When the final whistle blew in Dulaney’s victory over Kenwood in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs last November, the Lions celebrated as if they won a championship.
Dulaney had its first-ever state postseason victory.
After the postgame team huddle, Lions coach Daron Reid embraced his assistant Paul Thompson.
“It was a different hug…it was so special to see his face,” said Thompson. “Me and him knew it was going to be the last game.”
It would be the final shining moment for Reid, who lost a valiant battle with pancreatic cancer last weekend.
He was 41.
“He was like a big brother to me,” said Thompson, who took over for Reid as Lions coach shortly after the season ended. “What he meant to the community, the kids, is remarkable.”
Reid went 32-59 in 10 seasons at the Baltimore County school. The Lions, winless in 2021, finished 4-7 last fall including its landmark postseason win - a come-from-behind 36-24 road decision over Kenwood.
“We accomplished a lot with little. In past years, when we needed to have that one play we would fold and buckle,” said Thompson, who was the Lions’ offensive coordinator. “This year, we didn’t fold and buckle, even if we didn’t get it done, teams had to earn it.”
A lot of that grit came from Reid, who was diagnosed with late stage pancreatic cancer in 2020.
The effects mounted on Reid, a former defensive back at Western Connecticut University, during the 2022 season.
“He would sit in a chair…he didn’t want the kids to know he was in so much pain,” said Thompson. “Our kids would run over to him if there was a question. He would text us (assistants), ‘hey I’m yelling at you,’ if he saw something he didn’t like.”
Thompson met with the Dulaney players a couple of days ago. The school sent out an e-mail to the school community Monday, announcing Reid’s passing.
“He built a high character program within a school that’s very challenging because of the success of the other programs. He never complained,” said former Dulaney athletic director Richard Reed. “He always went through the grind and just put those kids on a different level. He gave them everything he had.”
Reed, who served as Lions athletic director from 2013 to 2019, said “he took a leap of faith,” when he asked Reid, then defensive coordinator at Franklin, to lead Dulaney’s football program.
The Lions had only one winning season between 2004 and 2012. Franklin, one of the area’s top teams, were on the cusp of winning three Class 3A championships in seven seasons.
“He saw something he wanted to be a part of,” said Reed, who was hired by then-principal Linda Whitlock, a die-hard University of Florida fan who, according to Reed, wanted the Dulaney program improved. “One of the biggest pieces was to get football on track and the biggest piece was the coaching.”
Franklin coach Anthony Burgos first met Reid, then a substitute teacher at the Reisterstown school in 2004.
“He meant so much to the program,” said Burgos, who relinquished defensive coordinator duties to Reid in 2007. “He related to the young guys. It was a great atmosphere. He was a major piece in making Franklin football successful.”
A California native who graduated from Western Connecticut in 2002, Reid was familiar with Baltimore County public schools. His father, Rodney, was the longtime Junior ROTC coordinator at Milford Mill. Mother Monica was a secretary at Woodlawn.
“He was a hard worker,” said Milford Mill coach Reggie White, the dean of Baltimore County football coaches. “If you needed something, he was there. He was a major part of the county coaching brotherhood.”
Reed remembered Reid voraciously writing notes as legendary University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, using an overhead projector, taught defensive secondary techniques at a coaching clinic in Pennsylvania.
Reed, who coached alongside Reid on Franklin’s junior varsity, said Reid became an integral part of the Dulaney community.
“To bring diversity to that staff…there’s no price tag for it,” said Reed, who served as Franklin’s athletic director before moving to Dulaney. “Daron was a phenomenal educator.
He just knew how you were feeling and would give you a bear hug. It was disarming and full of love. He was genuine.”
Thompson remembers the times with Reid, a behavior interventionist at Dulaney, outside the Xs and Os.
“We’d talk about sports, life, you name it,” said Thompson. “He was trying to make me a better person, a better man.”
Thompson said Reid sacrificed for his players, taking them on college visits or helping with expenses.
Thompson, who lives in Arnold, nearly an hour away from Dulaney, wants to honor Reid, who leaves behind a wife, three children, his parents and two siblings.
“He (Reid) started something amazing, and I just got to keep it going,” said Thompson. “The guy was amazing.”
A public viewing for Reid will be Thursday Feb. 23 at the Vaughn Greene Funeral Home in Randallstown. The memorial service will be Friday Feb. 24 at Vaughn Greene at 3 p.m., following the wake at 2 p.m.