Game emphasizes speed
Switching from 11-man to 8-man football may turn a liability of the Peabody-Burns High School football team into an asset.
The Warriors have had, on average, smaller linemen than their competitors in 11-man football, which tended to make things difficult, coach David Pickens said before the team’s scrimmage Friday. But eight-man football places a premium on speed, even on the offensive line.
“Speed is a lot more of a factor,” he said.
Players are excited about the change.
“I think it’s great,” senior running back and defensive back Storm Pickens said. “We’re built for speed.”
Offense in eight-man football shares some similarities with the spread offense that has become successful in college football, the coach said. In both cases the focus is on getting a playmaker one-on-one with a defender.
“You’re working to get a matchup with one of your best guys that is a mismatch,” Pickens said.
Having fewer players on the field magnifies mistakes, he said. A single defensive mistake can lead to a big play or a touchdown for the other team.
“There’s going to be a learning curve all year,” especially for the coaches, Pickens said. “The kids, they’re just going to play football.”
Pickens said there are a lot of good coaches with experience in eight-man football in the school’s new conference, the Wheat State League.
Despite working with fewer players, there is no shortage of creativity in eight-man football.
“The imagination in eight-man runs wild,” Pickens said. “That’s the best part of it.”
Rules for eight-man football require a team have five players at the line of scrimmage and three in the backfield. Most often the players at the line of scrimmage include a center, two guards, and some combination of two tight ends and receivers. The backfield includes a quarterback and some combination of two running backs and receivers.
Common defenses include three linemen, three linebackers, and two defensive backs; three linemen, two linebackers, and three defensive backs; and four linemen, two linebackers, and two defensive backs.
Senior receiver and defensive back Derek Price said the team has all the talent needed to succeed in eight-man football, but some work remains to develop and understand the new schemes.
The seniors on the team are hungry to win, and he expects that will translate to success.
“We’re pushing everybody to the limit,” Price said.
The Warriors’ season begins 7 p.m. Friday at Centre High School.