For over two decades now the Paris varsity football team has been facing off against the same squads in the preseason in an effort to sharpen their teeth before going off to battle in search of that ever elusive Lewis and Clark Championship.
Some seasons it works better than others, but every year all four teams come back to draw from that same well. It's as much a tradition as it is anything else, and it's certainly not open to newcomers at this point. This is a relationship that took a long time to establish. A kinship, of sorts. Kind of like when soldiers go to basic training together. So, on Aug. 18, even though it won't count on their overall record, the Coyotes are still going to have to scrimmage three teams that want it just as bad as they do.
"(We will be facing) Knox County, Westran and South Shelby," said Paris head coach Gary Crusha. "With our numbers this event will do little to determine our depth chart."
As Crusha mentioned, with a roster hovering somewhere around two dozen players, Paris will be doing all it can to utilize every man it has available. The point of this event will be more about finding out how this team can utilize each individual and when.
"(This event has been going on) since about 1995 or earlier," Crusha said. "Not sure how it to came to be, (but it's designed) to give teams an opportunity to see live action against another team before the first game."
Because the Coyotes don't have nearly as many players as they'd like, avoiding injury is a real priority. As the host of this event last year that gave this team a little more comfort because it had the home field advantage, yet they still suffered several injuries that threw the season into a state of turmoil.
"It is a risky to put them out there, but it gets them prepared for the following week. The rules are each team gets 12 offense and 12 defensive plays against each team," said Crusha. "We start at the 40 yard line and go in. There are no special teams involved."
Even though that format might seem somewhat limiting, because of time it's the only way all four teams are able to face each other. That means squads will have to work on special teams on their own and some of the ones who don't will be quite obvious come the first several weeks of the regular season.