High school football is a week away and the early start to the season seems to be affecting the numbers of players schools have to use. In mid Michigan, Okemos, Everett and Sexton do not have junior varsity teams this fall. Others don't have freshmen teams. Waverly will play Everett and let the JV players suit up for the varsity game-- there's no where else the Waverly JV's can play.
St. Johns coach Dave Mariage tells me his freshmen group of 25 is the lowest he can remember. And he says he'll likely lose ten of those players after the season who will not return as sophomores.
August is a month many ninth graders want to use for more vacation-- not spend in heat in two a day practices. That seems to be a factor. So does pay to play. So does the lure of other sports like soccer. So do other activities. Football in mid Michigan simply does not have the same number of players it has had in years past and there are likely all the above reasons and more for the lower turnout.
And it affects fans too. Haslett opens at East Lansing but officials do not expect a capacity crowd even if the weather is perfect. It's a rivalry game but two high school games before Labor Day don't fire people up -- school not in session is a big factor for many to stay away for the final throes of vacation.