It was the challenge of AAAAA football and job security that lured Rick Reetz from Porter-Gaud.
Reetz, 60, has agreed to become of the offensive coordinator at James Island Charter High School, ending his 10-year tenure as head coach of the Cyclones.
“I think part of coaching is always reaching for that next challenge,” Reetz said. “I’ve always been interested in coaching at the highest level of football in this area. When given the opportunity, I couldn’t pass it up.”
Reetz went 71-47, leading Porter-Gaud to two state championship games over the past decade. Eight of his players have landed opportunities to play college football over the past three years.
He's widely regarded as one of the better offensive minds in the state, orchestrating an unit that's averaged 31 points per game the past 10 years. He led Porter-Gaud to the state championship game with an offense that rewrote the school record books with nearly 6,000 total yards and more than 500 points scored in his second year in 2010. The Cyclones returned to the state title game in 2016, averaging 35 points per game. Porter-Gaud threw for 229 yards per game last season, led by rising senior quarterback Gunnar Nistad, a first-year transfer from James Island.
Reetz is inheriting a James Island offense that's totaled 18 points per game over the past three seasons and is graduating its starting quarterback. Nistad will follow Reetz back to James Island for his senior season, saying the opportunity to play for both Reetz and Trojans head coach Ike Allred at the same time “was something I couldn’t pass up.”
"When you have a chance to add someone with head coaching experience, that's been in this area for 10-plus years, that can only be positive. Then you consider the way he's been able to sustain success at Porter-Gaud for this long, it speaks volumes of the type of coach he is," Allred said. "This will be his offense. He'll run the show, his system. It's more than just a scheme. It's the nuances within his offense and the way he teaches it and coaches it. I love what he does offensively, the controlled passing game. We both want to throw it until the cows come home."
There was some uncertainty of Reetz’s future at Porter-Gaud at the end of the last season. The Cyclones went 9-3 losing only to First Baptist and Hammond, who eventually played each other for the SCISA AAA state championship. Reetz wasn’t immediately offered a contract extension though, which led Porter-Gaud football players in February to orchestrate a petition in their coach's favor.
“Coach Reetz and his staff have taught us numerous lessons on football, work ethic, and life,” the petition read. “Rick Reetz cares more about his players than any coach I have ever had.”
Reetz was offered a one-year extension less than a week after the students' petition was delivered to the school, although with no further guarantee moving forward. Decisions to extend or terminate coaches are handled by the school’s board.
“I have been very, very happy with the direction of the football program over the past 10 years,” Porter-Gaud athletics director Larry Salley said. “We’ve been very successful on the field and we look forward to finding the right candidate to continue that success.”
Reetz bid farewell to his team on Saturday, saying "I know God has great plans for us all. I am thankful for the opportunity to coach the finest young men a coach could ever ask for."
James Island is aligned in Class AAAAA, the largest division of the S.C. High School League, which includes mostly public schools. Porter-Gaud competes in Class AAA of the S.C. Independent School Association, comprised of only private schools. Before arriving to Porter-Gaud, Reetz spent two decades coaching football in Rhode Island, winning two state titles at public Cumberland and one at private Morris Brown.
"I pride myself in adapting our offense to the talent we have and the athletes we have," Reetz said. "We evolve depending on our strengths. James Island should expect to see an aggressive, well-prepared, disciplined offense. We're going to have some fun."
Porter-Gaud junior varsity coach Al Wilson will serve as interim varsity coach this summer until the vacancy is filled. The school expects to hire a new coach before the fall season.