MIDDLETOWN — Reese Poffenbarger has the chance to give the Middletown football program something it’s rarely — if ever — had this season.
Poffenbarger is big (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), mobile, experienced (a senior and three-year starter) and says he can fling a football 75 yards.
If the upcoming season proceeds as Poffenbarger hopes, he could become a highly sought-after quarterback prospect in a program not known for producing them.
Poffenbarger already has one offer in hand (VMI), and others could come pouring in if the Knights’ offense takes off this season.
“A lot of the colleges I have been talking to have held off so far,” Poffenbarger said Wednesday after Middletown completed its first day of practice. “They want to see the first three games.”
Asked what prospective colleges were looking for, Poffenbarger stated flatly, “Division I level throws.”
Despite leading Middletown to a pair of winning records (7-3 and 6-4) in his first two seasons under center, the Knights failed to reach the playoffs in either since they play in one of the most competitive regions in the state (Class 2A West). That limited Poffenbarger’s exposure to potential suitors.
Injuries along the offensive line last season robbed him of time in the pocket. Still, Poffenbarger threw for 1,599 yards and 20 touchdowns, completing close to 60 percent of his passes, and he feels he will be dramatically better this season.
“I think we are going to be really hard to stop,” he said. “I don’t want to say too much.”
Since it began playing football in 1974, Middletown has proudly cultivated a run-first reputation on offense. The Knights have always wanted to be a physical and punishing team. And while they have benefitted greatly from that approach, it has stifled development in the passing game.
Poffenbarger’s arm and ability to see the field should allow the Knights to finally let it fly in the passing game.
And while coach Collin Delauter professes that it’s always good to be balanced on offense, he admits that having a quarterback like Poffenbarger presents “a lot more options” when it comes to play calling.
Last season, Poffenbarger played at 170 pounds and began hearing whispers that he wasn’t big enough to play Division I football.
So, he began an intense weight training and eating regimen (up to six meals a day) that packed 35 pounds onto his frame.
He attended two quarterback camps over the summer and started working with a personal quarterback coach twice a week. Improving his footwork so he remained elusive in the pocket and gaining arm strength were two points of emphasis.
“I feel like I can make 25-to 30-yard throws on a line,” Poffenbarger said.
To ensure his teammates were improving with him, Poffenbarger summoned them for workouts, during which they would cover most routes in the Middletown playbook. The Knights won a pair of 7-on-7 tournaments over the summer.
The Friday Hangout was instituted to build team chemistry.
“Everyone is pumped about the season,” Poffenbarger said. “Everybody wants to win.”
Poffenbarger learned a lot about the recruiting process just by watching his younger sister Saylor secure a basketball scholarship to UConn. And his rising profile could test Middletown’s “Nobody is Above the Team” culture.
“The great thing about it is I don’t have to do a whole lot,” Delauter said. “The guys police themselves. They buy into to the system, and everyone understands they are just a cog in the wheel.”