You have to admire Josh Mull’s humility.
Reynolds High’s 8th-year head football coach is in the midst of one of the best seasons in Raiders’ gridiron annals; however Mull remained almost noncommittal as to where the 2020 edition factors into the program’s history.
Regular-season Region 1 champion Reynolds (5-0, 5-0) visits Kennedy Catholic (0-5, 0-5) for a Saturday matinee at Butala Stadium.
For the 6-decade-old school district, the Raiders’ region crown is the first for the proud program in 19 years, according to archives at The Herald. However, numerous predecessors set the standard.
• After losing the season-opener to Greenville (16-7), the 1986 Raiders reeled off 11 consecutive conquests, routing Lakeview (41-6) for the District 10 Division II title and an 11-1 finish.
• Reynolds’ 1978 squad started the season with 7 straight successes, then suffered a setback to Greenville (9-7), ending 9-1.
• The 1974 Raiders roared to 6 consecutive season-opening wins (4 shutouts) before being toppled at Titusville (27-6), concluding an 8-1 campaign.
• The Eddie Underwood/Doug Levis-led Raiders rolled to 5 season-opening wins, but bowed twice to Hickory in its final 7 games. That included the D-10 Division II finale and a 9-3 campaign.
• With a 3-2-1 record at the 1989 season’s midway mark (including a 12-all deadlock at DuBois), Reynolds responded with wins in 5 of its last 6 games, toppling Titusville (26-12) for the D-10 Class AAA crown and an 8-3-1 record.
All of the aforementioned were coached by Mercer County Hall-of-Famer Frank Amato, a Sharon High and Purdue University standout.
• The 2005 Raiders, coached by Tim Scarvel, started 5-0, but suffered back-to-back setbacks, ending the regular season 6-2. However those Raiders rebounded to advance to the PIAA Class AA Final Four, losing to South Park to conclude a school single-season standard 11-win season (11-3). That included a win over Wilmington (21-0) for the D-10 AA crown.
“Not being a member of Reynolds High School and its rich tradition of success under Coach Amato makes me hesitant to put in my two cents,” Mull admitted. “I know that I have seen a glimpse at how people felt about the program’s rich history. People spoke of the (football) program on a level equal to the perennial power (Reynolds) wrestling program back in 2005.
“In light of trying to keep from offending people, I will tell you ... I know that the people of the Reynolds School District are proud to be Raiders,” Mull continued. “They are proud of the effort, discipline and dedication it takes to obtain excellence. On the other hand, they also understand that despite those three principles, a great amount of skill is required to maintain excellence.
“But ‘culture’ can sustain success. We as a community – driven by players that date back before my tenure – have worked hard to return that ‘culture’ to an expectation that has those three principles at its core, although our team ‘absolutes’ are broken down into five principles to cover the ‘gray areas,’” Mull related.
To this point, Reynolds has outscored a handful of opponents by a composite 226-48 differential. Last week Reynolds rolled over Mercer (41-0) as Cole Toy tallied a trio of TDs (4, 1, 15 yards) en route to a 26-carry, 156-yard rushing performance. Also, Jalen Wagner went 87 yards with a kick-return for a TD.
Despite the success, Mull (37-40 at the helm) admitted, “We don’t focus on winning, but the ‘process.’ Winning is a result of the fundamentals, execution and the ability to work together. ‘We’ is always greater than ‘Me,’ and the most talented player is the hardest worker. With that being said, I am just as proud of the young men in this program in a loss, because they have trusted in something bigger than themselves.”
A year ago, after an opening-round rout of Eisenhower (43-7) in the District 10 postseason tournament, Reynolds was ousted by Maplewood (36-0) in the semifinals, concluding a 7-4 campaign.
“I would love to see (the aforementioned) principles take root and springboard the program into continued success. But that success will lay on the shoulders of the young men that step into this program and their ability to live up to the ‘Reynolds Standards,’” Mull summarized, concluding, “As for how does this team compare to others (from Reynolds) in the past? I can’t compare them.”