Like Father, Like Son: Reese, Jr. bests dad at dad’s former school
For the Reese family, football has always been a family affair.
Wayne Reese, Jr. grew up around his father’s football programs, starting with Booker T. Washington.
Reese, Sr. served as head coach at Booker T. Washington from 1977-1982 before leaving for Carver.
“Dr. Elliott Willard gave me my first head coaching job at Booker T. Washington, hiring from John McDonogh,” Reese Sr. said. “I will always be appreciative.”
Reese, Sr. coached some excellent players with the Lions, including Calvin Magee, Michael Balls, Anthony Williams, Charles Smith, Neil Joseph, Archie Sutton and Todd Cooper. Magee went on to star at Southern before playing four seasons for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at tight end.
I started in the media industry when Reese, Sr. was at Booker T. Washington and he was a pleasure to deal with, kind as he could be to an inexperienced, young, aspiring journalist who had a lot to learn.
Now, Reese, Jr. is back at the school of the same name at KIPP-Booker T. Washington.
“It is great to see my son at Booker T. Washington,” Reese, Sr. said. “You could never imagine this, never dreamed this could happen. Wayne, Jr. loves football. I am very happy for him. He was a blessing to us at McDonogh 35 and as a son. We are very proud of him. He is very knowledgeable and he will do a very good job.”
In the Nick Connor Jamboree Saturday night, the son beat the father as KIPP-Booker T. Washington shocked McDonogh 35 by the score of 28-20 at Tad Gormley Stadium. Kentrell Harris threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third score to lead the way for the Lions.
“It was a house divided,” Reese, Sr. said. “It was a great experience. Our family was pulling for both of us. I guess they should have worn the colors of both schools.”
The win was a signature victory for a program in its infancy.
“Beating McDonogh 35, even in a jamboree, is special,” Reese, Jr. said. “Our Booker T. Washington family is very excited. That is a consistently excellent program. To compete well with them speaks well of the progress we have made.”
While Reese, Jr. is still basking in the glow of the victory, he has not forgotten how he got where he is.
“He taught me everything I know,” Reese, Jr. said. “I became interested in football when my dad was the head coach at Booker T. Washington and now I am at the school of the same name.”
Reese, Jr. coached under his father at McDonogh 35 for many years.
“There were mixed feelings,” Reese, Jr. said. “I always want my dad to be his best. I’ve been with this program, building it now. We want to be a prime-time team and play in big games.”
The Lions will have to wait to make their mark in the LHSAA.
“We jump into district play next year,” Reese, Jr. “We have mostly sophomores on the school but we have some freshman and juniors. Next year, we will be a full high school and have grades nine through 12. We cannot wait to have our shot.”
Stability has been the key to building what the Lions currently have.
“Our kids have been playing since middle school as part of the KIPP Academy,” Reese, Jr. said. “I had to convince them to stay and not go to Karr, McDonogh 35, Landry-Walker or Warren Easton. All of those programs are established programs and they are winning. I told them if they stay that they can build their own program, carve their own identity at Booker T. I appreciate them trusting the process and staying. In our society today, everyone wants instant gratification. These kids have been patient.”
KIPP-Booker T. Washington will begin competing for district and state honors in Class 3A next year.
“We are likely to be in a league with KIPP Renaissance, Sci Academy, Cohen and Sophie B. Wright unless things change,” Reese, Jr. said. “Of course, you never know.”
Harris is a very good quarterback for the Lions but he is a stark reminder of the precarious, fragile existence of young men on certain mean streets of New Orleans.
“Kentrell is a special story,” Reese, Jr. said. “He was an innocent bystander in a shooting last year and he was hit in the lower back and he has come back fine,” Reese, Jr. said. “That is a blessing. He is a good young man. We worry about our kids daily.”
KIPP-Booker T. Washington has a host of other good players as well, including running back and linebacker Aldon Dawson and running back/defensive back Keenen Boyd who is outstanding as well. Mike Johnson is a solid wide receiver and defensive back. Tyree Johnson is an outstanding right tackle. Tim Webb is a good defensive tackle and Joffriel Rogers is another solid defender.
The Lions open their regular season with Sophie B. Wright this coming Friday night at Joe Brown Stadium at 7 p.m. while McDonogh 35 battles St. Augustine Saturday night at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Booker T. Washington opened in 1942 on South Roman Street closed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 after the building was damaged by the storm. The building was demolished. Memories were quashed in the rubble. It seemed the legacy of the school was sealed, part of history.
While its current students are house on Third Street, the new school is rising anew, as we speak, in a familiar location.
“It is truly a rebirth,” Reese Jr. said. “We are really looking forward to the challenge. We are close to moving into our new building. The adults who attended Booker T. Washington back in the day are excited that we are carrying the name forward. We want to make them proud.”
While losing is never pleasant, even in a jamboree, the father cannot help but feel happy for the son and for the school that launched his career.
“It is great to see Booker T. Washington back again,” Reese, Sr. said. “Of course, that was not nice of our son to beat us. They are running the same stuff we run. We look about the same. They sure knew what we were doing. Our kids were looking ahead to St. Augustine and they paid for it. That is amazing that they could do what they did against us, an established program. We will have to work hard to get better.”
That is, thanks to the son showing the father what he is capable of doing.
“I am not surprised,” Reese, Sr. said. “He is a really good coach. He is a really good son.”
The same is true of the father.
“I am so blessed to have him as my mentor, my father,” Reese, Jr. said.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…