As Jose Reynoso took the field of battle this fall, there were three principles that he stressed to himself as well as his teammates — determination, motivation and responsibility.
Reynoso, a Lakeside senior linebacker who is this season’s Ashtabula County Defensive Player of the Year, provided not only tremendous playmaking ability for the Dragons defensively, but he also provided the program strong leadership. It was something vital for a team with so many young players, under the direction of a new coach, and not to mention going against an always tough Lakeside schedule.
“Being voted a team captain, I took it pretty seriously,” Reynoso said of his leadership role. “I wanted to give what the seniors from the previous year gave to me. Determination, motivation and responsibility, that’s what they taught me and I wanted to pass it on, especially to the younger guys.”
But nothing could pass it on better than the way Reynoso played this season. The middle linebacker in first year coach Buzz Edwards’ 3-3-5 defensive scheme, Reynoso’s task was to make plays.
He led the Dragons with 128 tackles, to go with a pair of sacks and a pair of interceptions. The numbers would have been higher had he not missed one full game and half of two others with an ankle sprain and hip injury.
“He did exactly what he was supposed to do,” Edwards said Reynoso.
But as well as he played on Friday nights, the work ethic and leadership he displayed even before the start of the season immediately caught the eye of Edwards.
“I put a lot on him and I gave him a lot of responsibility when I first got here,” Edwards said. “Seeing his leadership ability and his work ethic, I put a lot on him as a captain. He had a really good year and a large part of that is due to all the work he put in. He worked his tail off. I don’t think he missed a workout all year. He worked himself into that spot.”
The work in the weight room and especially the quickness he increased helped him transition from defensive end to linebacker. Reynoso was quickly fond of the move.
“I like it a lot,” he said. “That’s really the position I should have been playing a lot more at last year. I played some there, but mostly on the line because we didn’t have enough kids to fill all the positions we needed.”
The work he did wasn’t about just improving himself, though. He wanted to set an example for others to follow. More than anything, he wanted to win.
“I wanted to do a lot for Lakeside,” Reynoso said. “Putting in all that work, I really thought we’d be better this year, that we could win some more games.”
Winning at Lakeside though hasn’t been easy for a long time though.
The Dragons this season posted a 2-7 mark. Six of the seven losses were against playoff teams, including that won at least one postseason game. Canfield advanced to the Division III, Region 9 regional final. According to Edwards, that made Reynoso’s performance even more eye-popping.
“We played six playoff teams and everyone of those teams except Rocky River was the same size or a bigger school than us,” Edwards said. “Those are teams with guys getting college offers and Jose was as good as any player on those teams. When you’re playing that type of competition and still racking up 125 tackles, that’s a pretty special defensive player.”
Still, nobody enjoys losing. Reynoso, however, believes playing the higher level of competition will only help future Dragon teams.
“Playing those harder teams, it’s a struggle,” he said. “But I think we put up a good fight, even though the score doesn’t always say that. I think a lot of those games were closer than the scoreboard said. Those games were a good experience and with the number of young guys that we have, I think next year we’re gonna be much better.”