Booneville head coach Scott Hyatt welcomed 53 to spring football practices last week, but the number is already down.
One player quit before the first of the two week permissible practice period was complete and, if history is any indication, more will likely follow — the drop from spring practice to the opening of the season is typically about five, but as many as 10 players.
"Some kids just don’t want to commit to anything," Hyatt said last week. "When it gets tough they don’t want to do it anymore."
Tough is what Hyatt will be expecting, if not outright demanding from a squad that will be defending a conference title virtually nobody thought was possible, and doing so on their way out the Class 4A door — recently released classifications by the Arkansas Activities Association make Booneville the largest Class 3A school for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years.
Hyatt and his staff are already looking to fill three offensive line spots opened by Thursday’s graduation exercises. The holdovers are Dalton Gray and Wade Weaver.
On a positive note, Hyatt’s entire backfield has experience because of what was, due to injuries and other circumstances, a backfield by committee last year.
Leading the way is quarterback Cody Harrel. The to-be senior became only the third Bearcat quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards. Joining Harrel are fullback Bryson May and halfbacks Matt Berry and Josh Smith.
"Josh probably has the least experience of any of our backs due to some injuries," said Hyatt.
Still, Smith had the longest run of the season in a 2012 game at Star City.
Defensive coordinator Ricky May has a few holes to fill as well and wasn’t shy in warning player he was looking to find those replacements during the first day of full contract scrimmage on Thursday.
Looking to rebound from a 4-6 season in 2012, second year head coach Doug Powell welcomed 24 to spring practice last week, a marked jump from most years in Magazine.
More impressive for Powell was the distribution of players by position.
"We had nine linemen," Powell said grinning. "I had Layton (Robinson) at tight end."