The Lyman Ward Military Academy Rangers will be entering a new era when they take the football field in 2015.
The Rangers have left the Alabama Independent School Association, joining the Alabama Christian Athletic Association and will compete in 8-man football moving forward.
LWMA announced the move in a press release in which it also announced that Richard Oliver will coach the team’s offense while Brian Reiselbara will coach the defense, sharing head-coaching duties.
According to the release, Reiselbara joined LWMA in 2014 as the school Medical Officer and played tight end briefly at the University of Florida before a brief stint with the Miami Dolphins.
“I am very optimistic about our upcoming season,” Reiselbara said in the release. “We have some fine young men to work with and I expect good things this year.”
Oliver has been with LWMA off and on since 2009, serving as head soccer coach in 2013 and again in 2015 as well as offensive line coach for the Rangers in 2009, 2010 and 2013. Under Coach Oliver, Ranger soccer made two appearances in the AISA state playoffs.
“I’m excited to get this program moving forward. Coach Reiselbara and I are thrilled with what we’ve seen so far,” Oliver said in the release. “We feel like this is the beginning of great things for Ranger football.”
Oliver said the transition to 8-man football will not be too difficult, as the rules remain mostly the same.
“It’s still football. It’s still played on a field of 100 yards, and you’re only losing two tackles and a fullback,” Oliver said. “Then on defense you’ll be losing your two defensive tackles and a strong safety.”
Oliver said competitiveness was partially what motivated LWMA to move to 8-man football, as the Rangers are 0-27 over the past three years. Oliver is also hoping the move will help the Rangers build community interest in the program.
“Kind of what made our move to eight man was so that we can be more competitive,” Oliver said. “We do start our season on Sept. 11 and my main goal is to kind of build more awareness that there is more in this area. We’re also a high school, so maybe we can build up some community interest in that process.”