BY SCOTT HUNT – firstname.lastname@example.org
MUNCIE — Jaquan Reeves is still weighing his options when it comes to the next phase of his life.
Reeves, the 2019 Marion High School graduate and two-sport standout, said he has a good job offer on the table, as well as a chance to play either baseball or football collegiately.
During the Indiana Football Hall of Fame’s 19th-annual East-West All Star game at Delta High School on Friday, Reeves turned the showcase into a personal highlight reel, inspiring memories of former Indianapois Colts’ pass rushing specialist Robert Mathis.
“I told the guys, when he gets here you’re going to see a great football player,” said West coach Mark Hartman of a talk he had with the team early last week about Reeves. “Not only is he a great football player, he’s a great human being on top of that.
“I really appreciate the fact that he came out and gave the effort he did,” Hartman added. “… just a heck of a game out of him. He goes hard every single time and I’m proud to live in the same town he does.”
Reeves’ effort from a defensive end position included five quarterback sacks, a pass deflection and several more pressures on whoever was taking snaps for the East team.
Four of Reeves’ sacks came in the first half, before the East coaches started putting two, sometimes three players in position to try to block him.
“I hope not, I ain’t got nothing yet, though,” Reeves said after being asked if it was his last time putting on a helmet and shoulder pads and wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks. “Being on the field again, it was fun.
“It was just trying to get the ball, see the ball and see where it was going,” Reeves added. “If they pull it out, hit them both, if I couldn’t just go back to the quarterback.”
Reeves and his defensive teammates, which included former Giants safety Brayden Burke, Ole Miss’ grad Seth Kochanek, along with Eastbrook’s Andrew Cochran and Jake Donaldson, made moving the football tough and scoring chances few for 46 of the 48 minutes.
But with the West leading 6-0, the East mounted a quick drive and scored to even game at 6-all with under a minute to play.
A missed extra point by the East necessitated overtime, four plays from the 10 for each side in accordance with Indiana High School rules. The East scored first and converted the extra-point kick for a 13-6 lead. The West also scored but had its two-point conversion stopped and the game ended, 13-12.
Disappointment was minimal from the West players. Playing in the game and forging new relationships meant as much to the players as winning and losing.
“It was just, honestly the fact it wasn’t too serious,” Burke said about his favorite part of the game. ““Everyone was just out there having fun and playing the game we love.
“It was really fun getting to know some of the guys from all over the state, from other schools,” he added. “Great group of kids. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was fun.”
Burke is off to play for Taylor University in the fall, while Cochran and Donaldson will continue to be teammates at Anderson University. Kochanek is heading for Manchester University and after a week of being teammates with the Eastbrook duo, will return to being a conference rival.
“This week has been great, a lot a lot of fun,” Kochanek said. “I wish more of my teammates would have played but I made a bunch of new friends. (The) Western (High School) kids, playing them in the season I hated them, but man, they’re some of my best friends.
“Every second of it was fun, up to the last bell,” he said.
Coachran agreed with Kochanek.
“It’s more about the week than it is about the game,” Cochran said. “Working well with others, people that I’d never met before, even people that were rivals.
“Just coming together and having a good game, executing together, building teamwork, stuff like that,” will be what Cochran remembers most about the East-West game.
Hartman has been involved for several years as either an assistant or head coach for the West team. The game itself is the one of the top fundraisers held during the year for the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and Hartman was excited to see the week wrap up with a dramatic ending to the game.
“We’ve got a lot of schools that can be involved in this and we really want to build this up into something they can be really proud of,” Hartman said. “I think we showed how much fun this game can be. I’m just happy to be a part of it. Great coaches across the board and these great players and the amount of effort they gave was just tremendous.”