Most high school football coaches prefer something bigger than a three-on-three intrasquad scrimmage with the other guy on the roster taking a Gatorade break. But there is little choice at Coastal Christian, where the team picture could be taken in a photo booth.
Depth issues are common in football. Stars graduate, injuries happen, newcomers quit. Then there’s the spirited Coastal Christian varsity, seven players strong in the midst of two-a-day workouts.
“It’s kind of hard to practice,” said Seth White, a junior quarterback/linebacker who has no problem getting enough repetitions.
The hardest-working team in South Carolina was back at it Tuesday, banging helmets in 90-degree heat and no breeze on a Mount Pleasant field thickly surrounded by trees and anxiety. It helps that Coastal Christian plays 8-man football, competing in the South Carolina Independent School Association.
That still leaves head coach J.W. Myers one player shy of a full squad — in which everyone plays on offense, defense and special teams. And that’s counting sophomore Will Todd, who showed up for his very first Coastal Christian practice Monday.
Myers says he needs at least 10 players for the season opener, an Aug. 30 home game against Lake City’s Carolina Academy.
The complete roster
“We had to play a game with nine players a few years ago but it wasn’t ideal,” Myers said. “We’re hoping to get a couple more players coming out when school starts. Every year it’s a question of ‘Are we going to have enough players to field a team?’ But this year has been the hardest.”
This isn’t some start-up program. Myers, 27, is a Coastal Christian social studies teacher entering his fourth season as head coach. The Cougars went 7-4 last season and made the SCISA playoffs with a senior-laden team.
It’s a rare luxury to be able to list every single player on a football team in a story, or a short sentence. Here goes: White and Todd are joined by junior Will Hollingsworth, sophomores Josh Morgan, Hayden Riley and Ben Forbes and freshman Will Myrick.
“Some people wait to join the team until the school year starts when players can be held accountable for not coming to practice,” said Hollingsworth, a wide receiver and linebacker. “Nobody wants to come out and work in this weather.”
‘You can play here’
Coastal Christian has a dozen players on the junior varsity, and some participate in varsity practices. Myers said promoting a few eighth-graders is an option.
“But I don’t want to do that,” Myers said. “I want our younger players to learn the game of football. Most of them are not ready mentally or physically for varsity football.”
Myers has his recruiting pitch down pat, aimed at Mount Pleasant residents also considering Wando, Bishop England or Palmetto Christian: “What we try to sell is, ‘You can play here.’ It may not be at a high level, but it’s a strong and competitive level.”
Everyone in Cougar navy blue is excited about the new spread offense, the key in luring White back to the sport after taking the 2012 season off to rest after a football-basketball-baseball schedule cycle.
“It’s not just bubble screens,” White said. “It’s a lot of downfield routes. It’s a lot more aggressive and entertaining.”
“I think we’re going to put up a lot of points and really have a good year,” he said.
All it takes is a few new players to push the Coastal Christian roster into double digits.
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff