Even though the regular season is still approximately 15 weeks away, the Wesleyan Christian School football program already is feeling the growing pains of joining the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association.
And, there’s no over-the-counter antidote.
By going into the OSSAA, WCS cannot utilized homeschool students the way it did previously.
That’s led to a sharp decline in live bodies for grid head coach Curt Cloud.
“We’re still in the process of counting numbers,” Cloud said on Sunday, the eve of the opening of spring football practice. “We’re struggling to get a number of kids to come out. … We’re hoping a couple of homeschool kids will enroll in school.”
Cloud hoped to have at least 10 or 11 athletes available for Monday’s practice — but six just showed up.
However, he had at least other players committed to playing who weren’t able to make it, plus his youngest players won’t be able to make after-school practice sessions until school is out.
WCS will play eight-man football in the OSSAA. The Mustang program belonged for a few years in the early 2010’s to the OSSAA, but departed and competed in a Christian school league.
While the return to the OSSAA creates more stability in scheduling and higher visibility statewide, the move also has its pricetag in terms of eligible players and transfer regulations.
However, the Mustangs boast a very strong nucleus of veterans around which to build this year’s team.
Junior Austin Cobb is slated to return as the third-year starting quarterback, with Quetz Lujan due to be back as his center.’
Other certain or potential battle-tested returnees include lineman Chandler Biesiadecki, receiver Hudson Sparks, lineman Tyler Heck and Preston Francis.
A couple of promising younger players that could contribute immediately are Parker Francis and Warren Biesiadecki.
Another key producer from last year’s team has decided to focus solely on baseball.
Meanwhile, Cloud is hoping for more students to show up and that some of the homeschoolers will enroll to attend WCS for the minimum-required five hours a day.
Cloud has scheduled four non-pad practice sessions this week.
“We’ll be throwing the ball around and getting loose,” he explained.
The following week, WCS is planning on attending a team camp in Graham.
Later in the month, WCS will host is own team camp with Copan, Bluejacket and possible Yale.
Cloud is grateful for those experienced players that have shown a “willingness to come out and play and work hard. They’ve been in my system for a year and know what I want to do. They’ve grown up and they’ve lifted weights all summer.”
Cloud believes a winning record is within reach this season, “depending on the numbers.”
WCS will open its return to the OSSAA with a showdown against Wilson.
During the third week, the Mustangs will take on Southwest Covenant (Yukon), in a game that features more for Cloud than just another game.
Southwest Covenant’s head coach is Cloud’s son Trey, a Wesleyan Christian School product that helped inaugurate the school’s varsity football program back in the late 2000’s.
This is the second year during the current stint of Curt Cloud as the WCS head coach