If anybody wanted to see the high school football season happen in 2020 more than anyone, it was Hopkinsville’s Reece Jesse.
The Tiger senior was knocking on the door of becoming the most prolific receiver to ever put on the orange and black in Hoptown. When he and his teammates were given the green light, they were ready to go.
“It was really exciting,” Jesse said. “When they first told us, we were in a group chat just texting each other all happy. We really didn’t know. Practicing out here, it was kind of hard to be motivated because we didn’t really know. But then we found out we were going to play so everybody’s energy was up.”
He got the opportunity he wanted and he didn’t just open the door, he kicked it down.
Jeese didn’t have the year he had in 2019, but what he got was more than enough to become the leader in every major receiving record in school history, cementing his status as a Tiger great for many years to come. Jesse’s record-breaking campaign in his final year is why he is the 2020 Kentucky New Era football Athlete of the Year.
After receiving the ok to start the fall season, Jesse immediately set his sights for the record books.
“I was going for the records,” Jesse said. “I already knew I was close to them so I just wanted to go ahead and surpass them and beat them.”
It started in the second game of the season.
Jesse had four catches for 131 yards and a touchdown in a 54-27 win over Caldwell County, giving him the all-time receiving yards record.
It was just the beginning.
The senior racked up the rest of the receiving records throughout the season en route to helping the Tigers to the state semifinals.
“It means a lot (breaking the records),” Jesse said. “My freshman year, I never really thought of this at all. Coming into this year, seeing how close I was, I knew I had to go get them.”
Jesse said he was happy to help his team get to the final four in Class-3A and resetting the standard of what Hopkinsville football is supposed to be.
“It was a good feeling to get there,” he said. “We were setting the bar for the next teams that come and play. Hopefully, they’ll keep that bar up and continue to make it there.”
Jesse said it was fun to play at the high school level, but his story is only just beginning.
“I think it was amazing,” Jesse said of his time as a Tiger. “I had a lot of great memories with the team and just wish I could put a jersey back on and play. But, it’s time for the next step of my life now.”
Now focused on the future, Jesse is looking and weighing his options for his collegiate career.
As the lone top-10 recruit in the state of Kentucky according to 24/7 Sports uncommitted (Jesse is ninth in KY), the senior’s time to make a decision is dwindling ahead of National Signing Day in February.
Jesse wants to make sure he is not only set up for his career on the field, but his life off of it as well.
“It has to have a good education program and the coaches can make me a better player on and off the field,” he said of his ideal school. “Just making me grow as a person.”
National Signing Day is Feb. 3 and coming quickly but Jesse said a decision date hasn’t been set just yet.
“I haven’t thought about finding a time yet, but it’s starting to come up again,” Jesse said.