Reitz Panthers prepare for the 2021-22 football season

Head Coach Cory Brunson returns for his second season
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 11:15 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Countdown to football continues, and for the Reitz Panthers, good things are on the horizon.

“Night and day where we’re at now compared to last year,” Reitz head coach Cory Brunson said. “I feel like we’ve definitely improved in our strength just in general. Overall, player numbers have grown.”

Brunson enters his second season as head coach of his alma mater.

Last season, the Panthers ended with a 4-7 record, so Brunson has high expectations for what’s to come.

“Here, expectations are always high,” Brunson said. “Growing up here, I knew that as a player. Obviously, as an assistant coach and coach, you know, we’re here to win every game, and that’s the expectations here. It’s no different now.”

Although losing key players from last season, Brunson is confident with his current group, which includes well-rounded senior running back Jay Smith.

“He definitely is the guy that we’re expecting big things from,” Brunson said. “Little bit of everywhere, a lot of running back, receiver. He played a little defense last year, may play some defense this year. He may not come off the field very much, he does a very good job.”

Most of the offensive line has returned, but the defense is young.

Regardless, Smith said he believes this team’s bond already shows promise.

“We didn’t have the best season the last two years, and we are really hoping to turn that around,” Smith said. “I see a lot of people motivated to change Reitz football back to the way we know it is. I see older classmen showing the younger classmen we need more people to step up and fill those shoes of the seniors that left last year, so I feel like the team is a lot more bonded.”

Even though youth could be a weakness, Smith doesn’t see it being an issue for his team.

“We’re an explosive team,” Smith said. “I think offensively and defensively we are fast-paced. We have a lot of playmakers this year on offense and a lot of skill guys on defense. So, I think we’re going to have some big playmakers this year on both sides of the ball.”

Week 1 for the Panthers will be a rematch game at Harrison on August 20.

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