CHAPEL HILL — On a championship weekend when Triad schools were making history, it was business as usual for the Reidsville High School football program. But don’t think for a moment that the Rams took their 22nd state championship for granted.
You don’t become the self-proclaimed “Football Capital of North Carolina” without setting and maintaining high standards. One day after Grimsley won its first championship since 1960 and two days after Mount Tabor won the first title in school history on the same Kenan Stadium field, Reidsville won its third straight and fourth in five years with a 35-6 victory over Burnsville Mountain Heritage.
The Rams rout Burnsville Mountain Heritage 35-6 to claim their 22nd state title.
It was a typically dominating performance by a Rams team that outscored opponents 495-70 in a season delayed to the spring and shortened to 10 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It starts with the seniors,” said offensive coordinator Erik Teague. “This is their fourth straight trip to the state championship game, and from Day One that’s been the expectation from them.”
Erik played for his father, head coach Jimmy Teague, at Reidsville and has been a big part of this historic run by a program steeped in history. The former Rams quarterback talked about the leadership of two-way lineman Ki Rankin, who “after the first week of practice thought the linemen were out of shape, so he had them running hills after practice. It was just crazy to see how badly these seniors wanted it.”
That’s what Reidsville players learn as freshmen, and they learn it from the seniors.
“Reidsville is known to be spoiled with talent,” said senior quarterback Kyle Pinnix, who was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. “But we don’t take that lightly. We all compete with each other. That’s what makes us better.”
How good were the Rams’ seniors on Saturday? Pinnix, who will play football at Wofford, threw for 229 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 91 yards and a score. Breon Pass, who will play basketball at N.C. State, caught five passes for 88 yards and two TDs and returned a kickoff 31 yards. Rankin anchored both lines, along with fellow seniors Isiah Mosqueda and Orion Johnson.
Part of the legacy of this class will be the first touchdown of the game Saturday, a 61- yard scramble by Pinnix during which he broke seven tackles.
Here’s how he described it, although Pinnix undersells how spectacular his run was:
“It was a pass play we call ‘Dig.’ I had Jalen Galloway open early and I missed him. Then I saw Breon over the top, but I wasn’t very comfortable about making that throw. So I figured I would just improvise on that play and get the first down, thinking down-and-distance. But after the first couple of tacklers slid off, I thought, this is weird, but I might just get out of bounds. Then a couple more guys came and they slid off, so I said, ‘I guess I’ve got to go yard on this.’ I ended up getting to the 20 or the 15 and I guess I didn’t run enough during practice and I was gassed. But I ended up scoring.”
Pinnix’s teammates will talk about that play for years, and so will the rest of Reidsville’s fans who witnessed it live or on TV. They’ll watch video of it and “ooh” and “ahh” as if they were watching it for the first time. That’s the beauty of having a football program with so many great teams, so many great players and so many great coaches. There are more highlights than you have time to watch.
“I put on some of the past game film preparing for this week,” Erik Teague said, “and watching them I think, ‘Man, we had a good team that year.’ Then I watch the next one and it’s, ‘Man, we had a good team that year.’ Every year you think, how can we get better? But that’s just the expectation.”
Jimmy Teague said, “It is the tradition. When they come in as freshmen, they know what the expectation is. I’ve said several times that six years ago when we went 9-4 people were hollering to get rid of me. The expectation is to win, and when you have the expectation it forces you to rise up and meet that expectation.”
That’s Reidsville football. There’s always another freshman class coming along, and there’s always a group of seniors to push them to be even better than they were. That’s going to be tough when they’re following a group that won three straight state championships and went 41-1 during that span. But Pinnix already sees the potential for greatness.
“I was thinking about leaving, graduating early and getting to Wofford early, but then I saw everybody working,” said Pinnix, who finishes his high school career 10th in state history in touchdown passes, with 107. “I saw our freshman quarterback, Al Lee, and I wanted to give him what I could as a senior. I call him my little son, my little brother. That’s my guy. He’s probably going to be way better than me and break all my records.”
But beyond all the records and all the state titles, it’s what the Rams become through hard work and faith that keeps Jimmy Teague coaching after winning eight state championships in 23 seasons during two stints at Reidsville.
“The next 40 years or whatever it is of these guys’ lives is what’s going to be exciting,” he said. “Wins are great, but when I see these guys grow and come back and be good men and have families, that’s what I get the most enjoyment from.”
Saturday night was a time to enjoy and celebrate what this group of seniors has done for Reidsville football.
“In the time that I’ve been here we haven’t had a better group of guys to lead the football team these guys,” Jimmy Teague said. “From the time that they got there, they wanted to be leaders when they were younger, but they knew their role, they played their role and they got better. This year was just the culmination of what they’ve done all four years.”