When Mountain View Christian School plays Laughlin in its high school football season finale at 1 p.m. Thursday, it will have nine cheerleaders and 15 players.
Last week against The Meadows, the Saints had 14 players.
The week before that, against Calvary Chapel, they had 13. So did the Lions, at least when the game started. Three Lions were injured during the first half. At halftime, trailing 42-0, Calvary Chapel announced it was throwing in the towel on the remainder of its season.
On Thursday, the Saints go marching in with an extra player, as an academic situation has been rectified — academics are important at Mountain View, more important than football. So at practice Tuesday, one fewer tackling dummy had to be pulled from the equipment shed. When you have only 13 or 14 players, you can't go 11-on-11 at practice. You pull out tackling dummies to stand in for missing linemen.
Midway through Mountain View's practice, a German shepherd ran onto the field. This was Mila, coach Ray LeBoeuf's dog. LeBoeuf joked about making Mila a defensive back.
The reason Calvary Chapel had to forfeit its season, and why Mountain View soldiers on with scarce few reserves, is a new Nevada law, SB 302, that was passed to provide private school students with financial aid. To be eligible for the stipend, students first must attend public school for 100 days.
This explains why Mountain View has only 13 or 14 players, whereas last season it had 24. A lot of kids who attend Mountain View are not as well off as a lot of kids who attend Bishop Gorman, or The Meadows, or some of the other private schools. This explains why Gorman remains a national power, and why The Meadows suited up 31 players against Mountain View, and why Mountain View appeared to run out of gas late in the second quarter.
It's only a temporary thing, LeBoeuf said of the paucity of players, because many of his kids who transferred to public schools have indicated they will return to Mountain View after they qualify for these tuition grants, called education savings accounts (ESA).
In the long run, LeBoeuf said the new law should help smaller private schools such as Mountain View increase their enrollments.
In the short run, those who play football at Mountain View are Gordie Lockbaum.
Gordie Lockbaum finished third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy in 1987. He played running back at Holy Cross. And defensive back. And excelled on special teams.
None of the Mountain View players has heard of Gordie Lockbaum, the last great two-way football player, because that was before they were born. But Ray LeBoeuf has heard of him, because LeBoeuf grew up in New Hampshire, and Holy Cross is just down the road in Worcester, Mass.
Before SB 302 was passed, Mountain View had played in three of the past five NIAA Division III state championship games. LeBoeuf, who also is the Mountain View principal and basketball coach, showed a reporter newspaper clippings and lots of trophies in the gymnasium.
He said he is just as proud of this year's team, which has won two games and lost seven. His players never complain about being tired, or being injured, or being both. Or having to take college entrance exams the morning after a game.
"More than anything, they've accepted the role of being the bridge to our future," LeBoeuf said.
When I saw all those Meadows Mustangs standing on the sidelines, and just three Mountain View players, I thought their game might get ugly. It did not. The Meadows won 45-26, and it rested a lot of starters in the second half. But then it had to put some back in when plucky Mountain View kept scoring touchdowns.
A speedy kid named Bernard Williams scored the first one, on a long run in the second quarter. He came to the sidelines and threw up. LeBoeuf rested him for one play. OK, maybe it was two.
Before halftime, I spoke with Michelle Muehleisen, who teaches fifth and sixth grade at Mountain View, and whose son, Paul, is one of Ray LeBoeuf's Gordie Lockbaums. He wears No. 66 and stands 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs around 175, or at least did when the season started.
When I asked if her son complains about having to play both ways and never getting a break, she said he's usually too tired to complain. She said he had to take his ACTs on Saturday morning.
On Friday night, Paul Muehleisen laid his head on his helmet and stretched out on the grass next to the dugout of the baseball diamond on the pristine campus at The Meadows as Ray LeBoeuf made halftime adjustments. The Mountain View players sucked on orange slices, and it was a long halftime. Before long, there were orange slices scattered all over foul territory.
Eventually, one of the zebras came over to notify LeBoeuf the second half would begin in three minutes. The Mountain View players buckled their chinstraps.
They wearily trudged up the steps to the football field, all except one, No. 62, Nathan Santiago. Santiago collected the discarded orange slices and scraps of athletic tape and other refuse that had accumulated on the grass by the dugout during halftime and put it into ziplock bags so it could be deposited in the trash.
There may not be a whole lot of 'em, but you could tell right away the Mountain View kids were well coached.