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Guest Sports Commentary: 11 man vs. 6 man football

Posted: Wednesday, Oct 2nd, 2013

Editor's note: This column is set when Lingle-Fort Laramie faced the decision between 6-man and 11-man football earlier this year.

Growing up in southeast Kansas, one of the most exciting high school football teams that I witnessed as a fan and covered as a freelance sports writer and photographer was the Colony-Crest High School Lancers.

Year in and year out, the Lancers were one of the top eight-man football teams in the state.

One of the first eight-man games I saw pitted the Lancers against the Leroy Blue Jays. It was a Lingle-Fort Laramie and Southeast type of rivalry.

At halftime, the score was 54-45. Yes, a combined 99 points in just 24 minutes of action.

Let’s just say, I became instantly hooked on that brand of football.

It is a faster-paced, almost basketball-like style of play.

When the Average Daily Membership numbers were released last week, and I saw Lingle-Fort Laramie High School fell below the new Wyoming High School Activities Association cutline for six-man football, I became excited.

I know there will be a lot of people who will be against the change, but I say give it a chance.

Granted, in my short time in Wyoming, I have yet to witness a six-man game in person, but I have seen plenty of highlight videos to know that it leaves a smile on my face, just like eight-man football did back in Kansas.

If you are not familiar with the six-man game, there are many six-man rules that are the same as those fans of 11-man football have grown accustomed to. There are some minor differences, though.

n The field – 40 yards wide and 80 yards long, compared to 53-1/3 and 100 in 11-man football.

n Time – Quarters are 10 minutes, which is two minutes shorter than a standard high school game.

n First downs – Teams need to gain 15 yards instead of 10 to achieve a first down to continue their drive to the end zone.

n Scoring differences – A kicked extra point after a touchdown is worth two points, while running or passing for the conversion is worth one. A field goal is worth four points.

n Everyone go deep – Every player, down linemen and centers included, are eligible receivers. Teams must have at least three players on the line of scrimmage.

n Don’t be sneaky – The quarterback can’t just take the snap and run. The ball must go from the person taking the snap to another player before it can be advanced. Handoffs, pitches and forward passes are legal, but quarterback sneaks are not.

There can be lots of points put on the scoreboard with this style and format. Just ask Ten Sleep, which scored 70 points in a game multiple times, or ask Hanna-Elk Mountain, which dropped 92 on Farson last season.

I feel there are also several downfalls to making the change. The glaring issue is the loss of the football rivalry with Southeast.

Maintaining tradition has its value. Moving from tradition can be difficult and challenging.

Regardless of the outcome of this big decision, whether it be six-man or 11-man, I know area fans will always embrace Dogger football.

Remember, high school athletics is all about the kids, as evidenced by what Dogger Athletic Director Mike Lashley said last week, “We need to make a decision that’s in the best interest of our student-athletes ... that’s the bottom line.”

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