The staff at ReitzFootball.com has always enjoyed a good laugh, and for most of the last 12 years, we’ve used April Fools Day to share that with our readers.
The pranks have been somewhat plausible, a little controversial, or just outright silly, but they’ve always been in good fun.
Here is a a breakdown of each April Fools Day joke since we started the tradition in 2003.
2003: ReitzFootball.com is closing and the domain is going to be purchased by MaterDeiFootball.org
This first year’s joke was harmless enough. I was sitting at work one day and thought it might be funny to play a gag on my West Side friends, and came up with the idea that I was shutting down the site and selling it to Jason Black, who runs the Mater Dei football site.
Hello everyone. It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to discontinue the Reitz Football web page.
I have sold the domain name to the individual that runs materdeifootball.org. I’m not sure what he’ll do with the site, but hopefully he’ll continue to run it. Thanks to all who made it the best site in the state.
2005: Unscored upon in 1961 or not?
While no joke was posted in 2004, the tradition was renewed in 2005.
The 1961 Reitz Football team is the stuff of legends. In nine games, they won them all and did not allow a single point. No one has done that since, and many say that team is the greatest in Reitz Football history.
However, recent evidence has come to light regarding this accomplishment. While doing some research on the 1961-62 basketball season, I saw an article from the Mar. 7, 1962 edition of the Evansville Courier:
“Reitz High School, the 1961 Mythical State Football Champions of Indiana, may have to forfeit two of their games from this past fall. The Athletic Manager for Reitz has reported to the IHSAA that the school used an ineligible player.”
The student who caused all this controversy was Abe Brillfuhl. In those days, the IHSAA didn’t let married students participate. However, not knowing the rule and having been married the previous spring, he was a senior who had not played before.
Apparently even the coaches didn’t know he was married.
According to the article, he played in the Sep. 22 game against Mater Dei and the Sep. 30 game against New Albany.
About two months after that article I found an update. In the May 10 edition of the Evansville Press, it was reported that “the IHSAA Board of Appeals has reviewed [the case]. Due to the participation of the ineligible student, F.J. Reitz High shall forfeit games against Mater Dei High School and New Albany High School.”
If that is the case, Reitz finished 7-2 and allowed two points (two 1-0 forfeit losses).
The article went on to say that Reitz would appeal the case, but I couldn’t find anything else on this. Does anyone else remember this?
2006: Vandals strike Reitz Hill
This one, by far, provided my favorite moment when a coach (who will remain anonymous to avoid any further embarrassment) called me in outrage as he drove up to Reitz, just to see the damage for himself. “What a second,” he said as he realized the R was still intact. “Happy April Fools Day!” I exclaimed, to which he replied, “Rudy, I’m going to kill you!”
As most of you have heard by now, vandals have played an awfully unfunny April Fool’s Day prank.
Apparently sometime last night, someone cut the leg off the ‘R’ on Reitz Hill to make it look like a P.
School officials are unsure of who committed the crime, but estimates to restore the ‘R’ to full strength are at around $2500.
However, David Mosby, who runs The Unofficial Heritage Hills Patriot Football Page, sent me an e-mail just a few minutes ago.
From: David Moseby <davidm@——->
To: Dan Engler <email@example.com>Hi Rudy. I heard about what happened to the R up on Reitz Hill. Someone, who asked to remain anonymous, wanted me to send you this picture of what ‘they think of Reitz’. They mentioned something about Reitz being scared to play the Patriots, and they’ve changed the name from Reitz Hill to Heritage Hill.Look…I’m just relaying the message. I’m sorry to see this happen. I know both Reitz and Heritage Hills have great football programs, and this was a stupid prank. All I can say is I’m sorry.Dave
If I hear anything more about this, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.
2007: USI to begin football program
This one I posted while in Alabama, visiting my future wife and her family. I didn’t have much time or internet access, so I had to keep it short and sweet.
The University of Southern Indiana recently announced that it was beginning the process of starting a football program to compete at the Division II level. Rumors have circulated for years in the hopes of this happening, especially since UE dropped their gridiron team.
The Evansville Courier & Press recently broke the news. Check back later today, as we’ll have more information about the Screaming Eagles’ new program, plus speculation on who their first head coach is to be.
2008: Rudy to step down as webmaster for ReitzFootball.com and take over WarrenCentralFootball.com
This was recently after John Hart left Reitz to become the head coach at Warren Central. If you compared closely the Courier & Press’ articles about Coach Hart leaving, you might have noticed I basically replaced John Hart with Rudy and head coach with webmaster.
“Everything’s official,” Rudy said shortly after the school board for the Metropolitan School District of Warren Township affirmed his hiring as the new head webmaster for WarrenCentralFootball.com, effective immediately.
As soon as the proper paperwork is filed, Reitz will begin accepting applications for its vacant webmaster position. It was a post Rudy said was difficult to vacate, but time to move on.
“Personally, this is the single hardest decision I’ve ever made,” Rudy said, telling of a sleepless night he endured while wavering over the move Monday night.
But by Tuesday, when Rudy met with officials from Warren Central, he had the foundation for what he said was a sound professional decision.
“For one, like every competitive person I want to do web design at the highest level,” Rudy said. “They compete nationally. That puts a passion into what you’re doing.”
The Warriors won four consecutive state championships from 2003 through 2006. When that streak ended last season, Bill Banks resigned as head webmaster after two years on the job, creating the opening for Rudy.
With an enrollment nearing 4,000 students, Warren Central is one of the three largest schools in the state and a perennial power at the Class 5A level.
Although the pay increase is minimal, according to Rudy, and was not a deciding factor, the widespread recognition the program has received in recent years – including national rankings – seemingly makes Warren Central a destination job. Rudy said he doesn’t foresee leaving Warren Central, but that he didn’t see himself leaving Reitz, either, where he had been the webmaster since 1996.
“I’ve had thoughts about designing websites for colleges, yes,” Rudy said. “But do I aspire to that? Not really at this point.”
Reitz athletic director Beth Hagan said that the school’s search for a successor won’t be limited to those with previous head webmaster experience or to candidates with Reitz ties. The only directive is to uphold the school’s rich tradition, she said.
“We’re going to look at everyone,” she said. “If you put guidelines on it, you might not end up with anybody that fits within those guidelines who applies.”
2009: Company installing new turf declares bankruptcy…no football in Bowl this year
The 2009 prank provided my least favorite moment in the series and more controversy than all the others put together. Although done for the amusement of friends with no harm intended, it was a poor decision on my part that almost led to legal action and the real-life demise of ReitzFootball.com. The “tough economic times” I made light of in the article would go on to claim my job with TNA Wrestling just a couple months later, and I would again like to apologize for all the chaos that ensued.
The economy has claimed another victim, and this time, it’s hitting too close to home. The company that was scheduled to install synthetic turf at Central Stadium, Enlow Field and Reitz Bowl this spring has announced bankruptcy.
Their website simply states that “due to these tough economic times, we have had to declare bankruptcy. Unfortunately, all current projects are being put on an indefinite hold effective immediately.”
This is a huge setback for Evansville high school football. With all three fields currently being stripped to prepare them for installation of the synthetic turf, it would be financially and logistically impossible to reseed them in time for football season.
With the announcement, EVSC Supervisor of Athletics, Paul Neidig, is in scramble mode. “We have 32 home games scheduled for the 2009 football season, not counting potential postseason games.”
Many long time supporters of Reitz Football are devastated. One fan was heard stating that “this will be the first time in 80 years that football will not be played at the Reitz Bowl.”
School officials are looking into several potential options, including the soccer fields at the Goebel Soccer Complex.
2010: UFO visits Reitz Bowl
After the chaos of 2009, I debated discontinuing the gags. However, I decided to continue and wanted to make sure 2010’s prank was light-hearted and completely implausible (unless you listen to Coast to Coast AM).
Late last night/early this morning, I happened to be driving up by Reitz Hill around 3 a.m. and saw some strange lights. I was wondering if anyone else saw these?
Here is a picture of what I saw:
I drove around to get a closer look:
Then, when I zoomed in, I was in complete shock!
What does this mean? Do the aliens wish to challenge Reitz to a game? Or were they merely passing through on their way to the Delta Quadrant just to see one of the most storied football stadia in the world, let alone the galaxy? I’ll keep everyone updated as more becomes available!
2011: IHSAA announces new football classes; Reitz moves down to Class 3A
People from all over Indiana tend to get F.J. Reitz and Reitz Memorial High Schools mixed up, so I figured why not have a little fun with that?
The IHSAA Executive Committee has approved the recommendations of the realignment committees responsible for placing member schools into sectional groups for football and five other team sports for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 school years.
However, in what comes as a big surprise, Reitz High School will move down to Class 3A in football while Memorial moves up to Class 4A.
“We’re not sure what happened,” according to Tony Lewis, the Panthers’ head coach. “I’ve heard that the good folks at the IHSAA accidentally got us confused with Memorial and switched us. Regardless, all we can do is go out and compete against the teams that are put in front of us. Sectional 24 will be tough, and if we can get through that, teams like Heritage Hills and (Indianapolis) Chatard will be waiting in the wings.”
The IHSAA could not be reached for comment, but sources close to the situation have said that the Executive Committee may have accidentally confused F.J. Reitz and Reitz Memorial High Schools, both named after Francis Joseph Reitz, the man whose generosity helped get both schools started in the 1920s.
“This just further goes to show the disrespect that the folks in Indianapolis have for Southwestern Indiana,” commented an agitated West Sider. “First they try and stop I-69 from happening, and now they don’t even know which Reitz is which!”
Unless a special Executive Committee can meet and alter the published sectional alignments, Reitz will indeed compete in Class 3A for the next two seasons.
2013: Whicker announces fourth book in series
No prank in 2012 as I was in Guyana for a pro wrestling tour, but the shenanigans returned in 2013! This time, I spoofed my good friend Mike Whicker and his wonderful spy series.
Local author Mike Whicker has announced plans for another book in his exciting series that focuses on Nazi-turned heroine Erika Lehmann.
“So this is definitely the last of the Erika Lehmann spy books,” Whicker stated in a November 9, 2012 interview where he talked to the Evansville Courier & Press about the third installment in his trilogy. “Will I write another book? I have no clue. I am not planning anything right now.”
As it turns out, Whicker’s plans have quickly changed.
“One of the things that bothered me, especially with the first book, is that I used a lot of my friends as characters, but I never really featured myself, especially as a lead character,” explained Whicker. “I always wondered, ‘what if I came face to face with Erika?’ With the fourth book, I’m going to tell that story.”
The new book is set in 2000, over 50 years removed from the first novel. Whicker and a group of retired military men have set sail to Greece in order to bring the LST-325 back to Evansville, but, while on the way, they get word that Erika Lehmann is back to her old ways and has kidnapped the World War II-era vessel.
“You’d think that Erika, now in her early 80s, wouldn’t give us too much trouble, but she’s smart and we are all pretty old, too.”
The group, led by Whicker, must track down the LST-325, stop Erika, and bring it back to Evansville. Even former TNA Knockout Traci Brooks makes an appearance as Erika’s granddaughter.
While Whicker is known for his thorough research when preparing to write each book, this one’s even more intense because he lived the trip on the LST from Greece back to Evansville.
“It’s so exciting because I’m the lead character,” Whicker pointed out.
The book, which will be over 1,000 pages long, will be available sometime later this year.
2014: New high school to open on West Side
What could possibly be worse than no football being played at Reitz? Panther fans having to divide their loyalties! This one got some interesting reactions.
The Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation made a surprising announcement at last night’s school board meeting. By a 4-3 vote, the EVSC has decided to add a second high school for the West Side of Evansville.
The new school, to be named Byers High School, will be built on land not yet currently owned by the corporation near USI and will most likely open in the fall of 2016. Construction could start as early as this fall.
“This is a great day for Evansville and the West Side,” according to EVSC attorney Matt Shoulders. “While the West Side didn’t necessarily need another high school, we foresee much growth in this part of town in the next few years. Naming it after one of the West Side’s most loved figures [Herman Byers] was a no-brainer.”
How the new Byers High School will affect F.J. Reitz and the EVSC district boundaries has yet to be discussed, but more importantly, how this will affect Reitz football is very much up in the air.
“This is certainly news to me,” admitted Panther head coach Andy Hape. “Will they play at Reitz Bowl? Should we play them instead of Mater Dei for the Nut Club trophy? Which of our kids will wind up at which school?”
Also there has been a lot of speculation that Tony Lewis, the former Reitz head coach, will return to the West Side to lead Byers.
These are questions that cannot be answered, at least for the time being. All that is known is that things are going to be getting very interesting on the West Side here in the next few years.
2015: Giant R to be removed from Reitz Bowl for some games
My good friend Larry Ellington (of Ellington Solutions) gave me the idea for this one a few years ago.
Reitz High School recently signed a deal allowing schools and organizations that rent Reitz Bowl to have their respective logo appear in the middle of the field.
A new technology has been developed by Ellington Solutions that allows staff to simply unzip the logo on the 50-yard line and replace it with another.
Mike Fetscher was able to use his helicopter camera to capture this image of how Reitz Bowl looks with the Mater Dei logo.
Not everyone is happy about the decision.
“Forget about having the Mater Dei logo stamped on the field,” opined Reitz head football coach Andy Hape. “We are concerned that a player may accidentally trip on the zipper.”
“However,” according to an anonymous source with the school, “that probably wouldn’t happen too often.”