After Further Review: Cole Young 8/21

Cole Young

By Cole Young PrepsKC Senior Writer
Posted: August 23, 2018 - 5:28 AM

There’s a lot to be made of the most recent MSHSAA district assignments and class breaks that were released on Friday.

To those outside the city maybe the most intriguing part of the whole thing is what is happening in Missouri’s smallest classes.

A chunk of teams on the western half of Missouri are faced with one of three issues.

  1. Can we compete in a safe manner in 11-man football.
  2. Should we make the jump to 8-man football?
  3. Can we sustain an 8-man team?

The first question is maybe the most important, can some of these schools safely play football? The numbers some of these schools are putting on their rosters is miniscule. Think 15 or less players for an 11-man team. What that means is forget about winning, how safe is it for a 125-pound freshman to be out there competing against seniors double their size. They are a couple sprained ankles and a case of mono from literally every member of the team playing every down.

That leads a number of schools to face a real question, should they make a move from 11-man football to 8-man football? I get it, that’s a tough decision for schools. In small towns, football is part of the identity and if your town and its populace can no longer support an 11-man squad, then it maybe says more than just your participation. Moreover, I’m struggling to think of any team that made the move to 8-man that returned to 11-man football.

It’s a viable option for any team in Class 1 to make the move. MSHSAA rules allow any team with an enrollment number of less than 200 to play 8-man football. There are a handful of teams in 8-man that have been powerhouses in Class 1 in the last 15 years, Tarkio and Rock Port were making noise in the early 2000s. Orrick, which made the move to 8-man, was a regular participant under Pat Richard in the late part of that decade and finally, Osceola is playing in that division less than five years from playing in the semifinals.

At the end of the day, participation is key even when you only have to get eight players on the field. The 8-man runner up in 2017, Sedalia Sacred Heart paused its varsity football program for the next two seasons due to not having enough players to compete at a varsity level.

It’s a problem that’s not isolated to one area of the state and one that unfortunately isn’t going away.