In the end, the numbers finally caught up with the Rector Cougars.
Faced with a dwindling number of players, Rector High School announced Aug. 20 that it would not field a senior high football team for the upcoming season.
This marks the first time since the early 70s that the Cougars will be absent from the gridiron. However, with plenty of players for junior high, the junior Cougars will compete as scheduled with coach Wade Williams at the helm.
According to Rector Superintendent Rob Louder, this should be a temporary course of action.
"Our plan is to have a full season of football next year," he said. "We should be competitive in junior high this year, and when those kids move up next year we should have a regular senior high team."
Rector joins Parkin and Turrell in becoming the third 3AA Conference school to drop out of football this season.
A number of factors including moveoffs, academic woes and injuries trimmed the Cougar roster from 26 players in the spring down to just 10 at the start of the new school year.
"It was just a numbers thing. We had a couple of kids get hurt in the spring, and a couple moved off and then we had some academically ineligible players. Obviously you can't have a football team with just 10 players," said Louder.
The Cougars have struggled with having enough players to staff their senior-high roster the past several years, part of the reason Rector is just 7-23, including a 1-9 finish last season, the past three years.
"I've been here 27 years, and it seems like we do struggle with numbers sometimes. It's not a new phenomenon.We had a spell in the 80s where we had good numbers, but I expect this to be a one-year deal. We're not dropping football, we're just canceling our senior-high season," Louder said.
So where does this leave the rest of the 3AA Conference members?
"I really don't expect to make up the game," said Salem Head Coach Wayne Guiltner. "If we'd had more time, we might have tried to fill the spot, but this is kind of last-minute."