Football fans can be traditionalists.
Any other type of football that deviates from anything other than football played with no more or less than 22 men on a field measured exactly 120 by 53 yards is not “real” football.
Even at the professional level, leagues like the Canadian Football League and the various Arena Leagues get almost no respect even in the most football crazed parts of the country.
Along with this thinking, some people like to dismiss the most extreme version of high school football that cuts the player count almost in half, six-man football. In Montague County, Forestburg, Saint Jo and Gold-Burg play this brand of football at the high school level.
Played by necessity in school districts where the enrollment sometimes numbers less than a full 6A teams roster, this brand of football deviates more than the professional league off-shoots even more from the traditional 11-man.
Scores often look like basketball scores. The field is 80 by 40 yards. Everyone on the field is eligible to catch a pass. First downs are 15 yards instead of 10.
The person receiving the snap, who the quarterback would be in 11-man, cannot throw or run the ball. They must pitch, hand or throw it to someone behind the line of scrimmage who can. Field goals are worth four points due to the difficulty of getting a kick off with so few blockers.
With this in mind, extra points after touchdowns are flipped where a score from the two-yard line is worth one point and the kick is two. There is a 45 point slaughter rule.
With so much open space touchdowns are not a hope for every drive, but are expected. Defense comes down to not shutting a team down like what is expected out of most defensive units in 11-man, but coming up with a turnover here or a couple of crucial stops throughout the game. If a team’s offense does not make mistakes, they should score every drive.
With this expectation, field position is almost meaningless except for certain situation, rendering the act of punting almost useless.
“I think we punted about seven times total last year,” Saint Jo Coach Derek Schlieve said.
This has some teams thinking in some extreme ways that would almost never fly in 11-man football.
“Most teams will onside kick,” Schlieve said. “I think we onside kicked almost every time last year.”
With shorter rosters and kids playing most of the game with few breaks, the kids who play 6-man football are trained a little differently than usual 11-man football players.
“You have to be in way better shape, in my opinion,” Forestburg Coach Kyler Roach said. “I never played 11-man, but I’ve had some people I knew who came from an eight-man or 11-man school and they said it was the most running they had ever done in their life transitioning to six-man.” With so much space, tackling is even more at a premium since one missed tackle can be a catastrophe.
“It’s just a faster game,” Roach said. “You have to make very quick decisions and it’s a lot of one-on-one tackling. If you are a corner or safety and you miss then it’s a touchdown.”
This means every kid on the field will be counted on and tested on defense during a game.
“In 11-man football, you can kind of hide a weaker athlete in your scheme,” Gold-Burg Coach Gordon Williams said. “You can get your best players to the ball all the time. In six-man, it’s hard to get your best kids to the ball all the time. You may have to rely on a kid who is not a great open field tackler and he will be put in a spot where he has to be.”
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the mid-week edition of the Bowie News.