CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There's a question every high school football coach gets asked on the first day of preseason practice that confounds Jon Carpenter.
How many kids do you have out for the team this year?
For record, Capital - coming off a 7-4 season in which it started underclassmen at 21 of 22 positions on offense and defense - had 53 players at Laidley Field for two practice sessions to open the 2013 season Monday.
"Some guys wonder what I'm doing wrong if we don't have 100 guys out here," Carpenter said. "I don't get to give them a gun. It's not like the army. You don't need 100 players if the players you have can play."
Beginning his fourth year as the Cougars' coach, Carpenter said that four players would join the team later, when they return from family vacations.
Also key is the ability of players to practice. In order to have that freedom, players must have a completed physical. Some programs across the state struggle to have all their players ready for action on Day 1 of the preseason, but Carpenter said his entire team had been cleared to play.
Students return to school Friday in Kanawha County. Teachers, meanwhile, return to work today, eliminating the ability of teams from traditional two-a-day August practice schedules. With the decreased amount of time teams in the county get to spend in preparation for the regular season, the importance of players' ability to start is heightened, Carpenter said.
"Doctor (James) Rosencrance was here this morning and gave physicals to anybody that still needed one," Carpenter said. "That kind of thing is huge. That's really great, that he would come down here and do that for us."
Carpenter noted that he intends to use some of the two-platoon methods used at Cabell Midland a year ago.
"Most of the kids who are here, you're going to see on the field," Carpenter said. "Kids know that if they come to Capital they're going to play. There's a group of freshmen that are going to going to play for us this year.
"I think that's the best way to build your program. You have a hundred guys out and either they're not all getting coached, or your program's not very hard. The kids who are here know playing football's tough, and they can take it."
Capital opens its regular season at home against Riverside on Sept. 6.
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STEVE EDWARDS JR. found himself in possession of a new job description Monday morning.
For the first time since 2008, the George Washington High School football coach and his team began preseason practices without Ryan Switzer or Dustin Crouser penciled in to their starting lineups.
"We're looking forward to it. It's quite inviting. You're looking for new guys to step up," Edwards said between practice sessions Monday afternoon.