GENEVA – Dylan Creech and Kahari McReynolds grew up in the same neighborhood, have played organized sports together since they were 7 and are now senior leaders of the Geneva High football team.
Not surprising, it’s easier for them to talk about one another than themselves.
“He’s unbelievable,” Creech said of McReynolds. “He does everything the right way.”
McReynolds returns the compliments.
“Dylan is probably the most hard-working dude out here,” McReynolds said. “He wants everybody to be held accountable for what they do. He’s the guy.”
They are both incredible athletes on a Panthers team which has compiled a 4-2 record going into a Class 3A region home game Friday against Houston Academy.
The statistics both have compiled illustrate how talented and versatile they really are.
McReynolds has rushed for 1,098 yards on 101 carries with 12 touchdowns and has caught 10 passes for 134 yards with three TDs while seeing time at quarterback, running back and receiver on offense. As a safety on defense, he’s compiled 46 tackles with four interceptions. As a kickoff return specialist, he has five returns for 223 yards and two touchdowns.
He scored seven touchdowns – believed to be a school record – during a 56-43 win against Opp three games ago. Six were rushing touchdowns while compiling 313 yards on 20 carries and he also had an 80-yard kickoff return for a score.
Against Samson two weeks ago, he had a 99-yard touchdown run – breaking the school record of 96 yards set by Rex Seay in 1957 – and also stripped the quarterback and returned the fumble 95 yards for a touchdown.
It was the takeaway from talented Samson quarterback Hayden McCoy that really displayed McReynolds’ speed and turned the momentum of the game en route to a 40-28 Geneva win.
“Before the play, a teammate of mine, Noah Johnson, a freshman, told us that they weren’t holding onto the ball very good,” McReynolds said. “He (McCoy) was running for the end zone and not looking at me at all. I guess he thought he had a touchdown.”
McReynolds sprinted across the field to reach McCoy just in time.
“I was lined up as a backside safety on the play,” McReynolds said. “I saw him running in and the score was 6-0 at that point. I was just not fixing to let them get a two-touchdown lead on us. I went in, stripped the ball and took off running the ball down the sidelines.”
On the 99-yard touchdown run later in the game, McReynolds intercepted a fourth-down pass to set it up.
“The play before that I got an interception and I thought I fell in the end zone, but they (officials) said I fell down at the 1,” McReynolds said. “Coaches were getting onto me that if I had batted it down, we would have gotten the ball on the 50. I was like, ‘Coach, I’ve got you.’
“The very next play, I came out and there were blockers on the edge. It was a big hole. I was at quarterback. I caught the ball and was running and cut across the field. Smooth sailing.”
Geneva head coach Les Sanders says he hasn’t seen many athletes as versatile as the 5-foot-10, 180-pound McReynolds.
“First of all, he’s a winner,” Sanders said. “Any winner has to have a little self-motivation – want to be the best they can be – and Kahari has that. It doesn’t matter where you play him. You can put him at outside linebacker, corner, safety – he’s going to know what to do and what everybody else does.
“It’s unusual these days for a kid to play that many positions and know them. I’ve coached a few that could do that in my 25 years.”
Creech also plays on both sides of the football as a linebacker and running back. He’s compiled 74 tackles as the leader of the defense, with 12 tackles for loss and an interception.
During a 32-27 win over Straughn last week in which Geneva scored on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Damion Kemmerlin to McReynolds with 32 seconds left, Creech was the hero on defense with 21 tackles.
“I told him that’s his best game assignment-wise at linebacker since he’s been here,” Sanders said of Creech. “He made a lot of plays in the backfield. He had a big assignment with the quarterback dive, quarterback pitch, and he made plays all over the field.
“He understands what the team is trying to do – strengths and weaknesses. He watches film. He’s another one that just has an inner drive to do well.”
Creech, who has been playing through ankle problems, knew how important the Straughn game was in the team’s quest to earn a playoff berth.
“It was like a pivotal game for the season last year and we lost,” Creech said. “This year, I wasn’t going to let it happen again. This is my senior year and I want to go to the playoffs, so we had to make the statement.”
The 21 tackles came a week after he recorded 15 against Samson. He’s been in double-digit for tackles in four of the six games.
“I just felt like I started off slow (in the season) because of my ankles and I had to step it up for the team,” Creech said of his 21-tackle performance. “They (Straughn) ran the right offense. I was just there for every play. It just happened.”
On offense, Creech has rushed for 435 yards on 80 carries with three touchdowns.
At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Creech is often called on to get the tough inside yards.
“My job is just to get as much yardage as I can,” Creech said. “Ever since 10th grade I started playing running back and it’s just fun to play. I’ve played both sides my whole life, so I’m used to it.”
A strong work ethic in the weight room has kept him prepared to play both ways.
“That’s a part of not skipping reps,” McReynolds said. “You’ll look back one day in your life and you’ll be able to say that you played 150 plays a game.”
While both players strive to be the best they can be, they also push the others on the team.
“I’ll get vocal sometimes,” Creech said. “What I have to do, I have to do.”
Among those that McReynolds keeps a keen eye on is his brother, Timothy, a sophomore who plays next to him in the secondary and on kickoff returns.
“I push him real hard and expect him to be better than me,” McReynolds said.
That's a tall order, to say the least.