Michael Konopasek, News 9
WELLSTON, Oklahoma – Players and coaches are doing their best in order to save a football team.
A record number of students have taken interest in football at Wellston High School, which means there isn't enough equipment to go around.
Wellston's head coach says it's a good problem to have. He's thrilled that 77 players are on the field this year, but the large numbers are creating some unexpected challenges.
"We're here," coach Fred Peery said. "We're not going to quit."
Even though there aren't enough jerseys and helmets, the students have a strong passion for the game which has brought new life to the football program.
"When I took the job I was told there would probably only [be] 14 kids [for varsity]," Peery said. "For junior high, I was told we probably wouldn't even have a team."
To Peery's surprise, about a quarter of the school's population hit the roster, and that's the problem. The cash-strapped district is not able to afford equipment for each player.
"[Players will] just have to sit on the fence and watch cause there's just not enough [equipment]," sophomore varsity player Joel Williams said.
For now, players are left trading off equipment just to make due. Williams is using a helmet that's so small it hurts his head , but it's all he has.
"We are in need," Peery said. "We're in need of helmets, we're missing shoulder pads. We're needing to get game jerseys …"
And they'll need those jerseys fast. The Tigers' first scrimmage for the season is Friday, August 19, and with more people on the team, they're expecting more fans in school's modest stands. The team is left hoping those fans and community will help.
"[The players] need to know that somebody cares," Peery said.
The players agree.
"We really do need [help]," Williams said. "We've got a lot of guys out here with a lot of heart and they want to play too."
A football helmet would cost the team $225 each and jerseys cost about $100 each.