Centennial football star Brian Reid is "just glad to be home again" with his family in Ellicott City after an 11-day stay at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Reid, 17, is recovering from injuries suffered in an Oct. 19 automobile accident that nearly claimed his life.

Within a mile of his house, Reid's auto was struck head-on by a car driven by friend and fellow Centennial senior David Porter. Porter suffered a broken collarbone; one of his two passengers incurred a broken leg. Reid was transported to Shock Trauma in Baltimore, where he underwent four hours of surgery for a damaged spleen, ripped intestine and a deep cut over his right eye. Paramedics told his mother the thickness of his varsity football jacket may have prevented the impact of the steering wheel from doing even more damage.

The accident put an end to Reid's 1990 season, a time in which he had hoped to establish himself as the area's premier kicking specialist. To his teammates, however, he has nothing more to prove.

This season Reid's field goals brought victories over North Carroll (17-14) and Howard (10-7) while his long kickoffs often stunted opponents' offensive drives before they had a chance to begin.

"Our offense hasn't done that well, but our defense has been solid the last couple of years," said Reid. "I can help our team by pinning them deep in their end and then our defense can take over and hold 'em."

Reid averaged 39 yards per punt this year but is more pleased with his accurate placement and precise form. Seven of his 22 punts landed inside the opponent's 20-yard line; four were downed at the 1.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound senior, who attracted the interest of Florida State and Villanova, balks when people say kickers are less important than other players.

"You have to hit the ball perfectly," he said. "You only get one shot . . . At other positions, you get a second chance."

Villanova recruiter David White, who could not comment on Reid's performance because of NCAA recruiting regulations, said "the kicking game is extremely important. Most people would put that area first. Then you want to work on building up your defense and, lastly, the offense."

"A lot of people have a strong foot," White said, but he looks for "consistency and placement. The bottom line is the ability to do it in a game situation."

Reid's absence was felt by the Eagles (4-4), who failed to convert any extra points in a 20-18 loss to Glenelg the day after his accident.

"I wish I could have been there to save their butts one more time," said Reid, who made 21 of 23 extra-point tries in his three-year career, eight straight this year.

"If Brian's there, we win the football game," said first-year Centennial coach Ed Holshue.

The accident "affected us a lot," said Holshue. "It just blows your concentration . . . and we made a lot of mental mistakes.

"Our punting game was atrocious and our kickoff game suffered because of short kicks and easy returns. {Glenelg} got the ball at midfield every time . . . it all adds up."

Reid's doctors say he'll be fine and, after some physical therapy, back to sports as early as January. He was Centennial's starting basketball center last season, but is unsure if he will play this season.

"Right now," Reid said, I have to be concerned about my health and I have to start preparing for next year, which is my real dream, to play college football."

Reid wants to pursue Native American studies and sports medicine and might be in a Villanova Wildcats uniform next year. The Reid family is originally from the Philadelphia area. Jake Nevin, Villanova's revered trainer who died in 1985, was Brian's great-uncle.