TAYLOR MADE: 8-MAN FOOTBALL IS HERE TO STAY
It's been about 50 years since New York played 8-man football, but now it's back. It's here to stay despite its resurrection being met with some resistance and criticism.
Most of the people I've talked to who oppose its return are arguing that 8-man "is not real football." I covered 6-man and 8-man in Colorado from 1996-2003 and 8-man is every bit as "real" as 11-man. It astonishes me that most of the nay-sayers have never even seen an 8-man game.
With the exception of a few minor changes, 8-man follows the same rules as the 11-man game. And the major differences are minimal.
• There are no tackles on the offensive line in 8-man and there is also one skill position missing - either a back or receiver depending on the type of offense a team is running. On the other side of the ball, the alignments vary based on the defensive set-up..
• They claim there's more scoring. I guess that depends on which teams you're talking about. Some teams score 70 points a game on a regular basis, but how is that different from 11-man? I covered numerous Tioga games from 2010-2014 where the Tigers could have easily scored 70 on several occasions (M-E and Chenango Forks could have done that on a regular basis also). And I've already covered two games this season where two of our teams (Owego & Newark Valley) probably could have reached 70 had the coaches kept the starters in.
• The field dimensions are smaller - 40 x 80 yards as compared to the 53 1/3 x 100 in 11 man. However, the home team in an 8-man game may choose to play on a 100-yard field.
The 8-man game is here to stay folks. Embrace it. While it won't experience growth like this every year, what started out with seven teams in 2017 has ballooned to 29 this season.
Last year, Section IV had just one team - Seton Catholic - participating in 8-man. This year, the Saints have no football program at all. However, representing the section in their stead will be Lansing, Newfield, Notre Dame, Oxford and Unadilla Valley.
With the loss of Seton, four other Class D schools going to 8-man (Lansing is Class C) and mergers over the past several years involving seven other Class D schools, Section IV's smallest ranks have dwindled down to 10 schools. That's half of what it once was.Section III has increased from four to 11 schools and has started a 12-team league that includes Tupper Lake out of Section X. Meanwhile, Section IV has combined with a trio of Section V schools to form an eight-team league. In Section IX, all seven Class D schools will be playing 8-man this season.
Almost all of the schools playing 8-man this fall have fewer than 25 players on their rosters. Unlike 11-man, which requires team to have 16 eligible players suited up, 8-man only needs 12.
It's time to accept the fact that 8-man is here to stay. Embrace the positive side. Without 8-man, several schools would not have football programs. Sure, they could merge with a neighboring school, but that's just not feasible in every situation.
The New York State Sportswriters Association released the first boys soccer and girls cross country rankings of the season earlier today.
I know some of you don't put a lot of faith in the rankings, or at least not in the early-going, but they do make a great conversation piece.
Among the lady harriers, two Tioga County teams have made the Class C rankings. Newark Valley debuts at No. 5 while Waverly shows up at No. 13.
On the boys pitch, Lansing out of the IAC is No. 1 in Class C.
To see all the rankings published by the NYSSWA, go to http://www.newyorksportswriters.org/rankings/index.shtml.
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