by Adam Turer, PrepSports@enquirer.com / Photo by Tony Tribble, Cincinnati Enquirer
When Princeton hired Pat McLaughlin as its new head football coach, the Vikings knew they were getting a quarterback whisperer.
The results have been immediate and impressive. Senior quarterback Solomon Reed, in his first full season as a starter, leads the Greater Miami Conference in completion percentage and passing touchdowns, is tied for the lead in touchdown-to-interception ratio, and is second in passing yards. Not bad for a player who entered camp in August knowing that he had to earn the starting job.
"I felt like I had to work hard every day to prove to coach that I could be the number one guy," said Reed. "I had to do every little thing the right way."
That meant paying closer attention to details in practice, in the weight room, and while cultivating relationships with his receivers. Reed has led the Vikings to a 4-1 start, with the only loss coming against top-ranked Colerain. His teammates have responded to his leadership. They voted him captain before the season.
"That spoke very highly of what the kids think of him," said McLaughlin. "He has command of the offense."
At 6-2 and 215 pounds, Reed looks like a quarterback. In addition to passing for 849 yards and 12 touchdowns, he has also rushed for 101 yards and two scores. In a 45-17 win over Oak Hills on September 27, he completed 17 of 18 passes for 260 yards and five touchdowns. He has thrown just two interceptions this season.
"He's got all the physical tools. He's a smart kid and he picked up the offense quickly," said McLaughlin. "A lot of it is confidence. He's gained confidence every week."
The new offensive scheme is a quarterback's dream. Reed has excelled at making pre-snap reads and post-snap decisions. Working with McLaughlin has made him a better quarterback and in turn made him a more effective leader.
"I learned how to throw the right way and how to slow the game down," said Reed. "My job is to become a leader on the field and make everybody on the field better. [This offense] gives me great leverage against the defense and lets our skill guys go one on one and lets me make better reads."
Both McLaughlin and Reed gave credit to the offensive line and receivers who have allowed the offense to produce at such a high level. C.J. Henderson leads the team with 13 receptions for 353 yards. Receivers Ray Kozlowsi, Bryce Burton, Daevon Bryant, and Raphael Floyd and tight end Dominic Pierce give Reeds plenty of distribution options.
"Our philosophy is to get everybody involved," said McLaughlin. "[Solomon's] accuracy and decision making to this point have been very good."
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