Reagan’s football team has shed its doormat status over the past three seasons and earned respectability.
On Wednesday night, it moved a step closer to potentially becoming a playoff team for the first time.
Led by a running game that amassed 330 yards, Reagan remained undefeated with a 32-16 district win over Dr. Krop at North Miami Stadium.
The Bison (5-0, 2-0 District 13-8A), two years removed from a 9-1 record while playing as an independent, are one of five remaining undefeated Miami-Dade County public school teams.
“Even when we used to lose games 70-0 other years, we used to come back next morning in the weight room and work to get better,” Reagan coach John Lopez said. “We handle this the same way. We’ll be back tomorrow morning getting ready for our next game.”
Four running backs ran for 61 yards or more Wednesday led by Juan Saldarriaga’s 100 yards on 11 carries. Saldarriaga helped put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when he broke a 39-yard run that set up Angel Fernandez’s 9-yard touchdown run. Saldarriaga also scored earlier in the quarter on a 3-yard touchdown.
Lopez credited new offensive coordinator Joseph McCrink’s offensive system as one of the major keys to the team’s improvement.
“We have the personnel that fit our new offensive system that coach McCrink installed this offseason,” Lopez said. “We drive, push and run. Those are our type of kids.”
Krop (1-4, 0-2) cut Reagan’s lead to 18-16, scoring all of its points in the third quarter following an hour-long lightning delay that started during halftime.
Quarterback Raekwon Hankerson sparked the Lightning with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Bellochi Lacomb and later caught an 88-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Edgardo Mendez when he lined up at receiver.
“Our district has a lot of those 7-on-7 type passing teams so we have to get better at defending those,” Lopez said.
Reagan answered with a 94-yard drive that was capped by Saldarriaga’s touchdown.
Earlier in the game, Reagan had opportunities to score more, but sputtered a bit in the red zone. However, kicker Steven Mejia made sure the Bison did not come up empty making 3 of 3 field goal attempts as Reagan built a 15-0 lead at the half.
T.J. Callen finished with 89 yards rushing on 15 attempts and Diego Mendoza totaled 76 yards on four carries. Fernandez had 61 yards on 10 attempts.
Reagan quarterback Tyler Ibarra also threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Puentes in the first half.