Is it really possible for a long, hot summer to turn into an even hotter fall?
I think it is, especially when it comes to high school football in Louisiana.
Consider these two seemingly opposite facts I discovered as I watched eight teams play jamborees in the span of two nights.
First, all the talk about heat indexes rising is more than just a conversation piece.
With temperatures in the upper 90s and heat indexes over 100 for what seems like weeks now, several coaches have told me this is the most grueling preseason they remember.
Second, several metro area schools have added a significant number of players to their respective programs in spite of the heat.
Last week I wrote about Dutchtown High having a class of 92 freshmen. Denham Springs, St. Amant, Zachary and Catholic High are other Class 5A schools that have large numbers that go to 120 or higher.
The growth in the number of players participating is not limited to the area’s large schools.
When Class 3A West Feliciana came running on the field for its Zachary Jamboree game against Denham Springs, some of the Saints were wearing blue helmets instead of the typical white helmets.
The West Feliciana roster included 79 names, a substantial increase from previous seasons.
Did a run to Class 3A semifinals a year ago fuel an increase for coach Robb Odom’s squad? I’d have to say yes.
When Robert Signater came to McKinley from Clinton High just a few years ago a varsity roster of between 40 and 50 players usually included some freshmen.
This season Signater has a varsity roster of 74 players and a total of 115 players in the program.
Because McKinley has moved back up to Class 5A from Class 4A, this numbers spike comes at an extremely appropriate time.
Like several other coaches, Signater has ordered new equipment to meet the growth spurt.
Workout plans have also been altered to handle the increased number of players.
Not all local schools are experiencing a numbers renaissance. Of course, numbers offer no guarantee of success once the regular season starts this week.
Still, the fact more teens have made the choice to play high school football amid all this heat and humidity is intriguing.
For years, critics have taken their shots at younger generations like this group, saying that video games have replaced participation in some sports.
I have no idea whether that is true or not. What I do know is that there are plenty of other obligations and activities that can pull a high school student away from athletics.
Could such increased numbers mean times are changing?
Or is it simply a shift in demographics through which more students move to some schools?
Regardless of the reason, having more players could lead to an even greater interest in high school football. Hopefully, having a friend or relative playing will get more fans in the stands.
And if all goes well for local teams this long, hot summer will indeed become a fall that is even hotter for reasons other than the temperatures outside.