By Rob Potter
MONTICELLO For the past four years, Sean Reuss has been a Panther when competing on the football field.
Starting this autumn, Reuss will be a Black Bear.
On Friday afternoon, Reuss, a 17-year-old senior at Monticello High School, signed a National Letter of Intent to play football for the University of Maine, an NCAA Division I school. Surrounded by several family members and friends, including his parents Ronald and Debra, sister Chelsea as well as Monticello Athletic Director Doug Murphy and Monticello football Coach Matt Buddenhagen, Reuss officially put pen to paper.
Reuss will receive a full athletic scholarship to attend Maine and play for the Black Bears football team. Maine, which was ranked eighth in the nation last season, is a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) team and a member of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Other CAA teams include Delaware, New Hampshire, Old Dominion and Villanova.
“This is a wonderful day in Monticello athletics history,” Murphy said.
Reuss is very happy to be continuing his football career in college. He noted that Maine was one of four schools which was interested in him. The others included the University of Massachusetts, the University of New Hampshire and the University of New Haven.
“I liked the coaches when I visited Maine,” Reuss said. “I liked the players I met there. The campus is nice. It felt like a family there. I liked everything about it.”
Reuss, who is also a member of the Panthers’ varsity boys’ basketball and baseball teams, began his football career by playing in the Monticello Area Football and Cheerleading Organization (MAFCO) for one season. After playing soccer during seventh grade and eighth grade, Reuss moved back to the gridiron when Monticello started a football program for the first time in 75 years.
He played on the junior varsity team as a ninth-grader and again as a 10th-grader. When the Panthers moved up to the varsity level, he was a key member of the team during the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
For both of those seasons, Reuss played tight end and defensive end. Last fall, he led the Panthers’ defense with 77 tackles, 25 of which were solo as well as a team-high six quarterback sacks. He was named to the Democrat’s All-Star team. On offense, he caught 12 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns.
“[Maine] offensive line Coach Frank Giufre recruited me and he said he didn’t want to give my films to the defensive coaches,” Reuss said. “He wants to keep me on offense.”
At this point, Reuss is not sure where he will line up for the Black Bears.
“I’ll play wherever they want me to,” he said with a smile.
Ronald Reuss is “very excited” that his son will be playing football at Maine.
“Sean worked really hard for this,” Ronald said.
Ronald noted that in addition to visiting Maine a couple of times, Sean visited UMass three times and New Hampshire three times.
“We had a great time visiting Maine,” Ronald commented. “We met five or six of the football players and they are great kids. Everyone was very nice. And Sean’s host, a player who will be a senior tight end next season, was great.”
Ronald believes that Sean will be penciled in as a tight end on the Black Bears’ depth chart for the 2012 season.
“I think the coaches are going to have him at tight end for the first season,” Ronald said. “He’s very good at catching passes and making blocks. But I also like to see him playing defense and going after the quarterback.”
Buddenhagen noted that Sean Reuss has made a lot of progress as a football player over the past four years.
“When he first started, Sean was 6 feet tall and weighed 195 pounds,” Buddenhagen said. “Now, he’s 6-3 and 230 pounds and he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds.
“I told Sean years ago that he and teammates like Anthony Gray and Shane Jackson had a chance to play at the next level,” Buddenhagen continued. “Sean had to use his talent and skills and continue to work hard. He has done that and now he has the opportunity to play college football for free and here I am still paying off student loans.”
In addition to improving on the football field over the years, Reuss has also done better in the classroom. After earning average grades as a sophomore and junior, Reuss has a 90-plus average this year. He plans to major in Kinesiology or Athletic Training at Maine.
Reuss has some fond memories of his days as a Monticello football player.
“We made it to sectionals in our first two years back as a varsity team and that was really great,” he said.
While Reuss has certainly worked hard on the field, in the weight room and in the classroom, he is grateful to those who have helped him achieve his goals.
“I thank Coach Buddenhagen for everything he has done,” Reuss said. “He has really helped me a lot. And I have received a lot of support from my family and friends. It’s a great feeling to have their support and be able to play college football.”
Location: Orono, Maine
Colonial Athletic Association
Head coach: Jack Cosgrove
Stadium: Alfond Stadium (10,000); FieldTurf
2011 record: 9-4 (lost in FCS quarterfinals)
2011 Offense: 355 yds/game
NFL alumni: Lofa Tatupu, Mike Flynn, Stephen Cooper, Justin Strzelczyk, Phil McGeoghan, Montell Owens, Mike Buck, Daren Stone, Matthew Mulligan, Mike DeVito, Brandon McGowen, Jovan Belcher
Coach alumni: Kirk Ferentz, current Iowa head coach.