Driven to win: Reese the guiding force in Venom’s success

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

When asked about who is one of the most recognized faces on the Amarillo professional sports scene, most will point in the direction of Amarillo Venom head coach Julian Reese.

First arriving in Amarillo as the quarterback of the upstart Dusters of the Intense Football League in 2004, Reese has played a major part in indoor football’s success in the Texas Panhandle either as a quarterback or as head coach.

Since taking over coaching duties at the tail end of the 2011 season, Reese has accumulated a 43-26 record, four postseason appearances, secured winning seasons four out of five seasons, and has claimed two championships.

Reese will attempt to acquire his third championship Monday night when the Venom travel to Wichita, Kan., for the the Champions Indoor Football league title game.

The Venom earned the title berth with last week’s victory over the top-seeded Texas Revolution. But there was a slight bump in the road in preparing for the 7:05 p.m. championship game in Intrust Bank Arena.

On Tuesday, Reese underwent an emergency appendectomy at BSA Hospital.

However, by Wednesday, Reese was released and was back overseeing practice.

“I’m feeling a lot better, and I’m very thankful that the game is on Monday,” Reese said. “I’m a little sore, but I’m ready for the championship on Monday.”

Despite having the obvious drive to haul in another title for Amarillo, there lies much more to Reese than meets the eye, according to fellow coaches and those who play for him.

For instance, there is wide receiver/defensive backs coach Donta Bright. Bright, a veteran of the indoor game, has played with and against Reese.

“Julian is a good guy,” Bright said. “When I first met him, he was really passionate about the game. He was always on time, always the last person off of the field. He’s dedicated to what he does and he knows what he’s doing. I think that’s what grew on me when we played together and rubbed off on me.

“It was the way he studied and showed me how to study a little bit. That’s what helped me, and I’m trying to pass it on to the younger guys.”

Two of those younger guys are defensive back Percy Turner and linebacker Kendrick Causey.

“When Kendrick and I came here as rookies last season, Reese and (Venom defensive coordinator) Dannie Snyder took the time out to teach us the game,” said Turner, who spent time earlier this year as a member of American Indoor Football’s New Mexico Stars. “We got better every day. I can remember the first game was in Dodge City, and we didn’t know any indoor football rules. Coach Reese said, ‘just play football and I’ll correct you as you go.’”

Turner said he has continuously improved, and after the season-ending loss to Sioux City last year, he is determined to help Reese and his Venom teammates take home a championship.

Causey, who played alongside Turner in New Mexico and Amarillo, echoed Turner’s words in how Reese has instilled that hunger to win from within.

“We’re pretty much on the same page right now concerning that hunger stage,” Causey said. “I’ve never been to a championship before. This is my first championship appearance, so I’m hungry, and I want it really bad.”

Lastly, Reese has used his experience from his past title wins in 2004, 2012 and 2013 to aid his players.

“I just tell them, don’t try to do anything crazy and don’t do anything outside of your character,” Reese said. “As long as you trust in the guys next to you and trust in what we have in the system, we’ll be fine. We just need to make plays collectively and within the realm of what we’re doing as a team. As long as we can stay true to who we are throughout the game, there’s going to be ups and there’s going to be downs, but it’s a matter of how you handle those things.”

CIF Playoffs

Divisional Round

June 11

Amarillo 98, Dodge City 56

Bloomington 65, Sioux City 45

Division Championship

June 18

Wichita 52, Bloomington 51

Amarillo 57, Texas 53

Champions Bowl II

Monday

Amarillo at Wichita, 7:05 p.m.