Eight-man football under discussion with the IHSAA

(photo supplied / Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation)

There are many high schools in Indiana affiliated with the IHSAA that do not offer football as a sport for student-athletes.

It could be for a variety of reasons why a school in Indiana might not offer football whether it be a lack in the number of interested students or a lack of financial wherewithal to be able to support a team.

Assistant Commissioner of the IHSAA Robert Faulkens said many football coaches have gotten together with the association to begin an inquiry into the feasibility of offering eight-man football as an option for some schools.

“Currently we have 89 of our 410 members schools that don’t play football,” Faulkens said. “Of those 89 schools, 32 have said they would be interested in starting eight-man football.”

The premise of eight-man football is pretty self-explanatory. You simply play football as normal with eight players on each side of the ball instead of eleven. Teams also play on a smaller field than the traditional 120-yard field, including the end zones.

Faulkens said the possibility of eight-man football would not just help schools that don’t play football at all get involved in the sport.

“During the course of the work of the coaches, they found that there are some schools that are currently playing eleven-man that are having trouble fielding teams because their numbers are down,” he added. “They don’t have the boys in school that they need.”

Faulkens said the topic of eight-man football is still only in the exploratory phase. He says if they association were able to get enough of a foothold for eight-man football in the state of Indiana that could eventually lead to the formation of a new state tournament for eight-man level schools.

He also doesn’t expect that an eight-man tournament would have any effect on the current classification system of the eleven-man system in place. For now, the first step, if they were to eventually fully pursue it, would be offering eight-man football to schools that don’t currently play football at all and then work their way up from there.