During a weightlifting session Friday Magazine head coach Doug Powell was keying numbers into an iPad.
Powell is used to playing a numbers game about this time of year. But this year is a little different.
Rather than wonder if he will actually have a enough players show up to run a full practice, Powell is expecting a roster of about 32. But even that is misleading. If everyone who had ever played football were in shoulder pads last week he would have had 45 or 46.
But, with 20 players reporting — including an injured Mason Suttles, who spent last week in a boot after an ankle injury sustained on the last play of the last 7-on-7 matchup in Booneville — for Friday’s practice, he has even more numbers to consider.
Because new rules require players to go through a progression of three days in shorts and helmets; then two in shorts, helmets and shoulder pads before full contact could begin on Aug. 12, Powell has players at various stages.
Before Friday there were an average of 27 kids reporting for the evening sessions made possible due to the installation of lights on the school’s practice field.
“We may just go to evening practices from now on,” said Powell. “Kids don’t want to get up. They’ll stay up all night but they don’t want to get up.”
But Friday was a letdown for Powell. He wasn’t the only one.
“Coach what kind of turnout is this,” Alex Elkins barked while leading calisthenics. Told it could be a weekend issue, Elkins responded, “I don’t care what night it is, the suckers ought to show up. It’s go time.”
“I’m finding people who want to start right now. It’s that simple,” Powell said.
Line numbers have also consistently been one which Powell is keenly aware. That isn’t as much the case this year as he has 10, including a move by Layton Robinson to tight end.
The roster numbers also include five students who are on the squad through the so-called Tim Tebow rule that allows home school students to participate in pubic school extracurricular activities.
Of course the most important football numbers are often the win-loss record. Magazine is coming off a 4-6 season — it would be 4-5 were it not for a one quarter final against Quitman week two which would not count now because of a new rule adopted by the AAA last month stating at least half of a game must be played.
The Rattlers are picked fifth in Conference 2A-4.