HARPERSVILLE -- Coosa Valley Academy is eyeing a return to 11-man football this fall.
Last season, the Rebels played eight-man football due to low numbers. First-year head coach RL Langston said it’s going to be a process to make sure the Rebels are not in this position in the future.
“Our problem right now, and we are getting better at it, is numbers,” Langston said. “If you don’t have the numbers, football is a tough game to play.
“Our long-term goal is to have a process in place to bring younger kids in and build a program that lasts instead of trying to build a team every year. We have to do something that is substantial, is going to last and is good for the school.”
Langston wouldn’t say how many players the Rebels currently have. He said in two weeks he will know for sure whether they are going to play 11-man competition.
“We are not really keen on numbers,” Langston said. “We are heading towards 11-man, and we think we will be able to do that. To tell you that we have 25-26 kids will be far-fetched.”
Langston said CVA is conducting both morning and afternoon workouts, but a couple of players are not participating right now because they are on a retreat, therefore, he’s not including them in the team’s current head count, which is one reason he’s reluctant to reveal a roster size right now.
Langston noted the Rebels have been working out for just a week and half, and he hasn’t seen every player who committed to play football. He added if CVA does not have enough players for 11-man competition, it will compete in eight-man.
“We are not going to put kids in jeopardy,” Langston said. “Having 14-15 kids is one thing. If you have 20-24, that is another thing.
“A lot of times in the private system, kids are not going to come to voluntary workouts. I had three calls (Tuesday) asking when football starts. We sent you stuff out weeks ago, so that is what we deal with. It will get better.”
The Alabama Independent School Association announced last week the football season will start on time, and teams will have to follow safety protocols. Langston believes the COVID-19 pandemic has played a role in CVA’s low numbers.
“I think people still have fear,” he said. “That child is God’s precious gift that He gives to all of us. You want to protect them. I think being in the private system, mommas protect them even greater. I think we have that problem.”
The last time the Rebels took part in 11-man competition, they struggled. CVA went 4-8 in 2018. One of Langston’s goals is to change the culture of the football program at CVA.
“Our goal is a steppingstone,” he said. “We want to accomplish something and be successful this year to build on what we can do next year.
“I don’t think we can go out there and go through the motions. We have been working hard. We have to change the mindset, and it is not just here, it is a societal thing. Kids are going to do what they have to and not what they need to. It is the same with voluntary workouts -- they are not going to show up until they have to. They are always behind and they don’t understand that.”
Langston and the Rebels are set to open the season Aug. 21 at Hooper Academy.