Football by the numbers

The Highland Christian Prep might play football Oct. 30, or it might not.

That isn’t usually the case when it comes to football, but coach Pete Miller has learned not to take anything for granted this year.

“We knew we were going to have problems at the start of the year, but I didn’t expect this much,” he said.

With two weeks left in the season and the Knights have yet to play a home game. With a record of 1-4 so far this season, Highland Christian hasn’t set foot on the gridiron in a game situation since Oct. 17, which was almost a month after their previous game.

The problem is simple numbers. The figures of private school tuition are too high for most, and that results in too few players. The school’s enrollment dropped from 225 students in 2008 to 125 this year. Leaving with those 100 students were 10 of Miller’s players, four of them starters.

I know what you’re thinking: how many players does it really take to play eight-man football?

Well, in Highland Christian’s case, seven. That’s how many players they’ve ended two of their five games with.

“It’s a good thing for us that we have such great sportsmanship,” Miller said, referring to the other coaches willingness to pull a player and even the field.

It might not be sportsmanship, though. Maybe it’s just following the golden rule because there’s a good chance that it could be your team next week that is down a player. Two of the Knights’ last three games (versus Neah Bay Oct. 17 and Lopez Oct. 23) have been decided by a forfeiture due to too few available players, and another was cancelled.

Meanwhile, all Highland Christian can do is practice, which is also a challenge when you’ve only got 12 players on your roster at best.

“Everything we do has to be a drill because we don’t have enough bodies to matchup,” Miller said.

And when they do practice, Miller has to worry about how hard to push his team because one injury or sickness could literally mean his team doesn’t play next week.

Their most recent forfeit — a win — was scheduled to be their homecoming, which is now scheduled for Oct. 30. And after five road games and three straight weeks of practice, their chance to play might actually come Oct. 30.

So what does that leave?

Twelve kids and two coaches who love football, and are doing everything they can to play this week. And they will to the same next week, even if each player practices against himself for a game that never comes.

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