WISE, Va. – The Wise County Central Warriors will rely on a lineup loaded with underclassmen in today’s Region 2D football title game at Graham.
And that’s exactly the way sophomore Maddox Reynolds likes it.
“This is what we wanted,” Reynolds said. “We like the challenge of being thrown out there on the field and expected to make plays.”
At the start of the season, the roster for Wise Central included 19 freshmen and 16 sophomores. But Reynolds said there is more to this underdog story.
“I started playing football at age five and our program at Pound won over 70 games before losing in the eighth grade,” Reynolds said.
So what squad finally solved Pound juggernaut?
“Wise,” Reynolds said. “We lost one game to the Wise team before defeating them. Pound and Wise each finished the year with 9-1 records.”
Wise Central quarterback Ethan Mullins starred on that Pound team along with several starting linemen for the Warriors.
Most of the current starters for Wise Central were also big winners on the youth league and middle school levels, so Wise Central fans were expecting big things.
“We welcomed that attention because it only pushes us to be better,” Reynolds said. “It’s not pressure because we’ve all worked so hard to form bonds and reach this point.”
Reynolds, a running back and safety, has been forced to work overtime this season. He suffered a serious knee injury in the third game against Ridgeview and only recently returned to the lineup in the secondary.
During his long rehab period, Reynolds was not lacking for inspiration or motivation.
“I was raised around athletes and competition,” Reynolds said.
That family tree includes cousin Logan Reynolds, a former Wise Central girls basketball star who played at James Madison University.
Cousins Trey Meade and Gavan Meade signed to play football in college after excelling at Clintwood, while two other relatives competed in track and field at East Tennessee State.
Bart Reynolds, father of Maddox, was a standout quarterback at Pound, which consolidated with J.J. Kelly High School to form Wise County Central in 2011.
“Every male in my family has played football,” Maddox said. “Dad taught me pretty much everything I know about the game and earned all kinds of trophies. He takes pride, a lot of pride in the success Pound had in athletics, and all the guys from Pound want to represent that community well now that we’re playing at Central.”
Family reunions and holiday gatherings for the Reynolds clan were usually centered on sporting events.
“Cornhole, basketball, football - we were always competing,” Reynolds said. “When you play backyard football with the Meade boys you better bring it or you will get knocked out. Logan and I competed the same way.”
Reynolds started in the offensive and defensive backfield last season as Central posted a 4-7 record. He gained more confidence by winning a state title in the 110 meter hurdles and finishing third in the 300 hurdles.
“I was nervous at the start of last season in football, but we knew the pace would be a lot faster at the varsity level,” Reynolds said. “We all went to work this summer with three and four hour practices, and it’s paid off.”
While the Warriors lost in the first round of the playoffs last season, Reynolds said the Warriors learned important life-lessons.
“Some of our seniors got hurt, so we basically had all freshmen and sophomores at end of the season,” Reynolds said. “We bonded together as a team and put together the perfect game plan.”
That foundation of that game plan is a Wing T offense featuring pulling guards, relentless wing backs and efficient quarterback play.
“We all have speed and we all go 100 mph at every task,” Reynolds said. “Other teams may be bigger, better or more experienced, but no team will give more effort.”
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