116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Reid Ortiz is in his third varsity football season.
Even though the senior quarterback has seen action the last two years, this marks the first with the reins of Cedar Rapids Washington’s offense clenched in his hands. Ortiz is applying what he has taken from his predecessor, Henry Clymer, and others.
“I’ve learned a lot from the previous quarterbacks,” Ortiz said. “I’ve tried to use those things that I’ve learned from them.”
Ortiz has produced solid numbers leading Class 4A third-ranked Washington’s offense to a 2-0 record before Friday night’s game against 5A No. 4 Cedar Rapids Kennedy at Kingston Stadium.
“No matter what you want to say, he’s been on varsity for three years, but this is his first year as the guy,” Washington Coach Maurice Blue said after the Warriors’ 26-9 victory over Marion. “That is a whole different ball of wax and he cares, so he puts a little too much pressure on himself. He just had to relax. Once he did, we were fine.”
This season is different. Ortiz was thrust into the starting role amid a six-game losing streak when Clymer suffered a season-ending injury in the first half against Davenport Assumption. He threw for just 146 yards passing with one touchdown. He had almost as much impact receiving (48 yards, one TD) and rushing (65 yards, one TD) than passing.
Now, Ortiz has been a leader from the first day and embraces that role as a senior. His numbers and his ability to manage the offense is improved.
Washington’s offense struggled early against the Wolves last week. Blue said they challenged him at halftime. He responded with second-half scoring strikes to Watts McBride and Michael Blank to help the Warriors pull away.
“There is a reason these guys voted him as a captain,” Blue said. “They trust him. They believe in him.”
Ortiz has passed for 279 yards and four touchdowns, which is twice as many TDs he has thrown in limited time the last two seasons. His 132 yards against Cedar Rapids Jefferson in the opener and 147 in Week 2 are both game-highs for him.
“These guys are looking up to me, now,” Ortiz said. “They haven’t really the past couple years. I have to show them I’m ready to do this for them. I am. I’m ready to step up for them.”
The Cougars defense will be one of the toughest challenges he will face all season. Ortiz has made strides and his focus is to keep making them throughout the season.
“I’m still learning every day,” Ortiz said. “This is a process. By the end of it, I’ll be my best.”