Catawba's Reese, Lennon will be ready

By Ronnie Gallagher, The Salisbury Post

Just about all of the local college football fans are cackling over Catawba College’s football game Saturday in Taylors, S.C.

You can’t really blame them. This week’s victim, er, opponent, is North Greenville, which lost to a school’s club team last week, for cryin’ out loud. The Crusaders are 0-6. Catawba is 6-0 and ranked fourth in the nation.But you can bet the Indians aren’t cackling. They are keeping a straight face. As junior receiver O.J. Lennon puts it, the players have been taught by the Catawba coaching staff that regardless of who you’re playing, you must carry your weight.

Lennon’s sidekick at Tuesday’s weekly press conference at the Western Steer was Corey Reese. A veteran safety, he certainly can carry his weight.

And yours. And mine.

The 168-pound senior from Dunwoody, Ga. is one of Catawba’s top weight-lifters, despite his lack of poundage. And with not much to say about North Greenville, Lennon and coach David Bennett focused on their very strong defensive leader.

“Corey’s a freak of nature,” Bennett chuckled. “He probably benches 350 pounds and squats about 500. And to be that size?”

This past summer, the players gathered in the weight room to see who were the strongest Indians. According to Bennett, everyone else was competing for second place.

“They were all intimidated by Reese,” Bennett said. “Chin-ups. Pull-ups. Whatever he wants to do, he can do it.”


He can do everything, that is, except cover O.J. Lennon.

At least, those are the playful Lennon’s words.

“Me and Reese have been in a little rivalry since our freshman year,” said the 170-pound receiver, who sat out last season. “We go against each other in practice and I tell him he can’t stick me or guard me.

“To hear his side of the story, he can get me.”

Reese, who isn’t nearly the talker Lennon is, simply says, “He has his days, I have mine. It’s all good competition.”

Lennon does admit there’s no competition in the weight room. Reese is king.

“I started in the tenth grade,” Reese recalls. “I’m just naturally strong, I guess. No matter how much I lift or how much I eat, I don’t gain weight. I just get stronger.”


It’s that strength that will probably have him bulldogging a few Crusaders to the ground with ease Saturday. You can bet his hitting will be as fierce as it was two weeks ago against Tusculum.

“This is my last year and there’s a lot riding on this season,” Reese said. “We had a real good practice Monday and I expect it to be like that the whole week.”

Lennon agreed. There will be no letdown or prima donna attitudes.

“I take every game like it’s the national championship game,” said the former Greensboro Dudley star. “Coach Bennett preaches that we shouldn’t take anything for granted, especially football teams.”

That seriousness will carry over to the field.

“We don’t try to play around,” Lennon added. “We play every team on the schedule our best. And if we are beating somebody bad, the young kids get some experience.”


Those kids got experience last Friday.

Lennon and Reese turned coaches when Hargrave Military Academy visited Shuford Stadium for a scrimmage against mainly redshirt freshmen and sophomores.

Lennon gave some advice to the young receivers, while Reese watched his successors closely.

And they had their favorites. Lennon mentioned two Davidson County boys Brian Flynn (Central Davidson)and Brad McCrary (North Davidson) as standouts. Reese pointed to Daine Hedrick and Brandon Johnson, among others.

“It felt good getting to watch people who don’t play a lot,” Reese said.

“Those receivers looked awesome,” Lennon said. “They made some great plays.”


Great plays for Catawba College have become commonplace since Lennon and Reese came on board. The two have suffered just three losses in their last 31 games.

And Catawba has done it by not taking anyone lightly.

“We’ll play hard Saturday,” said Lennon, who always looks for the big plays on offense.

And should it come down to a big play on defense, Reese will be ready to carry the weight of the team on his shoulders.

And he can do it, too.


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