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Riverbank Male Athlete of the Year - Reynaga Reigns As "The Biggest Bruin"
It's easy to underestimate 2012 Riverbank High graduate Alex Reynaga.

He's short, slender, quiet and poses about as much physical intimidation as a squirrel.

But it's not the size of the jersey on the Bruin; it's the size of the Bruin in the jersey.

Reynaga dazzled sports fans for four spectacular years of athletics at Riverbank High. He was supernatural on the football field, magical on the basketball court and even delivered wonders on the Bruin track. He was the heartbeat of the Riverbank Bruins during his tenure at the school, holding nothing back with each contest as he left everything his 5 foot, 7 inch frame could offer on each respective field of play.

Reynaga proved himself as a sensational athlete and earns well-deserved recognition from The Riverbank News as the 2011-12 Riverbank Male Athlete of the Year.

"I think when people watch Alex play, they know he is a tough competitor, but they are surprised that he is not real big," Riverbank basketball coach Jeff Jennings said. "But then he steps on the court and he plays big, whether it be a big shot or big play. He is just a tough young man."

"Alex demonstrated the type of player that every coach dreams about," Riverbank football coach James Oliver said. "He is a great example of work ethic and the passion to compete. He is a real special athlete."

If Bruin football fans weren't certain Reynaga was a sensational quarterback and defender before his senior year, they found out fast during Riverbank's first game of this past season.

Riverbank was down a touchdown in the final moments against Waterford, but Reynaga sparked a scoring drive in the last few seconds of the game to send the contest into overtime. There, he converted a fourth down touchdown pass to Raymond Burney, and Riverbank booted an extra point to win 20-19. Afterwards Reynaga was awash in tears. He had lifted Riverbank on his back with 129 rushing yards on 19 carries and completed 4 of 5 passes with a defensive interception.

"After that game I knew that what was special about him was his will to win," Oliver said. "That's what sets him apart from other athletes.

"After that game you could tell he had absolutely nothing more to give. He had left everything out on that field, and not many athletes can say that."

Despite the difficulty of a Trans-Valley League schedule that includes three of the historically toughest small school teams in the state (Escalon, Hilmar and Modesto Christian) Reynaga went on to complete 42 of 94 passes for 623 yards and six scores. His true talent was in Riverbank's rushing attacks, where battering defenders couldn't stop him from rolling to 952 yards on 122 carries (7.8 yards a carry). He went over 100 yards rushing on five occasions and sprinted to 11 touchdowns. His last touch was a heroic scamper for an 85-yard touchdown against Hughson on the last play of Riverbank's season. Reynaga had 73 tackles on the season and intercepted an incredible nine passes from his safety position.

And even though teams would hit him as often as possible in attempts to limit his touches, Reynaga proved durable through an entire season of lumps and bruises. His durability was stunning for a two-way player of such importance to the team.

"Our whole success was based on Alex," Oliver said. "His storied performances made things work."

And after football season, Reynaga never let up. The point guard led Riverbank's basketball team to the playoffs after 10.7 points, four assists and two steals a game in 22 appearances.

He scored 68 points in the final six games of conference play as the Bruins rallied to ensure a solid seed into the playoffs. There, Reynaga led Riverbank to wins over Mariposa and San Juan to lock a trip to the semifinals and NorCal bracket qualification.

"The greatest thing for me was to see his growth from freshman to senior year," Jennings said. "He is a real fierce competitor who learned to channel everything into positive energy and become a leader on the football field and basketball court."

Months later, Reynaga hit personal best marks to finish second in the 110 hurdles at the TVL Track and Field Championships with an impressive 17.16 second time. He was also fourth in the 300 hurdles.

The track season was Reynaga's final stamp on a terrific career as a Riverbank Bruin. His labors and the examples he set for future Riverbank athletes will last forever.