NEW ULM - ESPN has a television show called "Numbers Never Lie." That may well be the case for the New Ulm High School football team this season.
"We have just 15 guys in the upper class out for football," said senior Connor Forbrook, one of the 15 upperclassmen playing for the Eagles. "We have a lot of guys playing both ways. We will be using a lot of sophomores and freshmen this year. We can play with teams for most of the game but because of the numbers it gets tough in the second half."
This will also be the first year of the Big South Conference because the South Central Conference has been put to bed.
Forbrook believes that the strength of the Eagles this year will be the line of Wyatt Oelberg, Lorenzo Hernandez, Ryan O'Connell and Andrew Stewart with a fifth starter yet to be named.
"They are mostly seniors - we are looking for a tackle at the moment - but I think that we will fill that spot," Forbrook said. "Our front seven on defense for sure will be a strong point."
The Eagles lost quarterback Nate Glaubitz who moved to River Falls, Wis., which means that the quarerback spot is open. Sophomore Cooper Yackley will be the quarterback.
"He is smart for a sophomore - he makes great plays in practice," Forbrook said.
The lack of numbers is something that the team is trying to take control of.
"We are trying to put players where they feel comfortable," Hernandez said. "It is hard but we make it work. We like to call ourselves a family. We work well together and try to stay fundamentally strong and play good football."
Hernandez did not say where he thought the Eagles would finish in the Big South but did say that New Ulm will compete.
"The Big South is a new adventure for all of the teams," coach Tony Ortmann said. "It did not change our schedule too much, we still see a lot of the South Central teams. We get a nonconference game here with New Prague in our opening game and then we picked up games against Worthington and Marshall."
Ortmann said that the lack of numbers out for football is troubling.
"The more success that we have the more kids will come out for football," Ortmann said. "We are trying to get that enthusiasm back in football. Numbers are tough and in our senior and junior class our numbers are low but our numbers in the freshman and sophomore class are pretty good - we are at 20 per grade. Having low numbers in that junior and senior class will make things difficult so we need to be creative with the younger kids on the varsity level.
"We have one of the best senior classes to come through here, they are good leaders. There are only eight but all of them we are excited about what they can do."