- Greg Wille
HAPPY TO BE HOME: Temple sophomore QB Rumfield learning as he grows, showing signs of stellar future
GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME: In his first season as Temple's starting quarterback, sophomore Reese Rumfield has passed for 478 yards and five touchdowns against two interceptions. After the Wildcats lost to Austin Westlake and Magnolia West, Rumfield broke through by throwing for 302 yards and three TDs in a 60-53 home win over Hutto. Rumfield, who grew up in Belton but had moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, arrived at Temple in May after his father, Brock Rumfield, was hired as a Temple assistant coach. Coach Scott Stewart's Wildcats (1-2) begin defense of their District 12-6A championship on Friday when they travel to play the Bryan Vikings (0-3) at 7:30 p.m. at Merrill Green Stadium. (Photo by Greg Wille, TempleBeltonSports.com)
By GREG WILLE
Five years ago, an 11-year-old Reese Rumfield watched his cousin Zach Rumfield play tight end for Temple’s 2016 football team in the Class 5A Division I state championship game against Dallas Highland Park. A year later, he watched his cousin TJ Rumfield quarterback the Wildcats to the fourth round of the playoffs.
Reese thoroughly enjoyed watching his cousins and their squads achieve great success, but at that stage of his life he had no reason to believe that he’d ever attend Temple High School and play for the Wildcats.
Rumfield lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where his father, former Belton multi-sport standout Brock Rumfield, coached baseball and football at Richardson Pearce. He played his freshman year of high school at Midlothian Heritage after his father joined its coaching staff, and as of late April this year, he was expecting to compete for the Jaguars’ starting quarterback position as a sophomore.
Alas, an unexpected-but-fortuitous series of events led Rumfield – who grew up in Belton until third grade, when his family moved away – to Temple and an opportunity to wear the same blue-front, white-back pants that he watched his cousins perform well in several years ago.
On April 30, Temple cornerbacks coach Chris VanCleave informed Wildcats head coach Scott Stewart that he’d be leaving for a coaching job at Rockdale. Stewart’s immediate search for a replacement piqued the interest of Brock Rumfield, whose wife, Crystal, had earned a promotion with Round Rock-based Dell Technologies, making a move back to Central Texas appealing for the family.
Brock Rumfield’s job interview with Stewart shortly thereafter revealed that it would be a good fit for both sides, and they reached an agreement for the 2021-22 school year. Reese Rumfield already was attending classes in Temple by approximately May 10 and joined the Wildcats’ four-week session of spring football practices about 1½ weeks into them.
“We were totally cool with it. We like it down here. This is more home to us,” Reese Rumfield said Tuesday about his family’s spur-of-the-moment move. “My mom works in Round Rock and it’s like 30 minutes away, so she’s way closer to work and she loves that. We were all excited, because (most of) our family lives down here, too, and we just wanted to be closer to all that. And we just know it’s the Temple Wildcats. I never thought I’d be playing here.”
After outdueling several teammates in a preseason competition to become Temple’s starting quarterback, Rumfield – who turned 16 on July 28 – not only is playing; he’s rapidly improving and growing into the role of a difference-making triggerman.
The 6-foot, 173-pound sophomore had up-and-down performances as the Wildcats began their season with home losses to No. 1-ranked Austin Westlake (3-0) and Magnolia West (4-0), but he broke through by passing for 302 yards and three touchdowns in their 60-53 victory over Hutto two weeks ago at Wildcat Stadium.
“I can definitely do better. I just feel like as I get more experience, I feel way more comfortable. As I keep on going, I think I’ll do fine. I’ve just got to get comfortable with it,” said Rumfield, who’s 26-of-54 passing for 478 yards and five touchdowns – all in the last two games – against two interceptions. “I want to improve a whole lot. I need to improve a whole lot. I think that will come with more experience and as I get older and bigger.
“I need to get bigger, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the weight room, and my mom’s been feeding me like no other. She’s like, ‘If you want to play at the varsity level, you’ve got to get bigger.’”
Rumfield seeks to keep making positive strides as a passer and a leader when Temple (1-2) begins defense of its District 12-6A championship with a road test against the Bryan Vikings (0-3) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Merrill Green Stadium.
“The growth he’s made . . . you’ve got to understand, this kid walked on campus in the second week of May. He got 2½ weeks of spring ball, if you can even count it as that, because there was a coach standing behind him saying, ‘OK, this is what this means. This is what this means,’” Stewart said about Rumfield. “He did get some summer stuff and we qualified for the (7-on-7) state tournament.
“Right now I like that he can see the field, he knows what he’s looking at, and then his delivery, he gets the ball out of his hand pretty good. He made some throws (vs. Hutto) where I think you see the ‘wow’ factor with that kid. He’s got great touch. It comes out of his hand quick. He’s pretty confident in his decision-making. He’s got some good insider coaching, and he’s also got some good genetics.”
GOING DEEP: Temple sophomore quarterback Reese Rumfield prepares to throw a long pass that senior running back Samari Howard caught for a 67-yard touchdown during the Wildcats' 27-14 home loss to Magnolia West on Sept. 3. The 6-foot, 173-pound Rumfield threw two TD passes that night but also his only two interceptions of his first season with Temple. "I want to improve a whole lot," the 16-year-old said. "I need to improve a whole lot. I think that will come with more experience and as I get older and bigger." (File photo by Mike Lefner, Temple ISD/Special to TempleBeltonSports.com)
Before Rumfield, Temple hadn’t entered a season with a non-senior as its starting quarterback since 2013, Chad President's injury-shortened junior year. And the last Wildcats sophomore to start at QB for the majority of a season was Zach Allen in 2010.
Considering that Rumfield didn’t even get to go through all of Temple’s spring practice, offensive coordinator Josh Sadler is very pleased with the steady progress of his skilled young quarterback.
“From getting here in May to now where we are today, Reese has come a long way. This offense is a very complicated offense. It takes time to really understand the workings of the offense, and he’s done one heck of a job,” Sadler said. “First, it’s finding his place. It’s hard enough moving to a brand-new situation and trying to find your fit with the locker room, your teammates and everything. And then second, it’s just understanding the offense to be successful.
“For a sophomore, he’s been a very, very quick study. You look at our past with quarterbacks, especially the past six years, we’ve always got that senior starter to come in who’s got all the experience. And Reese, he’s a young, young player. There’s some things we’ve seen that I expected and there’s also some surprises where you go, ‘Oh, wow. OK.’ But he’s still very young in the system. He’s learning and growing. We’re seeing weekly progressions, which is very good.”
Sadler explained that as good a job as Rumfield has done with learning his playbook and also his teammates, he still hasn’t gotten to experience the benefits of Temple's “Q school,” the Wildcats’ all-encompassing offseason training program that prepares their quarterbacks for everything they might see and have to do.
“Where we’ve been spoiled in the past is we’ve got those guys who have been in the system for six years, and we can throw stuff at them and they’ve seen it, heard it, felt it and worked it time and time again,” Sadler said. “With our Q school and meetings and everything else that we do with those guys, when you go through that for years and years, it prepares you for everything that’s going to be coming.
“With Reese it’s a little bit different. He hasn’t been through one of those yet. He got here in May and we were starting spring ball, so he didn’t get the full gamut of Q school. For him to be where he is right now, he’s done a heck of a job. I think with his maturation in his position in our offensive system, you’re just going to see that quarterback development year after year after year. You’ll see a quite different player, I think.”
A full dose of Q school will have to wait until the next offseason for Rumfield, but he’s busy trying to make up for any lost time with copious amounts of film sessions with offensive coordinator Sadler, who helped one-year starting QBs TJ Rumfield, Jared Wiley, Vance Willis and Humberto Arizmendi become highly productive.
“Coach Sadler, he’s such a good coach. I can’t thank him any more,” Reese Rumfield said. “He stays with me and we watch film, shoot, in the morning, after school and this (athletic) period. I look forward to it, because he makes it fun and we make it fun. He wants me to be successful.”
Rumfield said that his cousin TJ – who's now playing professional baseball in the Philadelphia Phillies organization after his standout 2021 season at Virginia Tech – has been a go-to source for learning how to play quarterback for Temple. TJ passed for 3,384 yards and 35 touchdowns for the 10-4 Wildcats in 2017.
“We were just on the phone two days ago. We like to talk about Temple football. He’ll be quizzing me on stuff, and I like that,” Reese said. “Before I actually moved down here (in May), TJ called me and ran through the whole offense with me, and I appreciated that. It’s still basically the same.
“He just told me the role of the QB job here. He was like, ‘If something goes wrong, just keep your head up. You only listen to Coach Sadler and (quarterbacks) Coach (Andrew) Cameron on the sideline. If anyone else tries to tell you something, it goes in one ear and out the other.’”
Rumfield has grown up with the knowledge that his father was, as Reese put it, “a really good athlete.” Standing 6-3, Brock Rumfield passed for 5,009 yards as Belton’s starting quarterback from 1992-93 and was a four-year baseball standout.
A shortstop and pitcher, Rumfield helped power coach David Tidwell’s Tigers to a 35-6 record and the 4A state championship as a senior in 1994. He was the winning pitcher in both state tournament games, shutting out Big Spring in the title game, and was selected 4A state player of the year. He played college baseball at McLennan, Texas and Lubbock Christian before playing pro ball in the Baltimore Orioles system from 1998-99.
“I heard he was a really good athlete,” Reese said about his father. “I know they won state in baseball and I heard he was a good QB. That’s what he’s told me.”
Because Reese is operating the offense and Brock is working as the assistant defensive backs coach, Reese said father and son don’t see each other much during practices.
“The only time I do see him is when we go to 1-on-1s and he’ll come over with us. I don’t even talk to him all practice. I think he likes defense a lot,” Reese said, describing his father as “real supportive” when it comes to dispersing advice.
“He’s been helping me a whole lot. He says that everyone’s looking up to you and how your body language is, that if it’s bad it reflects and that’s how the whole team is going to look. He says, ‘You’ve got to be positive and be a leader. They’re going to go off you.’ That’s the main key.”
As for Stewart, he’s enjoyed having another Rumfield on Temple’s coaching staff this season. Toby Rumfield, TJ’s father, joined Temple’s football program as an assistant coach in 2014 and served as the Wildcats’ head baseball coach from 2016-18 before moving on to coach at Denton.
Also a standout quarterback at Belton, Toby was the Cincinnati Reds’ second-round draft pick in 1991 and reached the Triple-A level with the Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals organizations before he retired as a player in 2004. He was a minor league manager and worked as a scout before becoming a high school coach.
Stewart’s father, former longtime Troy baseball coach Larry Stewart, graduated from Belton in 1965 with Shelby Rumfield, who was a longtime Belton assistant football and baseball coach and the father of Toby and Brock Rumfield. Shelby Rumfield died unexpectedly in March 2019 at age 72.
“He had a lot of impact. He was all about the sports. He loved that stuff,” Reese Rumfield recalled about his grandfather. “He loved Belton. He loved Temple, too.”
Stewart has fond memories of playing baseball with Toby and Brock Rumfield in the Belton youth league.
“Toby was two years older than me and Brock was one year younger, so about every third year I would play with one or the other,” said Stewart, a Troy graduate. “I’d play with Brock for two years and then I’d move up and play with Toby for one, then he’d move up.”
Stewart said Brock Rumfield, who will assist head baseball coach Dallas Robertson next season, brings experience, maturity and his own personality to Temple’s staff.
“Brock played (football) at a high level and he’s coached for 19 years. It’s almost the same personality, but he’s not near as goofy as Toby,” Stewart said. “There’d be times on a Sunday (during the coaches' meetings) when I’d say, ‘All right, everybody’s brain is fried. Let’s stop. Toby, go.’ And he’d start telling us stories about minor league ball and some of the craziest stuff you’ve ever heard. It was always good for a laugh.
“Brock is funny, but it’s kind of that quiet, subtle funny type stuff. Toby walked in and everybody was going to know Toby’s there. It’s a very endearing personality (Brock has). He brings a quiet calm to what could be a chaotic position.”
Speaking of chaotic, Reese Rumfield’s regular-season debut for Temple was the Aug. 27 opener against powerhouse Westlake, winner of two straight 6A state championships. As the sophomore quarterback ran onto the field early in the first quarter, the skies opened up and delivered a brief-but-strong rainstorm, soaking the ball as he tried to throw it against the stubborn defense of the No. 1 Chaparrals.
“That was the worst weather that could have happened. That was not fun,” he recalled.
Facing consistent pressure, Rumfield completed eight of 22 passes for 90 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions as the Wildcats absorbed a mistake-filled 54-13 defeat.
“It was definitely a challenge, but I didn’t even think about it like they were the No. 1 team. I just went into it like it’s another football team and it’s a football game,” Rumfield said. “I was a little nervous right when I stepped out there, but I got way more comfortable (as the game progressed).”
Sadler was impressed by how Rumfield navigated the difficult circumstances.
“We kind of laugh about it now, but you trot out your sophomore quarterback against the No. 3 team in the country that’s got a 6-6 defensive end on one side and a 6-7 defensive end on the other side,” Sadler said. “They’re touted as one of the best defenses in the state, and you’re asking him to go out there and defeat basically Goliath.
“He handled that situation very well. I was very pleased with how he went out there and handled himself and how he kept fighting. He never seemed to get real rattled. He’s handled each one of those situations very well. He’s got a cool, calm demeanor about him. I just like how he carries himself.”
Rumfield notched his first touchdown pass a week later on a short fade to senior wide receiver Devan Williams in the first quarter and added a 67-yard TD strike to senior running back Samari Howard in the second half, but Magnolia West limited him to 86 yards and he threw two interceptions in Temple’s 27-14 loss.
“We did not play bad at all. It was a really good game, but I had two interceptions and I learned from that,” Rumfield said. “I’ve got to know the certain type of windows I’m throwing into and the timing of the routes and that I can’t force anything. The first one where I tried to throw that little quick curl, it was a bad read. Now I can see it, so I feel a lot more comfortable with it.”
Rumfield’s major breakthrough came in Temple’s non-district finale against Hutto two weeks ago. He fired touchdown passes of 52 yards to senior Andre Anderson and 57 and 65 yards to Williams, with the final TD giving the Wildcats a commanding 42-21 lead en route to his 300-yard night and their first victory.
“I’d probably say the second post I had to Devan against Hutto (was the best throw this season). It came right after halftime and we had to put more points on the board,” Rumfield said. “I look up to Devan. He’s a good dude, and we’ve gotten a bond and become way closer. We know we can get it done together.”
Rumfield also commended his linemen, who, like him, are steadily improving after a challenging start this season.
“I couldn’t thank the O-line enough. The last game, oh my, they lit it up,” he said. “I don’t think a defensive player even touched me. I had so much time.”
Both Howard – 12-6A’s Co-MVP last season – and junior wide receiver Mikal Harrison-Pilot have played quarterback in the past and continue to get practice work at QB, so they’re able and willing to give Rumfield pointers to better understand Temple’s attack.
“They’re gravitating toward Reese and they’re trying to help him. Samari is probably his right-hand guy out there, trying to help him with all the protections and play-calls. For Reese to have to memorize all of it in 5 months, it’s tough,” Sadler said. “You’ll watch Mikal in film study talk to him about reads, because he’s gone through Q school. It’s really neat to see them hanging out together and talking football.”
Rumfield listed English as his favorite school subject and described home life as “boring” since his sister and only sibling, Ava, recently moved away to attend Texas Tech, although she is expected to come watch him play at Bryan in the district opener.
Rumfield enjoys watching Dallas Cowboys and Florida Gators games in his spare time and aspires to play football beyond high school. He said football has surpassed baseball as his main sport, though he does plan to play baseball next spring while also practicing with Temple’s track team to try to improve his speed.
For Sadler, the long-range plan for Rumfield is to become as sharp and polished when he’s a senior – and potential third-year starter – as a player such as Cade Klubnik, Westlake’s Clemson-committed senior quarterback.
“That’s the ultimate goal. It would be a great deal to have. We always want that to happen, because you can tell that (Klubnik’s) had that time under center and he’s been coached in those situations. He can easy the line and check into plays that are good situations for them,” Sadler said. “We all expect (Rumfield) to roll out there and be able to do all that stuff. I’m guilty of it, too. (But) we’ve got to understand that he is a sophomore and he’s going to take some lumps and he’s going to continually get better.
“I would dare say that two years from now Reese . . . I’m not going to say he’ll be a completely different kid, because he’s a pretty darn good player right now, but I think he will look like that leader on the field that’s just commanding everything. That’s where I want him to be – to be able to go out there and if a defense does one thing, he can look up and go, ‘No, we’re going to do this,’ and rock and roll.”
Said Stewart: “He’s 16. There’s going to be a natural maturation process, and I just think everything he’s getting right now is going to pay dividends later.”
Rumfield already has come a long way from the 15-year-old freshman who showed up in Temple in early May and was thrown right into the quarterback fray after spring ball had begun.
“It was a little challenging, but I’d just go out there and they’d tell me (what to do) and I’d see if we could execute it. Sometimes we just got a little bit lucky,” Rumfield said. “Thank God I had (the coaches) right behind me.”
Rumfield’s past as an interested observer of Temple football collided with his present as a key Wildcats player when he recently visited with his cousin Zach, the former standout tight end.
“He was over at our house and was talking to me about Temple football and how much fun it is,” Reese said.
Happy to be back home in Bell County, it’s now the sophomore quarterback’s turn to create some great memories of his own.
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