The passes found their way to Dennis Smith, a standout football player at Santa Monica High School some four decades ago. They landed in Smith’s hands as he earned CIF co-player of the year honors in 1976, giving him the foundation to continue his career at USC and eventually play in three Super Bowls.
The balls were thrown by Kevin Wayne “Mojo” Reynolds, the Samohi quarterback for much of Smith’s high school career.
Reynolds, known as a leader of the Vikings during their successful seasons under then-coach Tebb Kusserow, passed away last month from complications due to surgery. He was 55.
A viewing was held at New Bethel Baptist Church in Venice on March 11. Hundreds of friends, family and community members attended funeral services March 12 at Calvary Baptist Church in Santa Monica.
Reynolds was “one of the most intense players in Samohi history and the true catalyst of all that was good on the 1976 team that is probably the best never to win a CIF championship,” Kusserow said.
In a statement after Reynolds’ death, current Vikings coach Ramsey Lambert said the school football community was saddened by the loss of a former star.
“We pray that Kevin’s family and friends are able to embrace the time spent with him to help ease the sorrow,” Lambert said in the statement. “We hope you can draw some comfort in knowing that so many people care and share your loss.”
Samohi Alumni Association president Phil Brock said Reynolds will be missed beyond the school’s football community and offered condolences to his family.
“He was a natural athlete and a fine young man,” Brock said. “Even at 12 years old, with a ready smile, he was a leader.”
Born March 18, 1960, Reynolds was a three-year starting quarterback at Samohi and an all-CIF honoree in 1976 and 1977. He was invited to play in the Shrine all-star game in 1978.
His passes often sailed into the arms of Smith and Stanley Younger, who also received all-CIF recognition. He was teammates and close friends with Samohi alumnus Raymond Cooper, a longtime security officer on campus. Reynolds had worked as a security officer at USC.
Reynolds was married for 21 years to Jeanie Reynolds, who runs the Venice Vintage Paradise shop on Abbot Kinney Boulevard and the Vintage Link store on Lincoln Boulevard. Friends and family members flooded her Facebook page with messages of love and support.
Reynolds was preceded in death by his mother, Mildred Cursh, a well-known community activist in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice. Reynolds’ sister, Antoinette Reynolds, now serves as the executive director of the Venice-based Mildred Cursh Foundation, which supports children with incarcerated parents through a variety of programs and mentoring services.
Reynolds is also survived by his son, Devin, and daughter, Kelsey, both of whom have studied at Tulane University in New Orleans.
“It always felt like an entire army couldn’t bring you down,” his son wrote on Facebook.