Sterling had to lose Reggie Langford in order for him to find himself.
Sounds cheesy? Maybe.
Is it the truth? Definitely.
“When the time was right for me to leave home again, to continue my education, I knew,” Langford said. “It feels good to be back in school, that’s for sure.”
Langford has been the spark behind No. 19 Sterling’s rise back to the top of the KCAC this season — the 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior quarterback is fourth in the league with 1,661 yards of total offense (860 rushing, 801 passing) and 19 total touchdowns. The Warriors are 6-2 and in a four-way tie for first place with No. 7 Tabor, No. 11 Ottawa and No. 17 Friends headed into Saturday’s game at McPherson.
Sterling was picked ninth in the KCAC preseason polls and has already played the other three teams vying for the crown — losing to Friends and upsetting Ottawa and Tabor. None of the teams the Warriors have left has a winning record.
“We haven’t accomplished anything yet, so we want to hold off on any talk like that,” Sterling coach Andy Lambert said. “Things can change really quickly, we all know that.”
Lambert recruited Langford to Sterling from American River (Calif.) College in Jan. 2012, but Langford left school right before the 2012 season began because of a family situation.
“I’m the second-oldest of eight kids, raised by a single mother and the oldest boy,” Langford said. “When my family needs me, I’m there. I’ve got responsibilities to them and it’s hard to be away when they are having trouble. This was a health situation.”
Two of Langford’s sisters have cerebral palsy — he moved back home to the Sacramento area and worked two jobs during the fall semester. Days as a sales associate at a clothing store and nights as a clerk at a grocery store.
When things were steadier with his family, he decided to come back to Sterling.
“He left in good standing, and we welcomed him back,” Lambert said. “The spring practices helped him tremendously. He had 15 opportunities to shake the rust off and learn our offense and it made a huge difference. He’s a rare cat … a guy that has leadership qualities and is also popular with his teammates and on campus. That’s along with his physical gifts.”
Langford relishes his new dual-threat label. He was considered primarily a runner in junior college and when he got to Sterling.
“My reads are there, my coaches are calling the plays and I’m executing,” Langford said. “It’s nice to hear (dual-threat) because people are starting to see I can pass, too. It feels good to win, but we still have a lot to take care of.”
“I think, for our numbers, we’re doing great,” Senthavy said. “Most teams have 20 to 25 players and we’re playing with 14 or 15 usually. I’m proud of us.”
Senthavy hasn’t backed down from a leadership role, either. She didn’t get to start or play much last year and revamped her attitude and training in the summer.
“I wanted to not just be a great player, but because I’m an upperclassmen I wanted to be a good example for the younger players,” Senthavy said. “That meant changing how I did things.”
And the story behind her unique name?
“It’s actually my middle name,” she said. “My first name is Thasadathone … I’m half-Thai and half-Laotian and my grandmother named me. It’s a nightmare when it comes to driver’s licenses and when I start a class. I usually see them looking at it and just hop in and tell them ‘That’s me. Just call me Mei-Mei.’”
The other finalist for football are current host Florence, Ala., and Bentonville, Ark. The other soccer finalists are Louisville, Ky., Evans, Ga., Orlando and Pensacola, Fla. The NCAA will announce the selections on Dec. 11.