Dutchtown High safeties Alonzo Craighton and Justin Reid won’t claim to be like salt and pepper or red beans and rice. They may be the perfect combination for the Griffins.
Some recruiters already think so. The Griffins’ dynamic duo seeks more than accolades or scholarship offers. Reid and Craighton want to be the catalysts for a deep playoff run.
“They’ve assumed team leadership roles,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia said. “This is their team, and it’s something that they are going to remember for the rest of their lives.”
Craighton and Reid headline a Dutchtown secondary that returns four starters. With another year of experience under their belts and a home playoff loss to Destrehan as motivation, the duo is ready to get back to competing on the football field. With the jamboree still a month away, the two teammates and best friends have to settle for competing against one another in practice for now.
“We are always seeing who can run the fastest or who can jump the highest,” Craighton said. “There is always something between me and him. When I do something, he wants to do it even better and when he does something, I want to do it even better.”
It is a mentality that does not stay on the football field either.
“We’re clowns,” laughed Reid whose older brother, Eric, is a former Dutchtown and LSU star who is now a safety with the San Francisco 49ers. “When we were taking pictures for football, we would try to make the other one laugh to ruin the photos. We’re family, joking around and having fun.”
As friends and football players, the two complement each other perfectly. Craighton likes to roam the field and keep everything in front of him, which allows Reid to be more aggressive and look for the big hits.
It’s a strategy that has made it tough for opposing quarterbacks.
“It’s awesome to have one extraordinary safety on one side and another extraordinary safety on the other side,” Reid said. “Pick your poison, whichever side you go to, you’re going to have a hard time either way.”
But as seniors, both realize that they only have a handful of games left together, and they want to make the most of it.
“Who knows, Justin and I may not play together after this year,” Craighton said. “It hurts to think about that, so we want to leave our mark with this team before we leave.”
After sitting out most of his sophomore season because of a fractured growth plate, Craighton was largely unknown to colleges entering his junior year. But after a successful 2013 season and summer workouts, he has picked up offers from Louisiana Tech, Appalachian State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe, in addition to ongoing interest from Kansas State.
He is hoping that another good season will gain him more suitors.
“I want to have the chance to play in the SEC or ACC,” he said. “I want this season to be a breakout season for me.”
Being the brother of an NFL safety, Reid’s recruiting situation is a little bit different from Craighton’s in that he has been under the microscope from the start. He holds more than 20 scholarship offers, including schools such as Arizona State and Mississippi State.
Reid was recently in Eugene, Oregon, at The Opening, a three-day Nike-sponsored event that showcases the country’s best 162 high school football players. After a successful showing there, he picked up offers from Arizona and Oklahoma.
“That was a once in a lifetime experience,” he said. “I think I did extremely well. Some of the coaches thought I was the most polished safety there.”
Now, Reid is happy to be home and resuming football activities with Craighton and the rest of his Dutchtown teammates.
While they both think about where they will be playing in the future, they also know that they have to put those thoughts aside in order to fully lead the Griffins back to the playoffs.
“I feel like we can make a run,” Reid said. “If everybody takes care of their responsibilities, we can definitely make it to the (Mercedes-Benz Superdome, the site of the state title games).”
On the heels of his friends’ words, Craighton made sure to add: “Every team we play, we want to beat, but mostly Destrehan, because they knocked us out.”