Football, like most other competitive sports, is a numbers game.
Will Doggett understands this, as any veteran coach would. However, it’s not necessarily the numbers on the scoreboard or stat sheet that has the Frankford head coach’s mind wandering. Instead, it’s a different kind of number, one that could directly impact those figures Frankford can put up on offense.
“We’re not as deep because we don’t have the usual amount of guys coming out given all that’s happened within the school district,” said Doggett, referring to the district’s financial woes that have left the future of sports in the Public League cloudy. “Usually, I have about 60 kids that submit for physicals with 45 to 50 showing up. This year, those numbers have been more like 45 and 30 to 35.
“This crap going on has killed my numbers. I’ve been here 12 years and I’ve never had less than 50 kids to open a season. Not only that, but it’s really done a number on the kids, psychologically. It’s something the Public League will just have to deal with all season.”
In a Friday morning scrimmage against Imhotep, Doggett saw how challenging this season could be when calculating how to carefully rotate his players into the game to keep them as fresh as possible. Already beset by injuries to the offensive line, Doggett had no choice but to leave his first-unit linemen out there even after Imhotep had sent their second string defense onto the field.
“Because we aren’t that deep on the line, I didn’t have a choice,” he said. “All in all, I thought the first-stringers did a great job against a very well-coached team with massive numbers.”
Doggett paused, then offered some humor to show that he’s taking the transition in stride.
“I think they (Imhotep) had about a dozen linemen over 300 pounds … I told them, ‘Man, give me six of those guys and you can have the other six,’” he said with a laugh.
If Doggett doesn’t seem panicky, it’s because he’s not. After all, in his two seasons as head coach, the Pioneers have posted a 17-6 record, which included a Public League title in 2012. Doggett and his staff know how to evaluate talent, and they know how to win together.
On the flip side, Frankford has a considerable amount of talent to make up for, with all eyes likely being on the starting quarterback position. Now that record-setting quarterback Tim DiGiorgio and his 4,061 career passing yards (second most in league history) has graduated, it may take some time for followers of the program to get accustomed to someone new under center.
The man for the job is senior Marquise Poston, DiGiorgio’s former backup. When DiGiorgio had a knee injury in 2012, Poston stepped up to complete 10 of his 15 passes for 146 yards and two TDs. In the scrimmage against Imhotep, Poston unfurled a beautiful pass that threaded the needle between two defenders, hitting receiver Wydell Compton in stride into the end zone for a touchdown.
“Marquise has a strong arm and is extremely intelligent,” Doggett said. “He’s more of a defensive-minded player, but he picks stuff up quick. If we’re implementing something new, he’s the first guy who gets it right. He has a very high football IQ.”
Another player to watch is running back Damion Samuels, who emerged as a junior in rushing for 692 yards and 12 TDs in 2012. He will have a much bigger role in the offense this season, and appeared to be in fantastic shape against Imhotep.
“He’s going to be very special this season,” Doggett said. “He got a little upset with me when I took him out. He kept asking, ‘Can I get back in? Can I get back in?’ I had to tell him to sit down and take a chill pill because we don’t want to get him hurt. The great thing about him is that he always wants to be out there.”
Other key returners are talented linemen Kadar Jones and Unique Davis, as well as two-way player Quinton Ellis, the team’s No. 2 rusher a season ago.
Frankford will open its season Saturday afternoon against Downingtown East, a team Doggett expects to present a challenge, mainly due to — surprise, surprise — its overall numbers.
“Downingtown East, I think they’re beatable, but that’s another team that will have about 75 to 80 kids,” Doggett told his team after the Imhotep scrimmage. “We’ve got what we got. We did a good job, but there’s a lot of work left to do.” ••