It was a forgivable error, but it came at the wrong time for junior Reece Iler. The football preview edition of the Sporting Times misidentified Central Hardin’s quarterback as Robert Shorter. To make matters worse, Cleveland wasn’t a player on the Bruin roster instead he was a John Hardin running back. “It’s something I’m use to. My name is Reece, but my first name is actually Joseph and a lot of people know me by that name too. I guess as long as my picture was out there. It was kind of funny.” For the guy who was about to replace Koree Krupinski, who had a great three-year run at the position it was a heck of a way to begin the Reece Iler era.
The junior had played some varsity the previous season, but at other positions. The multi-talented Iler could do a lot of things and do them well and now as the starting quarterback at a team which had won 22-games in the last two seasons, expectations in the Tim Mattingly offense had to be high. Did the junior feel pressure walking into this situation? “It was a lot of pressure stepping into that role. I really hadn’t played a lot of varsity, but just working behind him because he was such a hard worker and such a great athlete and leader and learning from him so that when next season rolled around I just stepped right into the role.” Iler admitted that Krupinski tutored him some during his time there in preparation for the following season, but most importantly coach Tim Mattingly’s forte going back to his days at Meade County as an assistant coach there is defense and for the offense to help produce points for victory. Iler, much like his predecessor Krupinski is very nimble of foot and his running ability came in handy in many situations last season. “ We had plenty of QB runs set up including some read options too and half the time it might be a pass play which I might have the option to scramble out of there or a lot of options for me to get out of the pocket.” Iler was effective enough to pass for 1,200-yards and 13-touchdowns and ran for 347-yards. Iler is no stranger to playing both ways.
He actually played on the defensive side for a full game last year and was a starter on defense in his sophomore year until he dislocated his elbow in a JV game and came back to finish out the season on the defensive side. Still, the Bruins had a pretty successful season finishing the regular season with a 7-3 record and made their deepest run in the playoffs which was highlighted with a 10-7 win on the road against powerful McCracken County which set up a Final Four match against Male for a state tournament title game in Class 6-A. “When the season started last year, all the guys who played since we were young together our main goal was that this school has never had a region title and we got there the year before and ended up losing.
Before that, it was a District Championship and now we were just working our way up and get a little farther. When you have the opportunity to win the school’s first Region Championship in football obviously it’s big, but we were really focused in during at that game and we really stuck it out.” The 10-7 win gave Central Hardin their first Region Title and the quarterback, who was misidentified at the beginning of the season had played in one of the most important games of the school’s history. Iler was 3-for-7 for only 12-yards and ran for 22 more, but he didn’t make the big game-killing mistake. “It was kind of like a dream in a way. I had a lot of confidence going in, but I felt so happy for all the guys that night for coming out with a win and it’s something I’ll always remember.” Coming into the new season, which was his senior year expectations are very high and Iler would love to go out the same way as last. When the Bruins started 3-0 an injury to a running back, Iler was asked to play at the wing against Paducah Tilghman while Jay Hobbs was at the quarterback position. “It was something we had practiced all summer. I played some at the wing against Mercer County and the entire game against Tilghman, so I was prepared.” Iler has also been on the defensive side as well as the team just kept rolling.
When the Bruins hit a surprising 3-game losing streak, the team rebounded winning 5-straight and scoring 47, 27, 40, 51 and 50-points as Central Hardin advanced behind Iler’s leadership. Although he did switch out with Hobbs under center, Iler still completed 17-passes for 230-yards and ran for 833-yards and 14-TDs. On defense, he was in on 42-tackles and intercepted three passes. The season came to an end against Ballard in the playoffs as Iler suffered a shoulder injury in the second half and didn’t return as Central Hardin finally fell in overtime. Still, it was a great season as the Bruins continued on their path of success under the senior quarterback. Iler would also like to play at the next level if possible and after the season, he’ll weigh his options. Now that Central Hardin has become a launching pad for great quarterbacks, Iler has some advice for the next great Bruin signal caller that passes through. “Just to stay focused on the offense. This offense is not set up for the quarterback to get all the glory to throw the ball thirty times a game. The things you do like carry out your fakes, make good reads. Just do everything right and it will make the offense ten times better.”