Saturday, March 25, 2017

BHS: Eight Man Football

At March’s School Board meeting, AD Mrs. Tammy Tillman outlined the path BHS will tread if they decide to explore switching to eight-man football.

In addition, Coaches Jacob Martin and Randy McKibbon voiced their opinions.

This year, according to Tillman, twelve more Nebraska small schools will switch from eleven man to eight-man football; they’ll join the ranks of the Western Nebraska small schools who’ve already switched.

The reasons schools change include declining enrollments, declining numbers of students who play football, and expenses, like traveling many miles to play games. (Because fewer small schools play eleven-man football, Bayard travels to the Valentines and Cambridge’s for games; they’re far away and not exactly Bayard-type small schools.)   

Safety on the field is another factor. When small schools play larger ones, players from smaller schools play most the game, and they tire. However, bigger schools have more players and stay fresher through substitution.

Tiredness leads to slower reflexes and lack of attentiveness, thus more chances for injury.
Furthermore, smaller schools lose their competitive edge because they’re often blown away when they play a larger school. It doesn’t take many blowouts until, like a dangling chinstrap, a smaller schools team attitude droops.

When Coaches Martin and McKibbon spoke, they both said they want to do what’s best for Bayard’s athletes, whether that means remaining an eleven-man team, or playing eight-man.

Switching to eight-man football begins by applying to Nebraska’s State High School Department of Athletics. In the application the school gives their student enrolment and, for scheduling purposes, when they want to make the change.  

The State Athletic Department schedules all Nebraska’s high school football games, regardless of class. They schedule in two year increments, one year “team A” plays “team B” at home; the next year “team A” travels to “team B’s” home.

The schedule includes date and times for all games.

If, between the first and second year of their football schedule, a school switches the type of football they play, they’ll forfeit all games scheduled for the next year. They’ll play no football games that year unless the school schedules Junior Varsity games, which is tough because most athletic schedules are complete.  

(At the present time, Bayard’s just finished the first year of their two-year mandated schedule. If they switched now they’d forfeit next year’s games.)

In addition, if the State Athletic Department grants the schools request, the dimensions for an eight-man football field are smaller than an eleven-man field; the changes must be made before any eight-man games are played.  

Once again, your Bayard’s Tigers changing to eight-man football is only in the thought, discussion, and exploratory stages, and a decision is not imminent. Your Transcript will pass along information as it becomes available.

(By the way, in high school, back when I could bend both knees, I played eight-man football. It’s fast, explosive, high scoring and spectator friendly.)   

Thank you for your patience and continued support of Tiger athletics.     

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