MERCED — It's that time of year for Bob Casey.
His Merced College football team is almost at the season's midway point and the injuries are starting to mount.
It's part of the attrition that all college football teams have to endure over the course of a season, but Casey acknowledged the Blue Devils' injury bug has been a little more pronounced this season.
MC had five players exit last week's 41-28 loss to Feather River, with a pair going to the hospital for head injuries. That brought to 15 the number of Blue Devils unable to suit up including their top three quarterbacks. Several have been lost for the season.
The defense has been hit particularly hard, with defensive coordinator Justin Pinasco down to 22 healthy bodies.
"We could be suiting up 75 or 76 guys right now instead of the 61 we finished up Feather River with," Casey said. "There's no doubt that every single one of them would be making an impact on this team.
"I give Coach Pinasco and Nails a lot of credit for continuing to shift guys around and fill in holes that have given us a chance to be competitive every week."
Adding insult to injuries, the Blue Devils (1-3) have had little time to recover with a Friday night game at Diablo Valley College (0-4). Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
Starting quarterback Javon Smith was walking much better on his injured ankle, but remains questionable.
The short week also means backups Travis Middleton and Eric Stokes have had very little time to recover from probable concussions suffered last week. That leaves wide receiver Trunell McMillon preparing for the possibility of his first career start under center.
"The good thing about Trunell is we won't have to change much in what we do," Casey said. "He throws well and has always had the ability to run the ball.
"He's a receiver that's been in the program for three years, so he knows the routes. It's just a matter of getting used to his reads."
Should McMillon start, MC is hoping he and the offense can build upon the two scores they produced in the fourth quarter last week.
The Blue Devil defense will hope to limit the big plays that have plagued them this season. Fortunately, DVC hasn't produced that many big plays so far.
MC forced five turnovers and had six sacks a week ago, yet still yielded almost 600 yards and 41 points.
"You look at the turnovers and sacks and would think we had a pretty good day," Pinasco said. "We had them a number of times at third-and-20 and would give up a huge play.
"If we can takes a few of those away, we'll be right in every game."
Sun-Star sports writer Sean Lynch can be reached at (209) 385-2476 or firstname.lastname@example.org.