Ridgewood coach Kent Reed joked Tuesday that he felt like a politician during school registration as he shook hands, introduced himself to students and did everything but hold an enormous sign asking students to join the football team.
"Our numbers being so low, I've got to do whatever I can," Reed said.
The Rams have had 19 varsity players and 12 junior varsity players at recent practices, but Reed said he expects JV numbers to increase when school starts next week. Ridgewood had a combined 75 players on the varsity and JV rosters last year.
"I'm not in panic mode," Reed said.
Neither, Reed said, is the team.
Quarterback Bobby Peck is back under center after injuries wrecked his junior season. Reed said Peck looks sharp and has become the vocal leader the Rams need as they battle low participation.
"With the low numbers right now, he's doing a good job of keeping the morale of the team up," Reed said.
Reed said two other players have stood out during practice - running back/safety Tyler Vito and linebacker T.J. Petrizzi.
Vito's rushes will be a key part of the Rams' offense this fall, while Petrizzi was recently named the Rams' defensive captain, despite a 5-foot-9, 175-pound frame.
"He's small in frame," Reed said, "but makes up for it in heart and effort."