Soldotna's Mike Reed rushes the ball last weekend against Nikiski.
Photo by Joseph Robertia
This season, Soldotna running back Mike Reed has rushed 96 times for 687 yards, good for third on the Kenai Peninsula and 7.2 yards per carry.
But what says even more about Reed as a running back is his penchant for 30-yard runs in practice.
“I was commenting on that to some of the other kids,” Soldotna coach Sarge Truesdell said. “We’re 2 1/2 hours into practice, and Mike breaks through the line and runs 30 yards downfield instead of just 5 or 6 yards downfield.
“He’s one of those kids who works his tail off.”
Reed also brings a maturity to the Stars, who sit atop the Northern Lights Conference with a 3-0 record and also are 5-1 overall.
In a nonconference game in Week 2 against Palmer, the Stars were coming off an uninspired loss to Colony. The Stars offense continued to sputter against the Moose and Reed was pulled off the field and dressed down by coaches several times in the first half for false start penalties.
Reed came back to rush for all but 1 yard on the game-winning drive inside 5 minutes left to play that gave the Stars a 10-7 victory. The team has been rolling ever since.
“I’ve had players that would not have been able to take that,” Truesdell said after the game of the tongue-lashing Reed received. “We’d take them off the field and yell at them, and they’d lose their composure. (Reed) regained his composure.”
Reed’s mother, Debra Harriman, said her son has always had an eagerness to work hard and listen to coaches in sports.
“I remember when he was in youth hockey,” Harriman said. “The coach would tell him what to do, and the rest of the kids would be out there skating around and hitting each other with sticks. Mike would listen to the coach and practice stops and new techniques.
“That’s the way Mike is in sports.”
Reed dabbled in baseball, but in sixth grade he started playing football in Pop Warner and quickly became hooked.
“I get a charge, an adrenaline rush, just before the game starts,” Reed said. “I don’t feel pain. All I care about is teamwork. Football is the biggest team sport there is. It takes all 11 guys.”
Harriman said her son also enjoys football because his coaches have been so good from Pop Warner on up.
“All these coaches in his life have empowered him to do well,” she said. “Kids need accountability for what they do, whether it’s good, bad or indifferent.
“I can’t give coaching staffs and teachers enough credit for giving Mike that accountability.”
As a freshman at Soldotna, Reed played on the junior varsity and watched as featured back Dan Ghormley racked up yards for the Stars.
Not only did Ghormley make a habit of taking runs 30 yards down the field in practice, but he also never backed down from bowling over a defender.
“I hear from a lot of people that I run like Dan Ghormley,” Reed said. “I’m not the kind of person that will run around somebody.”
As a sophomore, Reed started at fullback. Truesdell said there have been only a handful of sophomore starters in his program. Reed was helped by the fact that he lifts weights year-round and has always attended two camps in the off-season.
The Stars advanced to the small-schools state finals before falling to Kenai Central.
“We went to state, and that was by far the best experience I’ve ever had in football,” Reed said. “It was the greatest feeling. Hopefully, we’ll get back to state this year.”
As a junior, Reed was named a first-team small-schools all-state player at fullback, but the Stars missed out on the playoffs due to conference losses to Homer and Kenai Central.
Reed said youth and a lack of commitment kept the Stars out of the playoffs, and said the problem was solved this off-season as everyone on the team went to the weight room and started caring about football a lot more.
“We became a family or brothers,” Reed said. “We started to care more for the game than for ourselves.”
Reed, who also does track and field for the Stars, brings the same commitment to the classroom, where he averages B’s.
“I taught Mike in seventh grade,” Truesdell said. “He’s a superintelligent-type kid.”
Reed is very interested in math and science and said he will pursue a career in something like engineering, meteorology or geology. He also would like to play football in college.
“The thing about Mike is he’s like a lot of really good football players,” Truesdell said. “He never asks for the ball or complains if he doesn’t get it, but he’d take it every single time if you gave it to him.”
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