OAKWOOD — New Johnson football coach William Harrell is shouting across Oakwood "just give us a chance."
Harrell led his new football team into the first week of conditioning on Monday. It also was the first time both the players and coaches met in person.
Harrell was hired to replace Stan Luttrell during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown earlier this spring. He didn't get the opportunity to recruit the hallways. He didn't get the chance to speak to his current players in person -- only through online video conference meetings.
Coupled with a large graduating class and current low turnout, Harrell is faced with a numbers problem -- 22 players to be exact.
"We definitely need to get more numbers," he said. "We either have to replace those graduates with incoming ninth-graders or kids in the building. And it's hard to get those kids in the building out to play when I haven't had a chance to meet them. It's a difficult situation."
Harrell said he's going to allow underclassmen to come out in August, but would rather have anyone that's thinking about playing at Johnson as soon as possible.
"It's a new situation at Johnson," he said. "Just give us a shot and come on out now. If you don't like it, you don't have to come back again. The biggest thing I want to say is just give it a shot. But if you're going to try it out, you need to do it in June so you can get in shape. If you come out in August, you're not going to be a priority for us because you'll be behind."