One season of high school football. That's all Cole Reichert will get. So he wants to make every moment count.
"I have been waiting a long time for this," he said.
Since the fourth grade, Reichert has attended Seffner Christian Academy, where he participated in basketball and other sports. Now, after years of consideration, the school has instituted a football program, which will play its first season as a Class 1B independent.
"It has always been my first love, but there just hasn't been an opportunity here," said Reichert, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior who is primarily a defensive end, but might also play on the offensive line.
"I thought about going to public school for football, maybe to Strawberry Crest, but I decided I'd rather stay here in a Christian environment. It's where I've been for years. It's home. Now there's football, so I get the best of all worlds."
Crusaders coach Steve Lewis, who spent 12 seasons as the coach at Temple Heights, said it was always his dream to start a program from scratch. He's 60 and hopes to coach for another decade.
"Doing something like this is fun in a way, frustrating in a way," said Lewis, who said he's gratified by a roster hovering around 40 players, an outstanding turnout for a first-year program. "But I find it to be more fun than frustrating.
"Everything is new. We're doing everything for the first time. Make no mistake, it's a lot of work. But it's worth it."
Especially for the team's six seniors.
"When we made the announcement that we were going forward with a program, Cole just took off like a rocket ship," Lewis said. "What makes Cole special is his enthusiasm. He goes all out and puts everything into it. He's going to play some on the offensive line, but his personality is not just blocking. His personality is wreaking havoc and getting after people. I think he's going to be quite a force on our defense."
Reichert, who played last season with the Antioch Redskins youth football organization, said he almost wishes it was his freshman season. On the other hand, he's hopeful of gaining experience and attending Liberty University as a walk-on football player.
"The school is going to grow because of this and we're going to grow as a brotherhood," Reichert said. "Football is the best brotherhood sport around. I'll probably remember this year the rest of my life."
STADIUM: Home games played at various schools. Seffner Christian Academy is located at 11605 E. Highway 92.
CLASS-DISTRICT: Class 1B independent
COACH: Lewis (first season; 128-143-6, 29th season overall)
Sept. 3: at Central Florida Christian
Sept. 10: vs. Cambridge Christian (at Armwood)
Sept. 24: vs. Daytona Beach Father Lopez (at Plant City)
Oct. 1: vs. Windermere Prep (at! Strawberry Crest)
Oct. 8: at Foundation Academy
Oct. 15: at Shorecrest Prep
Oct. 22: vs. Mount Dora Bible (at! Armwood)
Oct. 29: vs. Cedar Creek Christian (at Strawberry Crest)
Nov. 5: at Carrollwood Day
No.NamePos.Ht.Wt.Yr.2Alex RubioRB5-8155Fr.3Nick RutsisDL5-6145Fr.4Tyler Bolt RB5-6173Sr.6Seth LewisDL5-10196So.7Tanner RichardsonQB5-9135Jr.9Bradley MoorerQB6-2202Sr.11Ben GonzalezDB5-10145Fr.15Landon AllensworthLB5-10170Jr.21Ben GhalyRB5-9155Jr.22Steven MarshRB5-10160Sr.23Ernest MesaRB5-8160Fr.25Zack SmithRB5-81508th29Austin PaualrinneRB6-1155So.30Marcus RichardsonRB5-71808th31Caleb MooreRB5-10145Fr.33Will GeerRB5-10170Sr.45Richie KennedyDB5-11145Fr.47Evan WestLB5-10175Jr.50Dylan ScaglioneOL5-10180Sr.51Cole ReichertDL6-1215Sr.53Robbie ShellDB5-11160Fr.55Caleb SaundersDL5-6180Fr.56Collin FergusonDL5-9165Sr.57Caleb GudeC5-9195Fr.60Michael BrowningC5-10170Fr.65Cameron ReganOL6-1180So.66J.D. RobertsOL6-2215So.67Angelo PontelloOL5-9170Jr.68Austen JohnigeanOL6-12008th70Ryan BeckerDB5-9145Fr.71Aaron EvansOL6-4241So.72Andre RemyDL5-6175Fr.75Logan HamptonDL5-101908th76Harrison HammontreeDL5-10190Fr.78Patrick DohrenwendDL5-10230Fr.82Alex ChilluraDB5-9145So.88Garrett SaundersTE6-2195Jr.90Wyatt BrownTE 6-0182So.98Tyler CatesOL 6-1191Jr.