Coach Lance Reese, who tied the record for all-time wins at Guntersville High Friday night with 100, has a long, long history with the sport of football.
He stated playing peewee football as a second grader in 1976. He hasn’t missed a season of playing or coaching since then.
He graduated from Cullman High in 1987, where he played under Coach Dale Cook. They went undefeated in the regular season his junior year and made a playoff run.
“I went to church with the Cullman Junior High coach, Danny Miller,” Coach Reese said. “I helped him during spring training. He told me if continued to coach junior high, the Quarterback Club would pay my tuition. So I coached junior high all 4 years I was in college.”
He started out at Wallace State, then transferred to Athens State. In those days, Guntersville and Cullman played pretty regularly.
“Guntersville had always seemed like a special place,” Coach Reese said. “Bucky Pitts had retired and Phil Lazenby was coming in. There was a job opening and Coach Lazenby hired me.”
Without that junior high experience at Cullman, Coach Reese doubts he would've been hired then.
That was in 1991. Coach Reese coached the Guntersville junior high for one year, then went to the varsity.
Under Coach Lazenby, he became the defensive coordinator and Coach Isom was the offensive coordinator.
“It was a great staff and a good experience,” Coach Reese said.
He would retain the defensive coordinator title as Coach Isom took the reigns as head coach and the team won the 2006 4A state championship.
“Without the success we had under Coach Isom, I don’t know that I would have gotten the opportunity to have the head coaching job at Guntersville,” Coach Reese said. “I was an assistant coach and had never been a head coach. But being part of that success aided me in getting this job.”
He said Guntersville’s philosophy about football really hasn’t changed since the days of Coach Lazenby and Coach Isom.
“The schemes change, but what it takes to win remains the same,” Coach Reese said.
He said every year brings a new group of players and new challenges.
“You have to change what you do based on the talents of your team,” Coach Reese said. “It continues to be a challenge and it is a lot of fun. I give a lot of credit to my staff. People don’t know what all goes into getting a team ready and the assistant coaches work hard.”
Coach Reese is only 53 and he still very much enjoys what he does.
Retirement is not something he even thinks about.
“What would I do with myself?” he asked. “I don’t want to stay so long that I just run the program in the ground, but I am still having fun.”
He never got the chance to talk to Coach Chorba, the man whose record he tied. But he did talk with Coach Percy Lee, Coach Chorba’s right-hand man.
“I heard some of his stories and I feel fortunate I was able to do that,” Coach Reese said.
While Coach Reese might have gotten his start in Cullman, he is Guntersville through-and-through now.
“People ask where I am from and I grew up at Cullman,” he said. “But I have been in Guntersville for 32 years. My wife teaches at Guntersville. My daughter Laine is a teacher at Cherokee now and her husband is an assistant coach on the football team. I would say I’m from Guntersville now.
“I feel blessed to be the football coach at Guntersville High,” he continued. “Guntersville has been good to me.”