The numbers may be down, but the attitude is up.

For the past two weeks, the Destin Middle School Marlin football team has been on the practice field in the morning for two and a half hours, five days a week.

“We’re at 21 (players this season). It’s a little less than I’d like, but they show up every day with good attitudes,” said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan.

Last year the Marlins had 26 on the roster, so the numbers are a bit down.

“We’re trying to build a culture here with a work ethic, commitment to each other and a team concept," Hinterthan said. “And if I don’t have 21 coming to practice every single day and working hard then we’re not making progress."

The Marlins have developed a theme for the season — “Together we stand, divided we fall, all for one, one for all,” coach said.

Before they hit the practice field two weeks ago, the Marlins began their football season back at the beginning of summer spending two to two and a half hours each day in the weight room.

“We had a pretty good summer,” Hinterthan said. “They show up each day for each other. So so far I’m pleased.”

The strength of the team thus far appears to be their versatility.

“We’re very versatile and spread out,” coach said. “Right now, I’m trying to figure out what we can’t do well.”

Although Hinterthan has more than 25 years of coaching football, this is his first year as head coach at Destin Middle School and his first year of coaching middle school.

“My experience is at higher levels,” he said.

Thus he’s coaching them up like a high school team.

The Marlins will be running a New England-style pro set, plus they have five secondary coverages. They will also be running a 3-3-5 defense, which they can move around in, plus a goal-line defense.

“I’m running the team like I’m still a high school head coach,” Hinterthan said. “My goal is to get these guys prepared for high school. So when they leave here they should understand technique, they should understand secondary coverage and blocking assignments.”

The Marlins will also be working on kicking extra points as well as field goals.

“We’re going to try and play the game like they’ll play at the next level," Hinterthan said. "Hopefully we’ll prepare them well.

“We’re not the biggest, strongest and we’re not the fastest. But we’ve got 21 kids that are going to have to work together to win some games,” Hinterthan added.

The Marlins will get their first chance to show what they have in a middle school jamboree on Aug. 10 at Fort Walton Beach High School against Pryor Middle School.