A familiar face has taken the helm of Pitman High School’s varsity football team as the program’s fifth head coach in its 19-year history following the resignation of Lance Weckerle last month.
Athletic Director Dave Walls announced on Wednesday that longtime Pride coach Eric Reza was selected to lead the varsity team this fall. Reza has over 30 years of coaching experience at the Pop Warner, freshman and junior varsity levels, however, his new position is his first varsity appointment.
“We’re really excited as coach Reza takes over the leadership of Pitman football,” Walls said, noting that Reza is one of the most respected teachers and coaches on the Pitman campus. “...Eric will focus on the continued growth and development of the tradition-rich program here at Pitman.”
Reza’s newfound leadership role comes after former head coach Weckerle stepped down from the program in May after two seasons. Weckerle was 4-11 overall as the Pride’s head coach and was appointed in 2019 following the departure of Tom Tyler.
Wecklerle said it was a difficult decision to walk away from the head coaching position.
“I had a vision for the Pitman football program and I didn’t feel at this time we were going to be able to work towards making that vision become a reality. So, I felt it would be in everyone’s best interest to step aside and allow someone else to try and create their own vision for the program,” he said. “I was blessed to coach so many fine young men that played the game with passion. I look forward to continuing to coach the local youth in flag football and other youth sports. Roll Pride!”
Reza, a social studies teacher, coached at both Patterson and Turlock high schools before arriving at Pitman in 2004. He has coached both freshman and junior varsity for the Pride and is looking forward to the faster pace of varsity play.
The team began practicing for the 2021-2022 season on June 1, he said, with the goal of recruiting enough players to the football program to create competition for each position in the next few years.
“When you have more guys, you have more competition at practice. By competing at practice, that’s where we’ll have more success and that will translate into the games,” Reza said.
There’s a lot of adjusting to do following the COVID season, Reza added, and the new head coach hopes to help players get back to normal while preparing them for both the rigors of adulthood — and the return of a full football season.
“I’m not changing a bunch of stuff; we’re going to keep going forward and if we need to make tweaks here and there, then we’ll do that. I want to make a difference not only on the field but in the classroom. One of my goals is to prepare, especially the seniors, to go onto their adulthood and be productive citizens,” Reza said. “We’d like to win, we’d like to compete again and get to the playoffs, but my main goal is to get these guys back into the swing of things.”