Jerry Jensen is familiar with the Gordons.
The Archbishop Murphy football coach worked with one, 2011 graduate Randy Gordon, when he was an assistant with the Wildcats in 2009.
Now, in his second season as the head coach at Murphy, Jensen said he is blessed to have another Gordon on his squad: Reagan Gordon, a running back and strong safety.
In between Randy and Reagan, Ricky Gordon — Class of 2013 — helped the Wildcats to deep runs in the Class 2A state playoffs.
Now, Reagan Gordon hopes to help get Archbishop Murphy, which went 3-6 last season, back to the level of prominence it enjoyed when his brothers played.
“I have a really good feeling about this year,” Reagan Gordon said. “For a little bit, things were kind of rocky. But with coach Jensen and all the new coaches coming in, I think we’ll turn the program around and do really well.”
Reagan Gordon grew up playing football in the street with his older brothers, who taught him the fundamentals, as well as a few tricks.
“They’d be telling me better ways to run, to make better cuts and teaching me how to do the stuff,” Reagan Gordon said. “Just giving me advice and encouragement, saying, ‘Run harder’ and stuff like that.”
Reagan Gordon stands just 5-foot-7.
“Reagan is tiny. He’s easy to overlook but Reagan is the toughest kid that we have on our team,” Jensen said. “His older brother Randy was a tough, tough kid and Randy told me Reagan’s even tougher than he is. He’s just a kid that’s going to give you his all. He’s going to do it right and he’s going to do it well. If we had 11 Reagan Gordons out there, that’d be just fine with me.”
“He’s a little guy,” Randy Gordon said of his younger brother. “He’s got incredible strength for his size. He’s got speed, agility and desire to win. He’s a hard worker. I think that kind of runs in the family. I don’t think we were necessarily all very gifted. I think it was our work ethic that got us to where we are. And the same goes for Reagan.”
Jensen said Reagan Gordon witnessed one of the high points of the Murphy football program, which reached four consecutive state championship games from 2008-11, and will do whatever he can to help the Wildcats get back.
“He knows the tradition and what to expect here,” Jensen said. “More than that, he lives it. It’s easy to talk about it, but he takes pride in it and wants to continue that. He has a connection to the past. He’s seen Murphy at its height and wants to help get it back there.”
That tradition has put a small burden on the younger Gordon.
“There’s that pressure that you have to be good,” Reagan Gordon said, “because your brothers were good.”
Reagan Gordon was a sophomore when the Wildcats had four head coaches in a span of one year. He said Jensen has brought stability to the program since he was hired in January 2013.
“I think that’s a big thing for us,” Reagan Gordon said. “We had three different coaches (before Jensen). I think it was just rough for the players to get used to three different coaching styles. That’s why I think we had a hard time last year.”
Now the Wildcats and their coach are on the same page. And they’re hoping for a storybook ending.
“I think everybody wants to win the state championship but if we don’t, we don’t,” Gordon said. “I just want to go out, have fun, play my hardest and just enjoy my season. It’s my last year of football.”
The Gordon brothers hope one of them can capture that elusive state championship.
“My brother and I both had the chance. It’d be nice if one of us could actually win it,” Ricky Gordon said. “Hopefully he goes to state and finally brings home the ring.”