By Dave Wagner
Nine players may not seem like many, even for a six-man football program.
Faith Triumphant survived an even smaller roster last year, though.
“We played (most of) last year with seven, so it looks like we’re pretty close to being in the same boat,” fourth-year Conquerors coach Shawn Kelly said. “We just try to make up for it with conditioning.”
Faith Triumphant’s roster includes two seniors, three juniors, one sophomore and three freshmen. Kelly said the frosh haven’t reported for practice yet, due to summer work commitments and the like.
Faith Triumphant, 7-3 last fall, opens the 2004 season on Aug. 27 with a 5 1/2-hour trip to El Paso to play Jesus Chapel, which handed the Conquerors one of its losses last season.
Despite the long trip, Kelly said the matchup has been good for his squad.
“We established a good relationship with them about five years ago,” said Kelly, who started as an assistant coach at Faith. “We were impressed with their program, and it was a game we wanted to keep.”
Faith Triumphant plays an independent schedule as a member of TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools). So far, the Conquerors have a four-week stretch of open dates — from Sept. 17 through Oct. 8 — but Kelly is still working on filling at least a couple of them.
“We’d like to have nine or 10 (games),” Kelly said. “We usually play a 10-game schedule.”
The team will build around its two seniors — quarterback-defensive back Luis McCain and wide receiver-linebacker Eric Cathey.
McCain is a fourth-year starter on both sides of the ball.
“The past three years have been fun, and I’m hoping to have even more fun this year,” said the 5-foot-7, 140-pounder.
Cathey was a starter a year ago, but broke his arm in the third game and was out until the basketball season.
Faith Triumphant graduated one key player, while another moved away to San Antonio. McCain hopes the incoming freshmen will be able to take up some of the slack.
“They should help us when they come out,” he said. “They should give some of us a breather for a second or two.
“It was kind of hard last year, with only seven guys. We were all tired, but we got used to it.”
Kelly said juniors Caleb Richards and Seth Pearson, both running backs on offense and ends on defense, will also be heavily counted on.
“The keys are pretty much as they always have been,” Kelly said. “We have to get our spread offense going and hold them often enough on defense.
“And we have to limit turnovers. Six-man is such an explosive sport — you get two good teams and they’re going to score a lot.”