Former Commerce High School quarterback Reuben Haynes is making history at Lenoir-Rhyne College.
Saturday, The fifth-year senior quarterback led the Bears to their first post-season victory in 50 years. Haynes helped Lenoir-Rhyne defeat Fort Valley State 21-6 in the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.
The victory is the eighth straight for the Bears, in what Haynes described as a “season of overcoming adversity.”
The 2012 season started on a rough point for Haynes, as he suffered a concussion in the season opener at Concord and was forced to sit out the next two games.
“We had to face a lot of adversity early on in the season,” said Haynes. “I came back against North Greenville and we got on a roll after that. We were able to win seven games in a row, which I think that says a lot about our team — about how we were able to overcome that adversity.”
Since his return to the field on Sept. 29, Haynes has put up solid numbers.
Haynes is 22-48 passing; with 467 yards and six TDs. Haynes is also the Bears’ third leading rusher, with 108 attempts for 670 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Coming in to the season, we had really high expectations,” Haynes said. “Coming off a conference championship last year, we had a bunch of veteran guys coming back, so we felt like we had a strong chance of repeating that success.”
The Bears did repeat that success, and then some.
Haynes will now lead Lenoir-Rhyne into its second playoff matchup on the road next Saturday, to face Carson-Newman.
Haynes attributed much of his success under center at Lenoir-Rhyne to the experience he gained while playing at Commerce under coach Steve Savage.
“Coach Savage was a great coach,” said Haynes. “He knew a lot about the triple option, and was able to help me out on schemes. Whenever I was at Commerce a lot of the weight was on me, as far as running the ball and throwing it as well. He really helped me prepare for the games in college.”
Haynes was originally recruited by Lenoir-Rhyne due to his proficiency in running the triple-option offense, which the Bears as well as the Tigers are known for.
Haynes says that his nine years of running the triple-option have helped mold him into a trusted leader for the Bear offense.
After college, Haynes plans on staying involved in the sport as much as possible.
“It wouldn’t be right if your goal wasn’t to keep on playing, but I really want to be a coach,” he said. “I’m going to try and stay here as a graduate assistant if they have a spot for me. I think I can help the team out a lot with my knowledge of the offense.”
Haynes added that his biggest influence in wanting to become a coach is Rex Gregg, the current head girls’ basketball coach at Commerce High School.
“I talk to him just about every week and we still stay in close contact,” said Haynes. “He made a huge impact on me. I really want to be a good influence on kids like coach Gregg was to me.”
While Haynes’ college career is coming to a close, he remains steadfast in encouraging others to pursue college athletics.
“If they have the opportunity, take full advantage of it,” he said. “If you don’t you will regret it the rest of your life. A lot of kids don’t get that opportunity to go on and play in college. I would say to them just to strive to be successful, have passion about the game, and I encourage them to take the opportunity to go as far as they can.”