Entsminger carves own path to success

By Jeff Nations

STEPHENS CITY — Sherando High School senior quarterback Reid Entsminger waits patiently for the question he just knows is eventually going to come.

Having a grandfather who just so happens to be a legendary Washington Redskins place-kicker ensures that Entsminger will get that question, sooner or later — how’s the kicking leg, Reid?

“Yeah, I’m not much of a kicker,” Entsminger said Monday with a sort of resigned smile, before comparing his own football skill-set with that of his famous grand-dad, Redskins great Mark Moseley, who spent 14 of his 16 professionals seasons as the Redskins’ kicker and won the 1982 NFL Most Valuable Player Award.

“He didn’t really become a kicker until the end of college,” Entsminger said of Moseley. “I guess he was just kicking around and a coach saw him and said, ‘How would you like to be our kicker?’ That’s how he got drafted, because he went to college as a quarterback and safety. He played both and I think running back, too.”

“… I don’t have the kicking asset that he did, but me and him are basically the same type of player. I think he was the same size as me — he might have been a little bit faster, but I don’t know. He might exaggerate a little bit.”

He might, since Entsminger has always had plenty of quickness. A four-year starter at strong safety and three-year starter at quarterback (he split time with Jalen Brisco as a sophomore), Entsminger has caught up as an offensive player with his ability on the defensive side.

It’s been a work in progress — Entsminger remembers being “a nervous wreck” on passing plays early in his career as quarterback at Sherando, and was much more comfortable running the ball.

“My first snap against Martinsburg, I was so nervous,” Entsminger said of his sophomore year. “I think I still had my feet to the right and the receiver was to the left, and I just threw it. It was way off. I’m 10 times better than I was my sophomore year.”

That didn’t just happen. Fellow senior George Aston, once Entsminger’s rival in middle school as the quarterback at Robert E. Aylor Middle School (Entsminger was the QB at Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School), has been a first-hand witness to that development over the past few off-seasons.

“He’s progressed tremendously,” Aston said. “I’ve been working with him in the offseason every single year, and his work ethic is like no other. He’s worked on his footwork, his arm strength — if you watch film of him even from last year to this year at quarterback, it’s like you wouldn’t even recognize him. He looks unreal, the way he’s playing this year.”

The numbers back that up. Against Liberty in the Class 4A North quarterfinals, Entsminger was sharp once more with a 10-for-16 passing effort for 219 yards and a touchdown. He hasn’t forgotten how to run, either, gaining 90 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts.

In 12 games this season, Entsminger has completed 101 of 172 passing attempts for 1,948 yards with 19 touchdowns and only four interceptions. He’s also Sherando’s second-leading rusher with 697 yards and five touchdowns.

Entsminger — who missed the final five games last season with a broken collarbone — brings much more than raw statistics to the Warriors’ offense, though. In the huddle and at the line of scrimmage, he exudes the sort of calm and collected attitude that inspires his teammates.

“He gels everybody,” Sherando junior running back LeeQuan Johnson said. “You remember the commercial, ‘Are you gellin’?’ He’s the type of guy, he’ll take control if we’re trying to get things calmed down or something’s not right with the line or something. He’ll get everybody gellin’ and he’ll get everything going. Once he does that, everything just starts to connect.

“He leads us, man, and I love it. And I try to add on as much as I can.”

Sherando’s offense has become more diversified in step with Entsminger this season, and the senior signal caller is quick to credit teammates for that success.

“We’ve got tons of weapons to use,” said Entsminger, who was named the Northwestern District’s Offensive Player of the Year a couple weeks ago. “I mean, our wide receivers are great. We’ve got great running backs. We’ve got [Daniel] Eppard, who’s a wide receiver, hybrid running back/fullback, and we’ve just got weapons all over. Our offensive line is big, they’re strong. I think it’s that we’ve worked together for four years and everybody’s on the same page. We’ve all got the same mind-set, which is we want to win.”

As Entsminger has gotten even more valuable as an offensive player, Sherando’s coaching staff has occasionally tried to get him a breather on defense. But when the stakes are high, Entsminger is a familiar sight roaming at strong safety for the Warriors.

Defense is where Entsminger has the best shot at making an impact in college, although he hasn’t given up on the idea of playing offense if the opportunity were presented to him. He has an official visit planned in January to visit Lamar University, which has been recruiting him to play defense.

“It used to be 100 percent safety, but I don’t know … I kind of like quarterback now,” Entsminger said. “I wouldn’t mind playing offense in college, playing wide receiver or something like that, but I know because of my height I’m not the typical quarterback for a team in college.

“I still like defense more. I like to hit people. That’s my main thing. I like to hit people. I like to initiate the pain instead of taking it.”

Entsminger is also an accomplished baseball player, and helped Sherando win a state championship in that sport just last year. There could be an opportunity to play baseball in college, as well, but for now Entsminger is focused on the football field.

“As of right now, it’s football,” Entsminger said. “I don’t know — when I’m in football season, it’s football. When I’m in baseball season, it’s baseball, too. It’s just decisions, decisions. I’ll have to make them when the time comes. But right now I’m just worried about football and winning this game Friday night.”

That game, a Class 4A North home matchup against Courtland at Sherando’s Arrowhead Stadium on Friday night, is another opportunity for Entsminger and his teammates to do what they like best — put on the pads and go play.

“We’re a winning team,” Entsminger said. “That’s our tradition here at Sherando, and that’s just what we’ve been trying to do is just win ballgames. Week after week, we just want to keep playing.”

Entsminger said his father, Doug, has been the biggest family influence in terms of his sports career. But Moseley is at every game, and he’s always willing to provide helpful criticism or praise whenever necessary.

“He doesn’t get too involved,” Entsminger said. “He comes to all my games, corrects me on things I’ve done wrong and things I do right. He doesn’t try to do too much. He’s a grandfather first. He doesn’t want to be a coach or anything. He just wants to be my support.”

Entsminger knows there can sometimes be expectations when following in the footsteps of an accomplished player like his grandfather, but he’s never been bothered by any would-be comparisons.

“I don’t pay attention to pressure,” Entsminger said. “People can say what they want, but my grandfather’s not me. He’s Mark Moseley, I’m Reid Entsminger — two different people.

“Of course people are going to judge me based off his achievements or what he’s done, but I don’t pay much attention to it. I just play football the way I know how to, play baseball the way I know how to and I don’t pay attention to what the outside people have to say.”

Contact Sports Editor Jeff Nations at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or jnations@nvdaily.com>