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Line operator

Burroughs assistant coach Mike Reily has helped the Indians gain a reputation of having productive offensive lines.

November 08, 2011|By Jeff Tully, jeff.tully@latimes.com
(Tim Berger Staff…)

Mike Reily is the type of person who brings a bouquet of flowers to Thanksgiving dinner, complements the host on the food, offers to give up his slice of pumpkin pie when the dessert offerings run out and even volunteers to help with the dishes.

He is someone fathers brag about, mothers want their daughters to bring home and the person you know would come and pick you up in the middle of the night when your car conks out on the road.

Reily is that nice.

"He is just a really nice guy," Burroughs High head football Coach Keith Knoop said about Reily, the Indians' offensive and defensive line coach. "He is a good guy in the community, he works hard and he cares about the school. He's a guy that the kids just want to be around. The players seem to bond more to him because I'm the one who always does the yelling. When Mike does yell, you know it's something important."

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Despite his easy-going demeanor and his gregarious personality, Reily, 35, who played at Burroughs and in college at UNLV, realized that being nice would get him nowhere when it came to football.

The coach said in order to be a successful player, an athlete must be able to instantaneously turn off his off-the-field persona and transform into a beast on the gridiron.

"We have a saying with our guys that we want them to have that switch," said Reily, who joined Knoop's staff in 2002. "Off the field we're very nice and it's always 'thank-you sir; no sir; yes ma'am.' You want to be the nicest, most polite guy there is when you're not playing. But when you get on the field, you have to be able to flip that switch and just become a raving maniac."

Reily said one of players who embodied that philosophy was Sebastian Valenzuela, an All-CIF Southern Section lineman who graduated in 2009 and made his way to the University of Washington.

"Off the field, Sebastian was always smiling and he was such a lovable, cuddly guy. But on the field he would rip your heart out," Reily said.

Reily has taken that philosophy and helped mold an offensive line tradition that has become one of Burroughs' fortes for nearly a decade.

"We just want to be smart football players," Reily said. "Most of the time we're not the biggest, we're not the baddest, the fastest or the strongest, but we pride ourselves at being good technicians and having our wits about us. We want to be smart football players.

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