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Riverbank Bruins Close Thrilling Football Season
The shotgun snap to Riverbank senior Alex Reynaga at the Bruin 42 yard-line represented the final play of Friday's varsity football game against Hughson and the last of Reynaga's prep career.

So he made it count.

Reynaga dashed 58 yards for a touchdown as time expired in one final heroic and thrilling moment to finalize a tremendous career on the Bruin gridiron. The play capped a 31-22 loss to Hughson, but was the perfect sendoff to one of the most dynamic athletes in Bruin football history.

"It was one of those things with a storybook ending," first year Riverbank coach James Oliver said. "If anybody deserved that, it was Alex.

"That play was Alex at his best, and that's just what Alex does."

Reynaga finished with nine carries for 119 yards and made 10 big tackles on defense. He finished the season just 48 yards shy of 1000 yards on only 122 carries with 11 rushing touchdowns and 623 passing yards (six scores). The passionate senior had 62 tackles and nine defensive interceptions.

"Obviously you can't replace Alex Reynaga or his heart," Oliver said. "It took him a while to gather himself after the game because he didn't want to leave the field."

Reynaga played a big role in Riverbank's 3-1 preseason, which nearly left the team unbeaten after a 14-13 loss to Delhi (6-4). But preseason success only led Riverbank into a grueling conference lineup that featured five eventual Division IV Sac-Joaquin Section playoff qualifiers and four state ranked teams (Escalon, Hilmar, Ripon, Modesto Christian).

The Bruins (3-7) came close to besting playoff qualifier Orestimba in a 21-14 defeat on Oct. 7, but struggled against state powerhouses in one of the toughest leagues in the section and state.

"It's an honor to play in one of the toughest small school leagues in the whole state," Oliver said. "The plan is to get better so we can be competitive with the topnotch teams."

Oliver said his players will get a break for a week, but plans to bring the program together for weightlifting on Nov. 14. He said the team will participate in more 7-on-7 action during the summer and likely participate in a contact camp at host Turlock as well. The 2012 season schedule for the squad will likely drop Division VI Big Valley and include Division IV Linden.

"The TVL is really tough to prepare for, but you really have to get the attitude that you can compete," Oliver said. "We return eight starters on defense but we are losing the bulk of our offensive line and we have some hard work to do in the offseason."

Oliver extended his thanks to all those that supported Riverbank football this season and offered his prayer and a blessing to the family of Bruin sophomore Daniel Palomino. Palomino's father passed away on Friday and Daniel fought through emotions to participate in the contest against Hughson.