Shenango High senior Reis Watkins loves playing running back.
It’s his natural position, he feels.
But when the absence of returning starter Tino Campoli due to surgery created an opening several weeks ago, Watkins did not hesitate.
“Tino texted me and said, ‘you gotta do this man,’” Watkins said. ‘“You have to take over.’”
And so Watkins did.
Playing at quarterback, running back and even as a blocking fullback, the son of Ronda Watkins and Bill Watkins rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown on 31 carries, while also tossing a 3-yard touchdown pass, to lead the Wildcats to a 25-12 win over Union in a WPIAL Class 1A Big Seven Conference contest on Saturday night.
Watkins shared time at signal-caller with sophomore Shawn Gould — who had a touchdown run of his own — because Campoli is still recovering from off-season surgery. Campoli is not yet ready to come back, but when he does, Watkins said he will be more than happy to step aside.
“I love running back and look forward to playing it again,” he said. “But I’ll do whatever will help us win.”
Shenango coach Jimmy Graham said that was the thing that has most struck him about Watkins in coaching him the past three seasons.
“He has been a tremendous teammate who leads by example,” Graham said. “He gives us 110 percent both during games and at practice. Every once in awhile you find that guy and Reis is that guy.”
Graham said while the situation with Campoli remains uncertain, he is hopeful that what the next week brings is a positive for the team.
“We have a more explosive offense with Tino in there, so we’ll see what happens when he gets back,” Graham said. “You have to get ready both physically and mentally to come.”