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CENTRE:   Centre downsizes to 6-man football; Peabody-Burns may follow

Staff writer

A growing number of area football programs are shrinking converting not just from 11-man football to eight-man, but now trimming to six-man teams.

Smaller class sizes, student athletes who are injured or sidelined by quarantine, and waning interest in football have nudged Centre’s district school board to downsize its eight-man team to six.

The board approved the change during a special meeting Aug. 24. Peabody-Burns is set to vote on the issue at during its regular meeting at 6 p.m. tonight.

The practice is getting so big the Kansas State High School Activities Association is considering sponsoring post-season play.

KSHAA sponsors a nine-week season of six-man but cannot sponsor a championship until it has 24 teams, with Centre there are 15.

Mark Lentz executive director of football for KSHAA, said the switch to six-man would allow small towns to field football teams for the love of the game.

“It’s still football whether they are 11, 8, or 6 on a team,” he said.

Turnout of only nine players led Centre coach Kelly Steiner to embrace the switch after one of the nine was sidelined by an injury.

Centre forfeited all of its 2021 scheduled games. The team has lined up four six-man games so far, but its schedule is still being determined.

“Switching to the six-man game has excited the players, and there are a few other students who now are talking about possibly going out,” Steiner said.

His team will need to adapt to new rules. Six man football is very different.

To start, the field is smaller at only 40 yards wide and 80 yards long.

The game is unique in that every player can catch a pass, but the quarterback cannot run the ball. There must be a “clean exchange” where the quarterback hands off, pitches, or throws the ball.

Fifteen yards is a first down, not 10. Scoring also is different with four points for a field goal, two for a kicked extra point, and one for an extra point from scrimmage.

New rules aside, six-man is still an attractive choice for smaller high schools Peabody-Burns principal Tyler Schroeder said.

“With the number of our athletes participating, it’s just one of our options to consider,” he said. “We just happen to have the smallest classes in our district all come together at one time in our high school.”

There are not many six-man football teams close to Peabody, with travel times being the biggest challenge according to Schroeder.

“It sounds like the six-man association is expanding this year,” he said. “We’re just wanting to consider all options to keep our kids on the field every week.”.

Centre does not face the same travel issues that Peabody-Burns has, as Burrton High and Cunningham High both play six-man football.

“Burrton used to be in our district, and Cunningham is about an hour thirty — a little bit longer than our regular district games,” Centre athletic director Timothy Vinduska said. “We’re not traveling as much as people would think. We would go out an hour and thirty for a district game, so this was worth that for us.”

The possibility of Peabody-Burns switching adds another contender to this roster.

Lentz said six-man has spread as more high schools make the switch.

“The size of the team doesn’t matter,” Lentz said. “There are still kids who are playing.”

Last modified Sept. 9, 2021

 

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