the season that we weren’t going to have that big of a team,” Reyes says. “But we have just as much talent as we are going to face this year. We all work as hard as we can in practice. We know what we have to do.”

It starts with trust.

“I know he plays up to the competition and he knows a lot of people in this valley,” Borland says. “People are down on him, but I have full trust he can lead us to a Foothill League title.”

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