Foxes prepared to battle despite lack of numbers

Beau Bearden
bbearden@gannett.com

It’s never easy to deal with a decline in athletes, especially in a physically demanding sport such as football. That doesn’t mean the Fox High School football team is making excuses as longtime head coach Brent Phelps knows he still has a job to do. 

“We lost four or five seniors, but we’re only going to suit up possibly 10-12,” Phelps said. “Our numbers are way down. The kids come out to play and they want to be the best they can be. It doesn’t matter if you have 40 kids or if you have 10 kids, you have to coach them with the same intensity and level. And demand the same thing out of them.” 

Depth issues aside, the Foxes still have something going for them this season. 

“I think our strength is our overall team quickness,” Phelps said. “We’re going to be pretty quick. We have some pretty good speed. No flashes, but faster than average, faster than normal.” 

One of those athletes will be senior Hawk Anderson, who is moving to quarterback and is expected to have a breakout year. 

“Hawk throws well, but we’ve had to work on some mechanics with him a little bit,” Phelps said. “He’s got great speed. He’s not very big, but I think he can have a stellar year if he utilizes the gifts God has given him.” 

Robert Davis is another athlete who Phelps believes can make an impact this season. The senior is moving from the offensive line to tight end and will also change to linebacker on defense.  

“(Davis’) a strong kid, he has good feet and good quickness,” Phelps said. 

Even with Fox’s overall quickness, the issue of depth comes back to the forefront.  

“The thing with the low numbers that you have to watch for is injuries because you don’t have the backups to go in,” Phelps said. “The second thing is there is a large amount of motivation that goes to a player knowing that he has a player behind him pushing him to get his spot. When you don’t have that, sometimes the motivation to excel isn’t as great. So we have to be creative and find ways to create that motivation.” 

That shouldn’t be an issue for Phelps and his staff, as they know the stability in the program helps make that easier. However, he won’t lean on past experience. 

“We, as coaches, change throughout our careers as we go,” Phelps said. “You adapt to the type of kids you have because I can’t coach this group of kids the same way as I coached kids 15 years ago. It’s a totally different breed of animal.” 

The Foxes will likely adapt to Phelps and the coaching staff when they take the field for the first time on the road against Maud at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 4 

That contest is no doubt important, but Fox is circling two district matchups on the calendar.  

“The team to beat in our district is Mountain View-Gotebo,” Phelps said. “They were the district champion last year and they didn’t lose a lot. Maysville will be next.”