TITUSVILLE – When Randy Hallock came to Astronaut High in the late 1990s, the enrollment was more than 1,800 students. As head football coach, he went on to lead the War Eagles to a state final in 1999, and the program has been a common playoff qualifier.
With changes at the Kennedy Space Center, population has shifted in Brevard County, and the school has begun to feel the effects. Enrollment will be down around 1,100 or lower this year, and when the War Eagles practiced on Wednesday, there were 29 players in practice gear.
Hallock said the varsity roster will be about 35 if some injuries can be overcome and some players still vacationing report, but that’s at least 10 down from normal.
“This is the lowest we’ve ever had since I became head coach here,” he said. “You lose 800 kids in the school, and 400 of them are boys, then that’s a big difference.”
Conditioning isn’t a new thing to the War Eagles, but there has had to be a greater emphasis considering the numbers situation, which has, in turn, affected depth. It was visible in the pace of practice.
“That’s what we’re doing,” Hallock said. “We’re going to be in great shape, and we’re going to have to avoid injuries. The talent is there.”
Seven of the players Hallock listed as shaping up to be major contributors are seniors, a mix of skill position players and linemen.
“I think we’ve got pretty decent depth on the offensive and defensive line,” he said. “We may be thin at running back and linebacker right now. Wide receiver and defensive back is pretty solid, but like I said, we’re just an injury away.”
Among the challenges for the War Eagles is the state of its district affiliation. When the current alignment of Class 5A, District 12 was instituted last year, Hallock compared the competitiveness to that of the Southeastern Conference. In addition to Astronaut’s playoff history, the grouping includes former state champions Merritt Island, Palm Bay, Rockledge and Titusville.
However much improvement the War Eagles make this year as they seek to rebound from missing the last two playoff seasons, the schedule difficulty may not allow much upward movement in the overall record.
Still, there is a standard for measuring success.
“I think if you come and watch us play and you see 11 guys on the field that are always hustling, people who know football will recognize that,” Hallock said. “We weren’t very disciplined last year, and that will be success if you can see that, too.”
Contact McCallum at 321-242-3698 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow high school sports news on Twitter @321preps.
FLORIDA TODAY takes a look at each football team around the county, profiling a different one each day. Sunday: Bayside.
Meet the Players
Sr., OG/DT, 6-0, 230
Favorite pro sports team: San Francisco 49ers
Dream job: Travel nurse
Teammate he’d most like to trade places with: Any running back. That would be so exciting.
Go-to fast food item: Chik-fil-A nuggets
Pre-game pump-up music: Eye of the Tiger
2014 War Eagles Schedule
Aug. 29 at Mt. Dora 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 at St. Cloud 7:30
Sept. 12 Cocoa 7
Sept. 19 at Merritt Island 7
Sept. 26 at Viera 7
Oct. 3 Rockledge 7
Oct. 16 Palm Bay 7
Oct. 24 Satellite 7
Oct. 31 at Titusville 7
Nov. 7 Melbourne 7