After Central Bucks South's home football games this season, young spectators would patiently wait outside the locker room for Eric Reynolds to emerge and sign their football, jersey or program.
They would crowd around Reynolds as if he was Donovan McNabb or Brian Westbrook. For some of the anxious youngsters, No. 9's signature meant even more.
"I think it was a little embarrassing for him at times," said Susan Smith, Eric's mother. "He was just a teenage boy playing football with his friends. To him, it was nothing out of the ordinary."
Reynolds did some extraordinary things this year - things that may never be seen again in Warrington for a long time, if at all.
"I've told college recruiters that I've never seen a player be able to do what Eric did every week this season," said fourth-year South coach Bart Szarko, previously an assistant for 14 seasons at neighboring Central Bucks East and one year at Pennsbury.
Reynolds, an electrifying tailback, accounted for an awe-inspiring 3,108 yards of offense and 38 touchdowns in 12 games. For his efforts, he is The Inquirer's Southeastern Pennsylvania football player of the year.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior carried 260 times for 2,830 yards (10.9 yards per carry) and 34 TDs. He had nine receptions for 158 yards and two TDs, was 9 of 11 passing for 120 yards and a score, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Reynolds, of Hartsville, had a TD run of at least 40 yards in every game this season.
"He's got some home-run capability, for sure," Bensalem coach Dan McShane said. "He's very elusive."
With Reynolds leading the way, South, which went a combined 6-24 in its first three varsity seasons, went 11-1 overall and was undefeated in the Suburban One League National Conference.
Reynolds trained tirelessly in the off-season, working out regularly with South strength and conditioning coach Joe Hallman.
"Eric had a good JV year," Szarko said, "but he was a completely different kid as a senior. He matured a lot physically, in terms of getting stronger. He was able to run through a lot of tackles."
On Oct. 5, in a National Conference game at Abington, Reynolds carried 27 times for a career-high 401 yards and six TDs in a 49-45 win. He scored on runs of 1, 31, 62, 52, 70 and 63 yards.
"A lot of times, I could get to the free safety without having to make anybody miss," said Reynolds, who often lined up at quarterback and took shotgun snaps. "That was because of the play of our offensive line. The guys up front really stepped it up this year."
Reynolds' father, also named Eric, is South's running backs coach. A standout back for Delaware Valley College in the early 1980s, "Big Eric" rushed for 3,311 yards in his career and was a three-time all-Middle Atlantic Conference selection.
"I treated Eric like any other kid on the team," the elder Reynolds said. "It was a coach-player relationship. Once we left the locker room after practice or a game, it was back to being father and son."
In his three-year career at South, Reynolds, also a feared kick returner, rushed for 4,722 yards and 54 TDs. He had 39 receptions for 536 yards and seven scores.
Reynolds recently gave an oral commitment to Boston College, choosing the highly ranked Eagles over Temple and Villanova.
"Temple had talked a little to me about possibly playing cornerback," he said. "I just want to get on the football field. It doesn't matter if it's as a running back, receiver, cornerback, safety or kicker."
Final 2007 season ranking.
Previous rank in parentheses.
Ridley (1) 13-1
W.C. Henderson (2) 12-2
Neshaminy (3) 11-2
Downingt'n West (4) 10-2
Roman Catholic (5) 12-2
C.B. South (6) 11-1
St. Joseph Prep (7) 10-3
Garnet Valley (9) 13-2
Malvern Prep (8) 9-1
West Catholic (10) 11-1
- Rick O'Brien