In six-man, Class 1A football, the rosters can be pretty small. But the numbers can get pretty big, once the scoring starts.
It's a wide-open game, as the Jewell Blue Jays discovered last year, in their (and the OSAA's) first season of six-man football.
Coach Joel Johnston did what he could with what he had, going 1-5 with nine players over a six-game schedule.
The Jays highlighted their season with a 44-7 home victory over Triangle Lake, in between losses to McKenzie (79-13), Eddyville Charter (58-24) and Gilchrist (78-41).
Jewell had three home games in September, and closed with three road games in October.
That's life in 1A football — you go wherever you can schedule a game.
“We have some road trips,” says Will Beatty, who takes over as the Jewell head coach. “Alsea and Triangle Lake are over three hour trips. No overnighters, though, this year.”
The Jays also have a game scheduled at McKenzie, but the remaining four games are at home.
Jewell had eight players on the first official day of practice, but Beatty was expecting two to four more players.
“It's still going to be a small team, but for the most part, everybody's played at the high school level except for four,” he said. “We have about half new, half returning. I'm really looking forward to my freshman quarterback (Justin Wammack). We're thinking he should be able to connect with some of our older guys, Aiden Bixel (Jr.) in particular. He's a pretty good athlete.
“Justin was quarterback for last year's middle school team, so I've had him all the way through,” said Beatty, who served as the middle school coach. “This will be our fourth year together. So I know what he can do, and he's quite the talent.”
The lone senior is Josh Ruch, while Damien Anderson and Bixel are the only juniors.
The “large” sophomore class has four players, including Ruben Anderson, Cyrus Blodgett, Reid Duncan and Bradley Rogers.
Wammack and Corey Crawford are freshmen.
“It's nice to have a little bit of size in there,” Beatty said of six-man football. “But for the most part, it's a fast game, fast pace … some passing league type stuff.”
As far as the Casco League race goes, Beatty said, “they were all pretty competitive last year (even Triangle Lake later defeated Jewell to end the season).
“Especially when they all have numbers and they can alternate players,” he said. “By the third and fourth quarters, it really makes a difference. Pretty much any team that's bigger than us is someone to watch out for.”