Reggie Archer grew up playing football in PAL with Ken Simco, Troy Trent and many of the other guys who will make up the core of Riverhead’s varsity football team this season as seniors. When they reached high school, and the point where football takes on a more serious tone, their paths split.
As nearly all his friends in football began their careers in the junior varsity of a Riverhead program that’s one of the powerhouses in Suffolk County, Archer began his career at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School. While the Division IV program has never garnered the notoriety of the bigger public school a few miles away, Archer quickly saw one of the benefits of playing at a smaller school. As a freshman, he got to play on varsity, seeing time at cornerback on defense. An injury to the team’s starting running back opened the door for him to play offense midway through the season. By his sophomore year, he was the starting running back, playing both ways and earning all-county honors as the Monarchs reached the semifinals of the playoffs.
In the stands, the boisterous students would chant “Regg-ie Arch-er!”
Now as a senior, the 6-foot, 186-pound running back is gearing up for what he hopes will be his best season yet.
And sometimes, still, he’ll hear from his friends in the blue and white urging him to join their team.
“I love those guys over there,” he said. “I go to their homecoming games and stuff. It’s good. I really wanted to stay at Mercy. I wouldn’t want to leave.”
The Monarchs, under a new coaching staff led by Mike Buck, figure to rely heavily on Archer this season. Entering his third season as the team’s featured running back, he’s no longer a surprise to any teams in the league.
Part of the challenge for Archer and his teammates so far this season has been learning a new offensive system.
“Different calls, different plays,” he said. “Coach runs a different system than coach [Jeff] Doroski. I’m learning a lot from coach Buck. But I love coach Doroski. He was a great coach to me.”
To help prepare for this season, Archer ran with the outdoor track team last spring for the first time. He quickly discovered running in a straight line isn’t as simple as it looks.
“It’s a little bit different,” he said. “Football is moving and cutting and in track form is more important.”
By running the sprints — the 100- and 200-meter dashes — Archer hopes to see an improvement in his speed this year.
“In the open field it’ll probably help me out more,” he said.
One switch planned for Archer this year is a move from outside linebacker on defense to safety. The move figures to save Archer some of the burden of heavy hitting on defense that could keep him fresher on offense.
But things can change quickly. And Archer has the versatility to play a number of positions on defense if the team needs it.
He may also see time on special teams. Archer said he wasn’t sure yet how much of a role he’ll have on special teams, but it wouldn’t be a shocker to see him back returning kicks.
For all the ways he can contribute on the field, Archer admits the offense is what gets him most excited.
“I’m a running back at heart,” he said.
He hopes to continue his football career in college next year. This season could go a long way toward locking up an offer. While he’d prefer to play on offense in college, if an offer came in to play on defense in college, he wouldn’t hesitate.
“I just want to play football, especially in the college level,” he said.
Archer said he’s been trusting his guidance counselor through the process to help him find the right college.
“I want to have a big season this year,” he said. “Getting noticed my sophomore year, I don’t want to just hang on that. I want to improve from there, progress and have the best season I can possible have.”