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Senior Shane Reiner is an anchor of a staunch defensive unit while playing the middle linebacker position for the Hand football squad. (Photo courtesy of Shane Reiner )
Shane Reiner played a few different sports while growing up in Madison, but ultimately, he found his home on the football field. It turned out to be a sound decision for Shane, who is currently leading one of the best defenses in the state as a linebacker for the Hand football team.
Shane and the Tigers have a record of 9-0 and are riding a 33-game winning streak heading into their Thanksgiving Eve game against Guilford. Shane suits up as a middle linebacker for Hand, joining fellow senior Lukas Wagner at that position. The Tigers’ defense has only allowed 66 points on the season, and no opponent has scored more than two touchdowns in a game against Shane and company.
Interim Head Coach Mike DeVito says that Shane brings a perfect mix of physical and mental fortitude to the field.
“Shane is one of those throwback type players. He loves to hit. He combines smarts, instinct, along with a physical side,” says DeVito. “Shane and Lukas are the guys in the middle. They have to read the other team’s offense. We’re going to lose both of them this year through graduation. It’ll be a big loss for this team.”
Shane is carrying on a legacy at Hand where middle linebackers have been a linchpin for a tradition of outstanding teams. Shane played alongside Kevin Girardi at the position last year. Prior to that, the Tigers had top-notch linebackers like 2017 graduate Brian Casagrande, current linebackers coach Danny Ives, and 2012 graduate Matt Walsh, who went on to play at UConn.
“I remember going to games as a young kid and seeing Matt play,” Shane says. “There’s such a tradition in Madison for that winning tradition. It’s a mindset that all Hand players seem to have.”
Shane, who also plays fullback, trained for two summers with Casagrande. Shane says that he’s wanted to play middle linebacker ever since he watched clips of New York Giants’ Hall of Fame player Lawrence Taylor.
“My family have been Giants’ fans for years. They’re suffering a bit now, but I think that will change,” says Shane. “I don’t think that anybody handled the position better than Lawrence Taylor.”
Shane has been playing football since the 4th grade, when he helped his Madison youth team win a state title. Now, Shane is trying to guide Hand to the Class L state championship for the third-straight campaign.
It’s been an emotional season for the Tigers, whose Head Coach Dave Mastroianni, was diagnosed with cancer in October. While it’s a difficult situation for everyone, Shane says that Hand has banded together and maintained its determination to succeed on the field.
“We’ve grown strong through Coach Dave’s situation,” Shane says. “We’ve had other things happen within our football family. It’s drawn us together. We’ve bonded. We’re a strong brotherhood.”
Shane and his teammates are now gearing up for another playoff push. They know they have to play their best in December if they want to bring another state crown back to Madison.
“We’re looking forward to December. That’s when playing your best, mistake-free football is crucial,” says Shane. “You can’t have errors and turnovers in playoff games. A mistake then can end your season.”
Shane also plays for the Hand boys’ lacrosse team during the spring. In terms of college, he’s already committed to continue his football career at Tufts University in Massachusetts. Shane says that he is considering a major in computer science.
“I went there on a visit, and that decided it for me,” Shane says. “They have a very good Division III football program. I’m looking forward to it.”