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updated: 11/1/2012 11:09 PM

'Papa' would be proud of Schaumburg's Reyes

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  • Two-way standout Cole Reyes fills a couple of key roles for Schaumburg heading into Saturday's second-round Class 8A playoff game at Palatine.

      Two-way standout Cole Reyes fills a couple of key roles for Schaumburg heading into Saturday's second-round Class 8A playoff game at Palatine.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer

By Ryan O’Gara
Daily Herald Correspondent

Football is something that runs in Cole Reyes' immediate family.

His two older brothers played for Hoffman Estates and his dad coached his pee-wee teams all throughout grade school.

The family's football blood-lines run even deeper as his grandfather, Albert Reyes, was a high school star out in California. He is the man for which Reyes inscribed "Papa Reyes" on his cleats at the beginning of the season.

"He was my idol," Reyes said of his grandpa. "My grandma sent me newspaper clippings of him. He was the talk of the town (when he played)."

With such an extensive background in the game, it's no surprise the 6-foot-3 Reyes has emerged as a Division I prospect at safety for Schaumburg with offers from FCS schools North Dakota and Western Illinois.

Also a standout on the other side of the ball at wide receiver, Reyes had his best offensive game in last week's 42-7 first round win over Glenbrook South in the 8A playoffs. Reyes hauled in 3 passes from quarterback Stacey Smith for 121 yards, all of which went for touchdowns.

But the celebration was short-lived. After the game, Reyes' father informed his son that grandpa passed away after months in the hospital.

"My dad was telling me that it happened an hour before the game," Reyes said. "They didn't want to tell me because that would have been all that I was thinking about. It was tough. He's in a better place, though."

Not knowing how much time Albert had left was difficult on Reyes and his family, and before the first game in August, Cole dedicated his senior season to Papa Reyes.

The results of that tribute have been spectacular for both Reyes and the Saxons. One year removed from missing the playoffs, Reyes' play on both sides of the ball has been a big reason Schaumburg (8-2) has been able to double its win total from last season.

"I think it all starts with leadership," Reyes said of the difference from last year to now. "Our leadership has gotten a lot better. How we bond as a group is a lot better. We all want the same goals, and we all have the same expectations."

Last year, Reyes tallied 100 tackles with 3 interceptions, earning a spot on the all-area team. But this season, he has found even more ways to contribute with 3 interceptions and 9 touchdowns, 7 of which have come on offense.

"The biggest thing for Cole if you go back 12 months is his intensity," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling. "Last year, he was talented but casual in his approach for everything. He's found a way to raise his level of intensity in terms of the way that he prepares and the way he practices, which I think has helped propel him to the level that he's at this year."

Scoring touchdowns has been fun for Reyes, but where he really excels is on defense. With his size, he profiles as either a safety or an outside linebacker at the next level.

"His ball-awareness is as good as anybody that I've coached," Stilling said. "He has an un-coachable ability to take proper angles to the ball. He's got some un-coachables about him in terms of his football instincts that I don't think other kids have."

The future is bright for Reyes, who has official visits scheduled in December to Western Illinois and North Dakota, in addition to playing on what looks to be another strong Schaumburg basketball team. Reyes plans to major in law enforcement in hopes of becoming an FBI agent someday.

But for now, all that's on Reyes' mind is a familiar obstacle in Palatine (9-1), which beat Schaumburg 51-18 in Week 9 to claim the Mid-Suburban West title. For the Saxons to knock off the Pirates in the second-round rematch Saturday, something has to change.

"It's toughness," Reyes said. "We played our worst game. It can't get any worse. It can only get better."

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