NORTH AUGUSTA — Trib Reece is the center of attention.

• He’s the starting quarterback for North Augusta High School, one of the most successful football programs in the area and in all of South Carolina.

• He’s going into his senior year, his third as the Yellow Jackets’ starter, coming off a year when he led all area passers in every important statistical category – including wins.

• He’s one of the most recruited players in the area and has already received a scholarship offer.

• He’ll play his final season in high school under the guidance of a new head coach and will have to be a leader for a large number of players looking to make an impact for North Augusta.

For all of these reasons, Reece was voted the No. 1 player to watch this season in The Standard 10.

“I feel like I did well last year,” Reece said of the 2013 season, when he completed 227 of 330 passes for 3,083 yards and 38 touchdowns – all area bests. He was honored for those accolades, being named All-Region, All-State and to the All-Aiken Standard first team.

Reece didn’t just lead the Aiken area passers, he dominated statistically. He surpassed his closest competitor by more than 1,000 yards and nearly 20 touchdowns passing. And it wasn’t because North Augusta ran a pass-happy scheme on offense. The Yellow Jackets were really more of a run-first team, with their top rushers combining for about 400 carries, which gained more than 2,000 yards.

It was Reece’s ability to execute the offense and perform his duties as the Yellow Jackets’ triggerman at an extremely high level that produced the dazzling numbers. They were also critical to North Augusta’s 12-2 record and berth in the state semifinals.

The 6-foot-4, 180-pound passer has the ability to go deep, but an easy throwing motion that makes it look like he can simply flick the ball 30 or 40 yards. That also helps him get rid of the ball in a moment and not put himself or his team in jeopardy with a long windup.

Reece’s big arm is complemented by his ability to hit his targets.

Last season, Reece completed 69 percent of his passes and had just eight intercepted. He also has a firm understanding of the offense and can execute on the fly. He’s well rounded, with a good football IQ to make his physical tools even better. He’ll make savvy progressions with his reads and not just lock on a receiver or two.

“He’s extremely accurate; that’s what impressed me the most,” said Midland Valley head coach Rick Knight, whose Mustang teams are 0-2 in games against North Augusta when Reece plays quarterback. “He’s lit us up.”

South Aiken head coach Jeremy West is also winless in two tries in games against Reece. His sentiments about Reece echoed Knight’s.

“He’s a competitor, extremely accurate and a good quarterback,” said West, whose Thoroughbreds will close the regular season against Reece and the Yellow Jackets. “He gets rid of the ball real quick, quick release. He’s a good leader and he has showed he can run too. He’s a good all-around athlete.”

While not called on to carry the ball a great deal, Reece is agile. Also a highly-touted baseball player, Reece is listed as a dual-threat quarterback by ESPN’s recruiting website. He even had a 96-yard touchdown run last season. Reece even served as North Augusta’s punter and had one of the best net averages in the area.

But the main reason colleges are showing interest in Reece is because of what he can do with his arm. Reece said he’s had contact with North Carolina State, Mercer, Furman, Georgia Southern and Coastal Carolina among other colleges during the recruiting process. He’s already received an offer from Limestone.

“I’m not worried about recruiting,” Reece said, brushing off the idea that there’s any rush to make a decision or that he’ll feel any pressure during the season to win over potential colleges. “It could be a late offer before I get the right offer.”

His focus is on serving as a strong leader for his teammates. By virtue of his position, Reece is automatically a leader. But he’s been able to let others vocalize what needs to be done, or pull at emotional strings the past two seasons as North Augusta had a strong core of veteran players. That was the case when he became the full-time starting quarterback early in his sophomore season and was also true last year.

But this season, the Yellow Jackets only have five starters returning – combined on both sides of the ball. That, along with a new head coach, makes the team even more reliant upon the senior signal caller. It’s a responsibility Reece welcomes.

“I’ve got to make sure to lead by example. We’ve got to be patient. Everything will come together, we just have to know we’re playing for North Augusta,” said Reece, who explained the responsibility he feels to live up to a high standard of success. “It means a whole bunch, and we’re one of the best teams, year in and year out. I want to live up to that.”

Brian Thomas, North Augusta’s new head coach, is counting on that.

“Having a quarterback in place is a big piece of the puzzle. You’ve got stability,” said Thomas, who retained Craig Gilstrap as the offensive coordinator and is looking for continuity when Reece is on the field. “As long as he’s comfortable with things, we’ll be that much better. … I expect leadership. His time is now to step up and get kids to do the little things to make the team better.”

Many of the players Thomas is counting on Reece to positively influence are those in the skill positions. The Yellow Jackets have almost entirely new players stepping in as running backs and receivers, so it will be up to the veteran QB to get them all on the same page and execute the no-huddle, tempo-controlling scheme.

They’ve worked hard in the summer at passing camps. Reece said in spite of some growing pains, a lot of progress has been made. He’s also taken the initiative to organize less formal passing sessions, so he can build chemistry and continuity with his pass catchers.

Reece said he has a lot of confidence in the newcomers. He’s looking forward to even more intense work with the start of practice on Friday. Beyond that, his goals for this season are fairly simple.

“I want to make it a fun senior year, the best year for a lot of people,” Reece said. “It’s my senior year, I’m going to do everything I can to win.”

Noah Feit is the sports editor for the Aiken Standard and has been a professional journalist for more than 15 years after graduating from Syracuse University.

This story is the 10th part in a series highlighting The Standard 10, the top 10 Players to Watch in the Aiken area for the rapidly approaching high school football season.

• July 21 — No. 10 DeAngilo Drayton, SB

• July 22 — No. 9 Dalton Swires, FC

• July 23 — No. 8 Tyree Stidem, ST

• July 24 — No. 7 Rashad Byrd, NA

• July 25 — No. 6 Malik Lee, SA

• July 26 — No. 5 Chad Gilchrist, ST

• July 27 — No. 4 Kameron Brown, MV

• July 28 — No. 3 Daniel Carr, MV

• July 29 — No. 2 Rasool Clemons, SA

• Today — No. 1 Trib Reece, NA

The order was determined by Aiken Standard sports editor Noah Feit, staff writers Jeremy Timmerman and Eric Russell, North Augusta Star news editor Scott Rodgers and staff writer T.J. Lundeen, as well as ASTV broadcasters Ed Girardeau and Ken Brace.