TRANSFER – Back in the day the Houston Colt .45s – that’s pre-Astros – were blessed with an all-star outfielder by the name of Jim Wynn. His nickname was the “Toy Cannon,” owing to his 5-foot-7 size, but powerful, long-ball hitting.
In Reynolds High’s athletic program there is a Toy, and he’s the ultimate Wynn-er ... er, winner.
Senior Cole Toy will conclude his scholastic career as one of the greatest athletes in Blue & Gray annals. Reynolds wresting Head Coach Casey Taylor invoked names such as Mark Bodo, Joel Leise, Chuck Coryea and Taylor’s own step-father Brian Hills when speaking of Toy’s 2-sport tenure.
Toy helped lead the Raiders’ run to the Region 1 regular-season and District 10 Class 1A football championships – the 1st in 15 years for Reynolds’ program. Presently, he is part of the Raiders’ wrestling squad that recently captured D-10 Class 2A Team Duals and Region 2 Section championships.
Reynolds, reigning District 10 Class 2A titlist, will compete in the annual event, which this year – owing to COVID-19 – has been scaled back to a 1-day affair, Saturday at Sharon High.
As a 6-foot-1, 195-pound running back Toy toted 188 times for 1,320 yards rushing (7.1 per-carry) and 24 TDs. Reynolds rolled to 9 consecutive wins, including an undefeated regular season and PIAA Final Four berth. Toy earned Pennsylvania Sports Writers’ 1st-Team all-state honors, as well as the D-10 Region 1 player of the year award.
Toy concluded his scholastic career as the 5th-leading Raiders’ rusher in program annals (422 carries, 2,979 yards, 7.05 per-carry, 44 TDs).
As Reynolds’ wrestlers ready for another run in the proud program’s postseason legacy (25 D-10 team titles), Toy has tallied a 17-1 won-lost ledger, including 9 pins and a technical fall. Earlier this season he surpassed the career 100-win milestone.
Toy signed with Clarion University to continue his education and football careers. The Golden Eagles’ grid program is a member of the NCAA Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference’s Western Division; however in the sport of wrestling Clarion competes in D-I as part of the Mid-America Conference. Toy will focus on football, rather than wrestling, and said he will major in nursing. He is a member of Reynolds High’s chapter of the National Honor Society.
Speaking of Toy’s personal integrity, football Head Coach Josh Mull emphasized, “Cole Toy is a good athlete, but his work-ethic makes him GREAT! I can almost guarantee that no one will out-work Cole Toy. I believe that character trait is responsible for much of his success.
“And Cole’s character off the field is of the same caliber,” Mull continued. “He is the kind of guy you don’t hesitate to allow your children to be around, and he is not alone. In this (Reynolds High) senior class there is a solid group of young men who hold each other accountable and expect each other to act with the decorum of a gentleman. I think that says volumes for the success of this senior class, on and off the field.”
“The first thing that comes to mind about Cole – other than a lot of wins and a lot of success – is what a great kid he is on and off the mat,” Taylor began. “He’s truly a leader by example, puts in the hard work, very humble – never been a ‘me-me-me’ guy. It’s always been about the team and what’s best for the team.”
To that point, in the Raiders’ 45-15 win over Fort LeBoeuf for the District 10 Class 2A Team Duals championship, Toy tallied a 41-second pin, jump-starting Reynolds’ rally from a 6-0 deficit to a quick 18-6 advantage.
“I had a job to do and I just had to go out there and perform my best,” he humbly replied. “Every team has that person that gets them started, and I was just glad to be that one.”
Taylor admitted, “It’s hard to distinguish which one you want to talk about first, because they’re both equal parts. What I mean by that is, Cole Toy, he’s a class act. Boy, his sportsmanship and the way he’s been brought up is at such a high level, you can’t tell whether he wins or loses. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t care; it just means he’s been taught and raised the right way, to respect whatever sport he’s partaking in, and put forth his full effort, and – win or lose – be a good sport.”
Toy’s character trait was tested at last week’s Region 2 Section tournament. Toy was taken down – literally at the final buzzer – by Greenville’s Cole Karpinski. That 2-1 loss was the initial setback of his senior season for the 189-pounder.
“I think what he’s taken from that is, this journey that he’s on can be taken away at any time, in terms of a tough loss here or there,” Taylor reflected. “So I think the emphasis he’s havin’ now is to push the action in terms of his training and things like that.
“It was such a good match, and I think Cole Toy would be the first one to tell you and I and everybody that Cole Karpinski earned that win. It was a very tough match, tightly contested. But in the end it was just about both of those kids bein’ great athletes and great competitors.
“Cole came off (the mat),” Taylor continued, “and only had the allotted time of forty-five minutes to an hour to be ready for his next match (an elimination bout, as only the top 2 from each weight class advanced to the D-10 Championships), and that was high school career-ending, if he would’ve lost. So the pressure was there, it was evident – not necessarily with Cole talkin’ about it – but just his preparation; you could see tightness – for him and the coaches. And I knew there was a lot of people watchin’ on-line.
“I know our kids do a lot of feeding off the energy in the (wrestling) room, and although that wasn’t there, he had his teammates and coaches walk him through that stage just before the match to get ready. And I think he did exactly what he needed to do to win against a very tough opponent in (Jonny) Rodgers from Commodore Perry,” Taylor assessed.
Toy’s 2-sport standard of excellence, according to Taylor, is a “throw-back. ... not a lost art. But a lot of times you see kids focusing on one sport, and I’m very happy to say Cole’s a multi-dimensional athlete,” Taylor said, continuing, “If you talk about singular sports there’s definitely been kids who’ve focused on track or football or whatever their sport may be that have really excelled. Cole’s a two-sport star. He has excelled on the football field and excelled on the wrestling mat.
“Somebody that comes to mind – not only physique-wise – but you can make reference or a comparison to Mark Bodo,” Taylor reflected. “Mark Bodo was a big, strong athletic guy, very tough on the football field, very tough on the wrestling mat, and ended up bein’ one of the best athletes people talk about in Reynolds history. That was almost thirty years ago – which is scary,” a chuckling Taylor admitted. “But Cole Toy is kind’ve a throw-back to that. Mark was very humble, Mark was very tough, and Mark was a great student, as well. And Cole Toy embodies those things. ... “
Regarding Reynolds’ readiness for the postseason grind in these days of the global COVID-19 pandemic, Toy said, “So far, so good. We’re very fortunate. We’ve had our basketball teams, both of them (girls’ and boys’) shut down, so we’re tryin’ to stay healthy and keepin’ it close to the team – not goin’ out and seein’ other people. Just a lot of ‘brotherly bonding’ between the team.
“I really feel like we’re startin’ to bond, startin’ to really push each other in practice a lot more. I just think we’re comin’ alive at the right time,” Toy forecasted.
In summation, Taylor said, “I’m talkin’ in terms of being a coach of his wrestling and a fan of his football career and talkin’ with Coach Mull. He’s just a great kid, a great young man, and we’re surely enjoying the time we have with him, and we’ll certainly miss his presence when he moves on to the next venture in his life.”
Toy realizes the month of March’s mat memories may be his last as he transitions to continuing his career-choice education and focusing on football.
“Yeah, I think I’m gonna miss it,” Toy admitted regarding wrestling. “But I’m sure I’m gonna stop in and watch a couple matches, definitely, especially with my teammate Kaeden Berger over there.”
Mull concluded, “It has been five years since he graced my classroom, but since then he is at the top of his class and is a member of National Honor Society. He is a son, student and player that any parent, teacher and coach can be proud to claim.”