California football coach Brady Barbero expects sophomore quarterback Malik Jackson, who injured his throwing shoulder during Friday's 54-6 loss at Clairton, to start Friday against Bishop Canevin.
I called Barbero today, and he said that it turned out to be only a bruise, that Jackson practiced yesterday and will practice again today.
Good thing, too, because California's numbers have been down a bit this season: The Trojans entered camp with 30 players, about 10 fewer than normal, the coach said. And because of injuries Friday night, that number has dipped into the low 20s.
Fortunately, though, Barbero does expect some quick recoveries and to have around 26 or 27 kids Friday night.
"It makes it tough," Barbero said. "But as long as I've been here, we've had years like this. You learn to deal with it. The good thing is that you can get the young kids more reps quickly. But it also sometimes hurts with the JV because you don't have enough kids there."
This, unfortunately, has been a theme around the WPIAL. Vincentian beat Geibel, 62-8, this past Saturday, and the teams combined for a whopping total of 29 players, according to the Uniontown Herald-Standard.
Quick sidenote: Pay attention to this. Geibel's coach already quit, and they had to forfeit the first two games of the season, handing wins to Frazier and Beth-Center.
The low enrollments for both of these programs is notable because they're on every team in the Tri-County South's schedule. And if one would fold, that could create an uneven (if you ask coaches, unwanted) schedule of bye weeks. Who's rested, who isn't, who had their momentum stopped, etc.
OK, back to the Trojans, who went 7-3 last year and reached the WPIAL Class A playoffs, but have struggled to an 0-3 start so far.
Gone are eight offensive starters, including four offensive lineman and quarterback T.D. Conway, who threw for 825 yards and 10 touchdowns. Jackson spent a lot of time learning from Conway, but the fact remains that he, like a lot of California's team, is very young and gaining experience.
"He's still making some rookie mistakes, but he's learning from them," Barbero said. "He's getting better every week. He got to be behind Conway and learned a lot as a freshman."