Ridgewood goes to 8 man football next year

Mindy Carls
Ridgewood Spartans

Confronted with falling numbers, Ridgewood will play 8-man football next fall. Both Cambridge and AlWood school boards have approved the move as a way to keep playing football.

For this season, the combined schools had 10 juniors and seniors. Next year, after four seniors graduate and eight move up from the sophomore class, Ridgewood still will have only 14 juniors and seniors.

To play 11-man football, the coaches would have to add 11 sophomores and possibly nine freshmen. Playing against juniors and seniors could be hard on younger boys. Boys playing on both sides of the ball without rest are more likely to be injured.

The Illinois High School Association lists 8-man football as an emerging sport with 28 teams already playing, including former Ridgewood opponents Biggsville, Peoria Heights, Lowpoint-Washburn, North Fulton, Amboy, Bushnell, West Prairie City and Ashton Franklin Central.

Potentially starting 8-man are United, South Fulton, Lewistown and Galva.

With the growing interest, a conference could be organized.

Eight-man football games can have very high scores as teams move up and down the field. Texas, Florida and California, known for their high school football, have 8-man football.

Differences from 11-man football include:

• Eight-man football has two fewer linemen and one less skill player.

• Only five players are on the line to start the play.

• Regardless of jersey number, all players are eligible to play any position and receive a pass.

• The front line of a kickoff return must have four players.

• No more than four players must be on one side of the kicker on the kickoff.

• The field is the same length, but only 40 yards wide.

For more information on 8-man football, including scheduling, visit http://i8fa.org.