The university on Monday announced its schedule for this fall, and the Eagles will kick off in Macon at another first-year program, Mercer, on Aug. 31 and then play a full slate of games against Mid-South Conference opponents. However, only games against divisional foes will count in the Mid-South standings.
Reinhardt will play in the West Division along with Belhaven (Miss.) University, Bethel (Tenn.) University, Campbellsville (Ky.) University, Faulkner (Ala.) University and Cumberland (Tenn.) University.
Eagles coach Danny Cronic said that his team is excited to be opening against Mercer, another upstart program from the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision.
“We are excited,” he said. “The first game is Mercer and a lot of the coaches at Mercer had coached at Furman, and our two coordinators came from Furman. They have a very fine facility there.”
Mercer is coached by Bobby Lamb, who was Furman’s coach for nine seasons. Reinhardt assistants Drew Cronic — Danny’s son — and Rusty Wright served on Lamb’s staff with the Paladins.
After opening the season at Mercer, Reinhardt will play its first game at Ken White Field a week later, when it hosts Lindsey Wilson (Ky.) College. The Eagles will then take to the road at Kentucky Christian on Sept. 14 and Faulkner on Sept. 21.
The Eagles will return home to face Bethel on Sept. 28 before traveling back to Kentucky to face Union College on Oct. 5.
Reinhardt will get some much needed rest with its bye week before opening a three-game homestand. Belhaven will visit Oct. 19, the University of the Cumberlands on Oct. 26 and, after another bye week, Cumberland on Nov. 9.
Reinhardt will close its inaugural season Nov. 16 at Campbellsville.
Lindsey Wilson, Kentucky Christian, Union and Cumberlands play out of the Mid-South’s East Division.
Cronic said there is a lot of work to be done before the Eagles’ opener, but everyone is working hard to be ready.
“You can practice a lot of things, but you can’t practice what that first game will be like,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of good players now, but we’re still out recruiting hard, learning about our team, and trying to time ourselves to have everything ready to go when that first game gets here.
Cronic, who got his coaching start as an assistant at Cherokee, said he looks forward to drawing on some of the talent from the county.
“We have several players who have gone off and then come back (to Cherokee County),” he said. “We are playing a higher level ball than I think people think for us.”
While all of the players who came to Reinhardt last fall will be redshirt freshmen, the program did receive some transfers in December. Cronic hopes these incoming players can add some game experience to a roster that none of the current players have.
“Right now we brought in some folks from some other (NCAA) Division II schools, probably 10 of them who might be sophomores or redshirt freshmen,” Cronic said. “We don’t have hardly any experience, but they are going to get it fast.”