Even though the Paris High School football program may not have enough players to field a JV team this season, one fact that's incredibly evident is that head coach Gary Crusha and staff are looking to improve upon the two wins they sported last season.
The only way that goal can become a reality is through events like the one the Coyotes are hosting this week Mon-Fri. from 5:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m.
"We just want to get back to the basics of our offense and our defense. Earlier this summer we laid down some new fundamentals on both sides of the ball. Now we want to focus on executing those principles in the heat," Crusha said. "This is the climate we're going to have for the next couple weeks. Hopefully the players we've been missing recently will all come together and we'll begin to gel a little bit."
Just like most football programs this time of year, Paris' roster hasn't had a chance to work as a complete unit yet because of issues like family vacations and lingering injuries. The difference between the Coyotes and other teams is that in addition to low participation numbers they also have to share their athletes with every other sport at the school and during the summer that often results in scheduling conflicts.
"We pretty much scrapped our whole offense from 2016. Now we've got basically a brand new attack designed around a couple people, so when those faces changed so did our offense. Now we've got a few people who are playing new positions," said Crusha. "These kids are going to play hard. We're young. Of the 20 players we have now, seven are freshmen and five or six are sophomores. We won't have a lot of experience, but the guys will give it everything they've got. That's all I can ask for."
Even though most people who live in and around Paris do so because of how undisturbed the area is by modern expansion, it's that same rural nature that keeps the attendance numbers at the high school low. While those circumstances certainly lend themselves to the idea of a close-knit community, the actuality of individuals who consider this teams efforts a personal cause seems to vary from one year to the next.
"Coyote Pride is kind of a community thing. We've been trying to build on that for the past seven years. It helps when you win more," Crusha said. "A couple years ago we had some really good teams. It seemed like their was more community pride then than there was last year when we had a bit of an off season. It doesn't change for me. This will be my 21st year coaching. I still get excited for Friday nights. I enjoy going out there and leading these boys and hopefully we find more success in 2017."
Once this camp runs from July 17-21, the second high school athletic dead period takes place from July 24-28. It's all business after that starting July 31st with the first official day of practice.
"We have to play as a cohesive unit. That's why I told our freshmen that they're going to get vasity playing time," said Crusha. "A lot of these guys are brand new to varsity football. We're going to have 14 and 15 year old kids going up against 17 and 18 year olds. That means our juniors and seniors are going to have to be good role models. The upperclassmen are going to have to help us fill those holes in. We're not going to ask them to do more then they can. Just be a cog that helps our engine run."
Once the regular season begins Aug. 18 against Lee's Summit North, that will be the first of five home games over the initial six weeks of the schedule for this squad. Paris then plays a pair of games at Monroe City on Sept. 29 and Oct. 20 that are sandwiched around its final regular season home contest against Schuyler County on Oct. 6 according to www.maxpreps.com.
"I enjoy coaching at a small school because you're on a more personal level with these kids. You not only get to know them at school, but you get to know their families and their background," Crusha said. "It's a lot like we have our on family environment. It's really enjoyable to coach in that type of environment."