Football numbers down

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) -- One football team is trying to tackle a big problem because they almost didn't have enough players to suit up.

Friday football fever kicks off in two weeks but the Champaign Central Maroons freshman team only has 12 players right now. It's enough to start the season but that means almost every player will be playing the whole game - both offense, defense and special teams.

Coach Nate Albaugh says the high school has a small freshman class this year. That's having a major impact on how many of them came out to play football. But he says they're not giving up hope.

"We're pretty nervous right now. We need probably 5-10 more kids to be able to carry out this season."

Albaugh has been coaching the central high maroons for five years. Last year they had the largest freshman class they've he's ever seen. Almost 40 came out to play the game. But this year is the exact opposite. Right now they only have 12.

"We'd be playing both sides non stop. Probably very tired after the second quarter. So that would be a struggle for us."

Fewer players means more time on the field, and the coach says that can come at a cost to players.

"We need to get ourselves up to 18-20 to be able to have a successful season."

He says it's been a struggle to try and get boys out on the field.

"Because it takes a lot of work it's very rewarding but it's also hard to get young people to see there's a reward at the end of this tunnel."

Players on the senior team have been through that tunnel and made it out the other side. They say it's all worth it.

"I know it can be nerve racking going into high school. It's a completely new experience and as a freshman going on a football team you instantly have hundreds of friends right away."

For the maroons, it's not about the numbers.

"It's about making sure they're having a good experience and that this is worth being a part of for them."

And they're not letting the numbers on the team take away their love of the game.

"You'll make a bunch of friends, you're going to have a good time paying it. It's going to help you grow as a person and it's a guaranteed rush for four straight years on the football field."

"Just come out and try it. It's a fun experience. Just give it a shot."

They made phone calls and mailed posters to every freshman boy at the high school to try and recruit more players. But regardless if they get their numbers up, they're first game is in two weeks and these boys say they will play. 


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