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JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — While the number of Faith Academy football players might be small for an 11-man team, head coach Russ Roberts was keyed up about them.

The Flames began fall training camp Aug. 4.

“I got the 19 players I want,” he said, adding three more are expected. “I see 19 players excited about being here.”

The Flames went through their morning session without wearing helmets. By rule, players can’t put on full pads until going through five days of practice, but they can wear helmets.

Currently, the school is constructing permanent buildings, so the Flames did not have a place at 6 a.m. to properly fit helmets on players.

But that didn’t mean the Flames did not have solid workouts on the first day.

Senior quarterback Magnum Burcham, who worked with assistant coach Todd Still, was throwing passes to a handful of teammates.

Roberts worked with members of the secondary, while assistant coach Randy Denton conducted blocking drills with linemen.

Faith also went through punting and punt coverage drills.

“(The players) want to be here,” Roberts said. “They’re listening, and they’re intent. I like my coaching staff. They’re enthusiastic and excited.”

The coach said he realized some time ago his team might struggle with the number of players out for his sport.

“This is my toughest year at Faith, no doubt,” he said. “But tougher doesn’t mean unsuccessful. If all the linemen I have here today weren’t here, I’d be panicky. But I’m not. I’ve got some linemen. We’ve always had speed. We’ve always been a little faster than everyone else.”

Still, Roberts knows the opponents on the Flames’ schedule are not concerned about the challenges at Faith.

“It’s time to forget and play ball,” he said. “Faith Academy has a tradition of excellence and success all the way back to six-man football. In 2012, we upped the ante (by moving to 11-man). We stepped up, and, most importantly, the players stepped up. They’re doing everything I’m asking them to do. We have to build with what we have.”

The Flames begin the 2014 season by welcoming San Antonio St. Andrew’s at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 29 at Pony Stadium on the Marble Falls Middle School campus, 1511 Pony Circle Drive.

jfierro@thepicayune.com