There was a time that mandatory football practices, two-a-days back in the day, served as a purging period, stimulating those less inspired to find something else to do with their time.
With workout schedules, team camps, 7-on-7 and other activities filling the summer nowadays, a lot of of the trimming has already occurred.
At least Booneville head coach Scott Hyatt hopes it has.
Hyatt is expecting 35 players when fall camp begins on Monday, three weeks before a scrimmage at Charleston and less than five weeks before the season opener in Pea Ridge.
Dipping to the mid-30s continues a trend of a shrinking roster in Booneville.
“In 2012 we had 50 but ended up with about 45 that year,” said Hyatt. “In 2013 we won the state championship being the smallest school in 4A and ended up dressing about 40 at the end, we had 42.”
In the middle of the season last year there was one game in which there were 29 Bearcats in uniform due to some defections, dismissals and injury deletions.
While the Bearcats were marching through the playoffs in 2013 the junior high program had only about 35 kids out for football. Those kids are now the senior high players.
Right now, the low number of players is mostly a student body size issue Hyatt said.
“These last three classes, seniors this past year, seniors this year and juniors this year, number-wise are just small classes,” said Hyatt.
This year that means 11 seniors and eight juniors. Sophomores will occupy 16 uniforms.
Still, the current player shortage was predictable long before the title year run according to Hyatt.
“Do the math, in 2007 when I took over (as head coach) we were in the 50s. In the spring of 2008, what happened,” Hyatt said rhetorically. “After Cargill (burned and closed) we lost a bunch of young people whose parents had to go somewhere to find work.”
Options to find things to do are also more plentiful, Hyatt noted.
“This is not easy. It requires a commitment and hard work,” Hyatt said.
Just seven miles down the road Magazine Rattler head coach Doug Powell is battling the same issues, magnified somewhat by being at a Class 2A size school.
Powell said last week he has had no more than 14 for a summer workout but has had about 18 different players who have participated. Consequently he said he expects only 16 Monday morning.
The Rattlers open the 2016 season on Sept. 2 in Murfreesboro. Magazine had originally scheduled Mount Ida but, at the request of the folks organizing the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic, who wanted to pit Mountain Ida against Centerpoint at Ouachita Baptist, the game was changed. Mount Ida will travel to Magazine next year.