Atlantic City relies heavily on quarterback Jarren McBryde on and off the field
The nature of the friendship between Atlantic City High School football players Jarren McBryde and Dayshawn Reynolds changes once they leave the field.
On the field, McBryde is the quarterback and Reynolds plays wide receiver. McBryde decides who gets the ball on each pass play.
Off the field, Reynolds takes over.
"I'm his personal driver," McBryde said with a laugh.
The two often go out to eat. McBryde drives and Reynolds chooses the restaurant.
His choice of late - Chick-fil-A in Egg Harbor Township. They also go out for pizza every Thursday.
The topic of conversation over dinner?
"Nothing but football," Reynolds said.
The senior duo have propelled the Atlantic City High School football team to the South Jersey Group V semifinals. The Vikings (8-2) play at Williamstown (10-0) at 7 p.m. today (Radio: 97.3 FM). Williamstown is No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, while Atlantic City is No. 7.
McBryde has thrown for 1,982 yards and 19 touchdowns, while Reynolds has caught 46 passes for 873 yards and nine touchdowns.
Vikings coach Thomas Kelly said their friendship plays a big role in the players' success.
"You get to know a kid. You get to trust him. You hang out with him," Kelly said. "When one is down, the other is picking you up."
McBryde and Reynolds first met in the fall of their eighth-grade year when they played in an Atlantic County Junior Football League (ACJFL) All-Star game.
McBryde grew up in Cherry Hill. He lives with his grandparents, and they moved to Brigantine just before he started eighth grade.
"My grandmom likes the shore," McBryde said.
Once he moved to the shore, McBryde excelled at quarterback for the Brigantine Rams. Reynolds was already a standout receiver for the Atlantic City Dolphins.
The two spoke at practices for the ACJFL All-Star game and at a breakfast before the game.
But they then lost touch. Reynolds enrolled immediately in Atlantic City High School. McBryde spent his freshman and sophomore years at Holy Spirit before transferring to Atlantic City for his junior season.
Reynolds heard rumors the summer before their junior year that McBryde might become a Viking.
"I didn't know if it was true or not until he ended up in my (web design) class (that September)," Reynolds said.
Reynolds helped McBryde make the transition to his new school.
"He introduced me to a lot of people," McBryde said. "We just clicked."
McBryde played wide receiver most of last season as the Vikings finished 6-4 and lost in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs to eventual champion Pennsauken.
McBryde didn't grow up playing quarterback. He was a running back in Cherry Hill.
But Reynolds saw how strong McBryde's arm was in practice and tried to convince him to play quarterback.
Just before the Vikings' annual Thanksgiving game with Holy Spirit last year, McBryde had no choice but to move to quarterback.
The Vikings' starting quarterback left the team. With the position vacant, the coaches turned to McBryde.
"There's an old football adage that in a tough situation you snap the ball to your best player," Kelly said. "We knew we had great athlete on our hands. It was an easy decision."
Atlantic City lost to Spirit 28-6, but the Vikings found a quarterback.
"I was nervous (before the game)," McBryde said. "But it felt good to have the ball in my hands every play. It felt good to be one of the top leaders out there."
McBryde, who also plays defensive back, gives the Vikings plenty of toughness.
If receivers aren't open downfield, he runs often for long gains and first downs. The 6-foot, 192-pounder can run over tacklers and sprint away from them.
He sparked the Vikings to a 34-30 comeback over Absegami in the South Jersey Group V quarterfinals on Nov. 16. Atlantic City trailed 30-13 with 10 minutes to play, but McBryde ran for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lead the comeback.
"Some players give the players around them a calming effect," Kelly said. "When the guys see him in the huddle, they have the idea that things are going to be all right."
The 6-1, 181-pound Reynolds is one of the region's most talented players. Some receivers can leap for passes, like Reynolds does. Some are as fast as Reynolds. But few can elude would-be tacklers like Reynolds once they catch the ball.
"I'll take Dayshawn over anybody in South Jersey," Kelly said. "We tell (McBryde) to throw him the ball. That's one of his best friends and one of the best receivers around. It's not a hard sell."
Still, Reynolds, like all wide receivers, knows he has to flatter the quarterback to get more passes thrown his way.
Reynolds gives McBryde a break when they go out to eat.
He doesn't make him go through the drive-thru. They keep McBryde's car clean and eat inside the restaurant.
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