In less than 24 hours, the Woodbury High School football team will head back to SHI Stadium for a NJSIAA Football Championship. This time, they will face Mountain Lakes in the first ever Group 1 state final.
When the Thundering Herd made the 69-mile trip last season, there was one player traveling that knew he wouldn’t be playing do to an injury that he suffered on June 13, 2021.
Anthony Reagan, Jr. had a phenomenal freshman campaign for Woodbury in 2020 leading to scholarship offers from West Virginia and Penn State. He was poised to have another breakout year before his injury shattered that opportunity.
After the injury, Reagan Jr. had to get help from his family, friends and teammates to do simple tasks that one would take for granted.
“I never got hurt before," Reagan, Jr. said. "I’m an upbeat person so for me to just sit down I didn’t know how to react. It was really hard for me. I couldn’t go up to the bathroom when I wanted to. I had to have people help me in and out of bed.”
Going through that adversity allotted Reagan Jr. the time to start paying attention to the smaller things in life. That shift in mindset helped him get through the ups and down of his injury.
“Just knowing the actual situation not being all down about it; I’m a leader and had my teammates watching me so I can’t be showing my emotions all the time," he said. "So me just being mentally tough about it (helped). I had my father always helping me push through and my teammates was there for me every day coming to my house helping me anytime I felt bad or anything.”
Video Clips provided by : Jamall Danford Jr.
Last year, his role was to support his guys in any possible way. Being an extension of the coaches and/or helping be the eyes and ears for his team helped the unit progress.
Reagan, Jr. has been preparing for this next opportunity since the day after Woodbury’s loss to Salem in last year’s final.
“I think the game was December 5 or 6 last year. The day we lost, the day after I started putting the work in," he said. "I knew for sure we was going to get back here. We had the same team coming back. We lost Teddy Lockhart, Jr., but I knew I could step up for that role”
This season Reagan, Jr. has 150 carries for 933 rushing yards, 15 rushing touchdowns, 14 receptions, 166 receiving yards and four receiving touchdowns.
"I feel like after last year people slept on me. I want to get my name back out there to the big crowd and let everybody know I'm a real good ball player."
It's in his DNA to lead and it's evident in his interactions with teammates and coaches.
This game means a lot him. So what's his mindset like going into Saturday's game?
"Just being a dog helping my team win," Reagan Jr. laughed. "I don’t play defense right now, so I'm helping the DBs, letting them know things I see film-watching. I'm excited right now. I was actually watching film before you called."