Eight-Man Football

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Ridge and Valley Conference 

considering eight-man football

By Ted Pennekamp


The eight schools of the Ridge and Valley Conference will be considering whether or not to have 8-man football in the near future. The subject is expected to be on the agendas of upcoming school board meetings throughout the conference. 

The Wauzeka-Steuben School Board voted in December to have 8-man football for the 2019-2020 school year, only if at least five other schools in the conference have 8-man football as well, said District Administrator Robert Sailer. 

The schools that make up the Ridge and Valley Conference have relatively small enrollments and some have struggled in recent years with low numbers of players for football.

Wauzeka-Steuben and Seneca have had a combined football team for the past two seasons due to low numbers of players. The team splits its home games between Seneca and Wauzeka and the team’s name is the Seneca/Wauzeka-Steuben Blue-Golds. 

In 2013, Seneca went to a junior varsity football team only, due to a lack of juniors and seniors that season.

Eight-man football was an item on the Seneca School Board agenda scheduled for Jan. 16, but the meeting was postponed due to icy road conditions. Superintendent David Boland said 8-man football will be discussed at the Jan. 30 School Board meeting.

The North Crawford School District is expected to discuss the matter during its meeting on Jan. 23.

Other area school districts have had difficulty fielding varsity teams over the years. The Boscobel School District didn’t have a varsity team for a season several years ago, and then revived the program. Last year, Cassville High School had to forfeit all of its varsity games because it couldn’t put enough players on the field. Cassville should again be able to offer football next season, however, because a cooperative program with Potosi has been approved by the Potosi and Cassville school boards as well as administrators from the schools in the Six Rivers Conference. The cooperative team still needs to be approved by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s Board of Control at its meeting in February.

For schools with low numbers of potential football players, 8-man football can be an interesting option. One potential problem in Southwestern Wisconsin would be a lack of other schools with 8-man teams. Traveling very long distances for games is considered not practical.

But, 8-man football is often an exciting, wide open, high-scoring brand of football. Eight-man football has gained popularity with small schools across the United States. As of 2015, 1,561 schools in 30 states sponsor reduced-player football, with 1,161 of those teams participating in 8-man leagues.

Eight-man football often has a field width of 40 yards; 13 ⅓ yards narrower than the 53 ⅓-yard, 11-man field. Most states continue to play on a 100-yard length field, whereas a few states opt for 80-yard lengths.

There are 30, 8-man high school football teams in Wisconsin. Conferences include the Lakeland 8-man, the Great 8-North, the Great 8-South, and the Independent Conference.

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