FAIRBANKS-Yep you can use like quaint or little to describe the Monroe Rams football roster that's under 15. Some days just 12, 13, or 14 players are able to come to practice for a team that's in its seventh year. But they're used to it. They made the state semi-finals last year but this season has been tough for the Rams. They've already cancelled two games including what would've been this Saturday's opener against Homer. So just Greatland Conference games for the Rams. Head coach Bobby Pace, in his sixth season, feels good about his minute squad.
"Looks like a low enrollment for freshmen to rotate in. We're struggling, coming in with nothing to build off of," Pace said. "Last year we had an excellent freshman group so I'm glad they're here. They all got a lot of play time last year so you know we're coming with some young guys but they're experienced and we got a great senior class this year. Kind of going with quality not quantity."
Sophomore stong safety Brian Meyer enjoys playing with this small unit.
"I love being on this team," Meyer said. "We're really talented and we got very few players but they're all talented and they all work together. We're all just like a big family."
Conditioning and health are the top priority where virtually every player plays two positions. Senior wide receiver Scooter Bynum is fine with the small numbers.
"Shows your toughness that they're out here every day. Nobody has missed a practice yet. That's all about toughness. We got 12 guys. One sub. That's all you need," Bynum explained.
Fellow senior Michael Neville says certain conditioning routines are brutal but necessary.
"Definitely the worst ones is-coach has this thing called fourth quarter, where it changes every day but at the end of practice we either do wind sprints or bear crawls for awhile. A whole array of stuff and it's not fun but we got to understand that we need to do it. Small team, we definitely need to," said Neville.
Tyler Wells returns at quarterback. The senior feels the Rams' low numbers has created more leaders.
"It takes more guys to lead this team and the more guys we have that are stepping up every day then the better it will be," Well said.
The Rams will have more time to condition, polish fundamentals, and get plays and schemes down to a T. They open their season against the Seward Seahawks at home on Kiwanis Field on Saturday August 24 at 6pm.