Mellen football

After playing just two games in fall 2021, the Mellen Granite Diggers 8-person football team returns with a full schedule of games this season. Mellen has a host of returning players but, with its small enrollment, the program will struggle to fill its roster and maintain depth at each position, according to its coach. (Contributed photo)

While Bay-Area eight-person football teams in Washburn and South Shore plunge ahead for a second full season of post-pandemic games, their counterpart to the south, the Mellen Granite Diggers, are coming back after playing just two games in 2021. Despite the lack of competition last season, the ‘Diggers will still field an experienced team — though one short on numbers, Head Coach Tom Zakovec said.

“Our lack of number of athletes, and our overall team size, are always our biggest concerns,” the coach said. “With the lack of numbers it’s very hard to do eight-on-eight practices, so we have to be very creative to accomplish what we need to do to get ready for games. Our contact drills sometimes have to be cut short just for the fact we can’t afford to lose anyone to injury. As far as lack of size, it can be very intimidating to the kids. Getting them to overcome that can be quite a challenge.”

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