PINEVILLE - A nickname handed down through the years by his family, Josh Reilley's moniker, "Rip" or "Ripper," is one in which he takes great pride. It's like a priceless family heirloom.

It's an appropriate label for a guy who likes to hit the weights and who also plays a position where it's easily justified.

The fact that it is not unique to one member of his family, but at least four, makes it unique in itself.

Rip sounds like a football player.

"My grandfather's name was Rip, and my dad's name was Richard and at some point it became Rip," Reilley said, as members of the Wyoming East football team conversed around him at the Wyoming County kickoff event at Doc's Landing at the Pineville E-Z Stop on Aug. 27. The event was broadcast live on 92.7 The Mix.

"From there it was passed down to my middle brother Todd, and then I picked it up."

Reilley will be a vital cog at center for the Warriors, and that line is expected to be a strength of this season's team.

He certainly has the name, and he has the strength that lends credence to the name. Hidden behind the moniker is something you don't see - a mental toughness.

He has seen some tough times, when it seems the world was ripped away from him. But he made it through.

It is the kind of tragedy where you remember the date.

It is the kind of tragedy that seemingly would be better if bottled up and hidden away.

It is the kind of tragedy that could drive a person from the things he loves.

Instead, it was the kind of tragedy that has given Reilley a more steely resolve when talking about it. It showed the Wyoming East junior that even at the worst of times, when you have real family backing you up, you can make it through the darkness and return to the light of the day.

The thing is, Reilley did not have one family backing him up. He had three. He still has three.

That dark day was Aug. 5, 2017, and he was just out for football as a freshman. That was the day that his dad, Richard, committed suicide.

"I'm OK to talk about, I've learned to accept it and I deal with it," Reilley said.

Instead of starting his football career, Reilley was dealing with a young person's nightmare.

Looking back, Reilley said that football family, his friends, helped him get through an ordeal no teenager is equipped to handle.

"I was glad I had football at that time because it really gave me something to do and helped me keep my mind off of it," Reilley said.

Of course, his real family was No. 1. Reilley said his mom really helped him get through, showing a steely resolve herself, being a mother to her children. She helped talk him through it, he said.

And there was also his fire department family, which had included his dad. His brother Todd, now a Wyoming County Sheriff's deputy, is also a member of the Mullens Fire Department. And so is his mom. And so is his sister-in-law. So much actual family it's more like a real family than people could guess.

The fire department, like the football field, was a place of respite.

"I spent a lot of time there, and, even though I can't really fight fires yet, because I'm not 18, I felt like being there, especially then, was like a second home."

Buoyed with that kind of support system, Reilley has blossomed into a top-notch lineman at Wyoming East, a center, the same position his dad played.

And that line is like a family inside the family.

Reilley is the only junior along with four seniors - left tackle Tanner Jenkins (the leader of the line), left guard Noah Francis, right guard Brandon Morgan and right tackle Isaac Perdue.

"A lot of us are what you'd consider undersized, but we are stout and we are strong," Reilley said. "I do think (the offensive) line will be a strength for us on offense, but we also have a good running game with Caleb Bower, and Seth (Ross) is an outstanding quarterback and we have good receivers. I have high expectations for this team. I want to help us get back to the playoffs."

Reilley reckons he has been called Rip since third grade, which was also the same time that coach Marc Schofield, then a midget football coach, moved Reilley to center, where he has been since.

And he knows that his father Rip would be proud of what he has accomplished.

"He was more of a baseball guy," Reilley said. "And my brother was a baseball player. For whatever reason, football has always been my favorite sport."

Reilley and his football family will open the season with Wyoming County rival Westside Sept. 6 at New Richmond (7:30 p.m.), and you can bet his other families will be there to watch him play.

Tags