Playmakers 2023: Damien Reeves is the engine that makes St. Al go

Published 2:49 pm Sunday, August 20, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story appears in “Playmakers,” The Vicksburg Post’s annual football preview magazine. The 2023 edition will be available with The Post’s weekend print edition on Aug. 19. You can also get a copy by visiting our office at 1106 Washington St., or by calling 601-636-4545.

Damien Reeves has never shirked away from a challenge on the football field.

Need a hard yard? He can get it.

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Need someone to throw a block? He’ll clear the hole and do it with a smile.

Need to plug a hole in the lineup? It doesn’t matter what position it is, Reeves is your man.

“The only thing I wasn’t on last year was field goal. Everything else, I was out there somewhere,” Reeves said.
With his mix of talent, hard work and unselfishness, it’s not hard to see why Reeves has earned a leadership role on the Flashes’ roster entering his senior year.

“Damien, since day one, has done nothing but prove to me that he is eager and he wants to play,” said St. Al coach Bubba Nettles, who has coached Reeves since the latter was in sixth grade. “He will do whatever you ask him to do, play wherever you ask him to play, and he is going to give you absolutely everything he’s got. Not to mention, when he is off the field his morals and his character, I cannot say enough positive things about Damien Reeves.”

Reeves’ varsity high school career started as a freshman in 2020. He saw plenty of playing time, then slipped into the starting lineup as a fullback and linebacker in 2021.

He played on the offensive and defensive lines in junior high and has occasionally split out wide as a receiver in some offensive formations.

“I was second team and coming in for some seniors at linebacker, and once they left I just took on the spot of one of the seniors who left at fullback and kept going from there,” said Reeves, who had 80 tackles last season. I kept filling in wherever he needs me to. The only spot I really don’t play is corner.”

Reeves has even been used a couple of different ways on the punt team. In 2021 he was inserted at the up-back position and ran fakes.

“When it was punt team and we needed three or four yards, it was, ‘You’re going in as up-back and go in there and run the ball.’ I think I had at least 200 rushing yards just off of fake punts,” he said with a laugh.

While Reeves’ multiple roles on the field are invaluable to the Flashes, Nettles said his character is even more indispensable off of it.

As one of only four seniors on this year’s roster, Reeves already had younger teammates looking up to him. Nettles, though, said it’s a role Reeves earned over the previous three seasons. Reeves served as a team captain for several games in 2022.

“He does not have the respect of his teammates because he’s a senior. He has the respect of his teammates because of what he’s done — both on the field and off,” Nettles said. “He’s the heart and the soul. As long as he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing, the kids fall right in line behind him. He is an absolute leader.”

Reeves said his leadership role on the team has evolved over the past few seasons. His experience playing multiple positions made him someone teammates ask for advice when they’re thrown into a new spot. And his status as a multiple-year starter made him a trusted hand for both teammates and coaches.

“It makes it a lot easier for me when I’m talking to other people,” he said. “I know what they’re talking about if they have the same problems because I’ve been doing it since ninth grade. They had me out there with the varsity. It’s a lot easier for me to talk to people than it is for somebody else.”

Reeves wasn’t sure what his future holds in regards to football. He said there haven’t been any schools looking at him to play, and seemed like he’d be just as content to get accepted to his current college choices of Mississippi State or LSU. He wants to study engineering.

Whatever he ends up doing, wherever he ends up doing it, Nettles was confident one of his favorite players will be a success.

“If my son winds up to be half the human being that Damien Reeves is right now, I will have considered that as a success,” Nettles said. “I can assure you when the final horn blows and our season is over, and Damien walks off that field, it’s going to be a sad day for me.”

2023 St. Aloysius schedule
All games start at 7 p.m.
Aug. 18 — Adams County Christian
Aug. 25 — at Cathedral
Sept. 1 — East Rankin
Sept. 8 — *at Tri-County
Sept. 15 — *Clinton Christian
Sept. 22 — *at Central Hinds
Sept. 29 — Riverfield
Oct. 6 — at Columbia Academy
Oct. 13 — at Manchester
Oct. 20 — *Winston Academy
*MAIS District 2-4A games

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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