BY ED WRIGHT
Aug. 14, 2010, 11:15 a.m.
Routine practice rituals like intra-squad scrimmages are anything but routine for Plymouth Christian Academy's first MHSAA football team.
"Let's just say we have to use some creative thinking and try some unorthodox things," said Eagles head coach Mike Rumschlag, smiling.
Rumschlag's creativity is tested because PCA's first-year roster includes just 15 players. Due to injuries and vacations, the Eagles practiced with as few as 10 players one day this week.
"When we went to a live scrimmage, we used half of a defensive front, a linebacker and a cornerback and we ran to that side," said Rumschlag, who served as an assistant coach for PCA's Christian Football League squad last fall after several years of coaching in Ohio. "We're definitely at a disadvantage not having enough guys to scrimmage, but the players we do have are working hard to get better."
The team PCA fielded the past two falls practiced on the Plymouth Christian Academy practice field, but consisted of players from throughout the metropolitan-Detroit area.
This year, as a full-fledged MHSAA Division 8 program, the Eagles are limited to Plymouth Christian students.
"We had a meeting this past spring at the school, and 25 kids signed up and showed interest in playing," said Rumschlag. "We have 15 on the roster now, but there are still five to seven kids who are thinking about playing. Plus we're trying to recruit some kids on the soccer team to try to play both sports.
"Eventually, the program will grow once people in the community know we have a football team here. It should help enrollment at the school."
Team spirit is soaring among the current players, said junior lineman Eric Jipping.
"Now that we're playing for our school and it's just Plymouth Christian students, there's really a feeling of school pride," said Jipping. "Last year, we had players from all over, so it wasn't the same."
"There's really a strong sense of brotherhood on this team, both on the field and off," said two-way back Dillon Rahill. "I'm really looking forward to this season because our competition will be a lot better."
The team's small roster will demand most players to go both ways - a fact of life that increased the degree of conditioning at this week's two-a-day practice sessions.
"We're probably running a little bit more than the players would like," Rumschlag said, "but they're working really hard. They did a great job in the off-season, too, getting in shape."
"We understand we're going to have to be ironmen this season," Rahill said. "That's why we're working so hard now."
For a complete season preview on the Eagles - and comprehensive coverage throughout the season - please continue to visit PlymouthCantonSports.com.
Ed Wright can be reached at (734) 453-1980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.