By Aram Tolegian, SGVN
Reggie Turner’s football season did not start out the way a dream senior season is supposed to.
The Bonita High School running back took a handoff in the shadow of his own end zone with his team trying to kill the final minutes of clock while holding a 36-30 lead over rival San Dimas in the Smudge Pot game.
Soon after getting the ball, Turner was stripped. San Dimas emerged with the ball on the doorstep of victory. The Saints cashed in and won, 37-36. It was a cruel trick played on Turner by the football gods.
“It was a crucial moment,” Turner said while thinking back to the play.
“Everyone was saying `Hold on to the ball, hold on to the ball’ even before I went in.
“As soon as the ball popped out, my heart just dropped. It’s really unexplainable. I felt real, real bad. All that was going through my head was apologizing to my teammates.”
Rather than being blamed or ridiculed, Turner received nothing but support from his teammates and coaches. Although the disappointment from the loss still burns bright, Turner and Bonita have moved on.
It wasn’t easy, though. Bonita went on to lose its next two games after San Dimas. But since then, Turner has become a scoring machine and at 3-3 overall and 2-0 in the Hacienda League, the Bearcats have their sights set on knocking off defending champion West Covina on Friday and putting themselves on the inside track to a league championship.
“It’s the most important game to date,” Turner said. “And it might be the most important game of the season. We just have to treat it like it’s the Hacienda League championship, because for the most part it is.”
It’s no secret what the Bearcats will do on Friday night in order to beat the Bulldogs. A steady dose of Turner has been the recipe that’s led Bonita to three consecutive blowout wins and Turner to some pretty amazing stats.
Turner has scored 13 touchdowns in the last three weeks. Six of those came against Rowland. He now has 18 total touchdowns for the season to go along with 676 yards rushing.
“He’s obviously doing some things right for us and he’s obviously the guy who we want the ball in his hands,” first-year Bearcats head coach Adrian Medrano said. “He wants that to be on his plate, too. He wants to be getting 20 carries a game, at least. And to be honest, that’s not exactly happening every game, but he’s getting the ball thrown to him and he’s playing some defense for us in spot situations.”
Turner has been a key contributor for Bonita for the past three seasons. He was too good, even as a sophomore, to not play a huge role on the Bearcats’ CIF-SS Southeast Division runner-up team.
Last season, Turner’s role grew even more as he was counted on, along with Cameron Griffin, to carry the offense while also playing defense.
Now, Bonita is riding its best player for all he’s worth and that’s just fine for Turner. The season may not have started out as planned, but Turner is threatening to end it in smashing style.
“Mistakes just happen,” Turner said. “I didn’t think it would ruin my season, but I thought people would be pointing the finger at me. I actually got a lot of support. Nobody really pointed the finger. Well, not to my face, at least.
“I got support from all my teammates. None of them were mad at me. The coaches weren’t mad at me. It’s my last year playing high school football and I’m trying to get a scholarship. This is my last shot right here to beat West Covina, not just for me, but for the previous teams.”
Win or lose on Friday, there’s still plenty of time left for Turner to leave his mark. But he knows that with a win, the Bearcats can start thinking about bigger goals, like an extended playoff run.
“A league championship would be awesome,” Turner said. “It would be a pretty good end to my senior season, but a Southeast championship would be the perfect ending.
“I definitely think as a team, if we play our best football, we can compete with anyone in the Southeast and go to the championship.”