While defending Class 3A champion Westlake will have the challenge of replacing more than 1,800 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns with the graduation of Devon Smith, head coach Dominic Zaccarelli believes Antoine Reese is more than capable of doing so.
Team: Westlake Wolverines
Reese gave fans a glimpse of the future in the championship game against Wilde Lake when he broke a 66-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to solidify a 13-0 victory.
"He's a tremendous athlete with great leaping ability. He has great speed," Zaccarelli said. "He's just got special skills that I saw throughout the year. He has great vision and great awareness. Plus he has the acceleration on top of it."
Even though he was considered the third running back behind Smith and Evan Harris, Reese had the second most carries on the team. Reese had 100 carries for 611 yards and 13 touchdowns.
With the graduation of Smith's 1,883 rushing yards and 30 total touchdowns, Zaccarelli believes Reese has the right combination of power and explosiveness to fill the role.
"He's going to be a guy that I think we're going to be building our offense around," Zaccarelli said. "He's that good."
Primarily a defensive player his first two years on the varsity squad, Reese played at safety and linebacker for Westlake -- making 47 tackles, five interceptions and five fumble recoveries in 2008.
So far Duke and Pittsburgh have expressed interest in Reese, according to Zaccarelli.
Zaccarelli is quick to point out Reese's natural ability to be around the ball at all times, resulting in the junior recovering 10 turnovers this past season (five interceptions, five fumble recoveries). Reese also blocked one punt.
Reese is expected to be a second-year starter next year, his third year on the varsity, and will begin the year playing both offense and defense.
Zaccarelli said the goal is to find players who can spell Reese on defense to keep him fresh so that he can utilize his game-breaking ability on offense.
Reese is expected to attend the Nike Baltimore Combine on March 28 at M&T Bank Stadium.
Click HERE for a complete list of players profiled. Interested in having your profile on ESPNRISE/MDVarsity.com? Click here to fill out the Player Prospect Form and e-mail it to Mike Loveday. All information on the form will be verified through coaches. We will be profiling athletes throughout the winter and spring.
Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com