8-man football a reality some must consider | News, Sports, Jobs – Warren Tribune Chronicle

  • October 24, 2022

Oct 24, 2022
Last week, Sebring announced its decision to pursue 8-man football for the foreseeable future as a way to keep the program alive.
Sad? Sure. It’s sad to see a team “close up shop” on a sport. But truthfully, I prefer to think of this move as rebirth more than anything. The football team isn’t going anywhere.
The schedule is going to look a little different and there’s going to be a few less players on the field at a time, but at its core, Sebring still has a football team. The marching band will still be there to play and the lights will still shine on Friday night.
In fact, I think this is a great thing, and the sooner the OHSAA and some of our smaller communities embrace this, the better.
Enrollment numbers across the state are going down and so are football participation numbers. Are either of those going to get a big bump in the near future? It’s not likely.
That’s where this new type of football comes in. Current 8-man football rules dictate that the maximum roster size for a team is 25 players. For teams who have a hard time maintaining numbers, this would be a match made in heaven.
The only major downside to this is the travel aspect — at least for now. The large majority of 8-man squads are located in the far-western areas of Ohio and even they can’t fill out a schedule of only Ohio teams.
Schools in the Northern 8 conference, the one Sebring applied to join, fill their non-conference schedule with teams in Michigan and Indiana. For a team like Sebring, that’s probably crossing the line travel-wise. I’d suggest Pennsylvania, but all the schools that have 8-man teams are in the eastern part of the state.
Sebring coach Anthony Agresta wants to help form an Eastern Ohio league like the Northern 8, but that’s going to take some assistance.
That’s where some of our area’s schools could potentially come in.
Over the summer Chalker committed to playing a junior varsity schedule for the next two seasons, but would be the prime Mahoning Valley team to join the Trojans in blazing a trail on the 8-man front.
They haven’t played varsity football since 2020 and have a large hurdle to clear to return to get enough players. I’ve been cheering for the success of their efforts, but it’s a tough battle. There’s nothing wrong in considering this as an option. If things aren’t looking up by the beginning of next season, I would start looking into the possibility of 8-man.
The two have shared the gridiron plenty of times in the past, so it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for them to link up in this regard as well.
Before Bill Bohren revitalized the Mathews program, the Mustangs very well could have been walking down a similar path. Like I said, it’s not a crime for coaches and athletic directors to keep this idea in the back of their minds for the future. Almost like an insurance plan.
They’re outside of our coverage area, but schools like Ashtabula St. John, which just revived its football program, and St. Thomas Aquinas are schools that could and should consider a move like this. Both have had issues recently, and are much closer than the Sandusky-area schools Sebring will be facing in the future.
I think this is a good option for our area schools that are having competition or numbers problems. Early on, it’s a big sacrifice, but it’s a good chance to be on the forefront of something.
Heck, this might even give the chance for one of our non-football schools to throw their hat into the ring.
If this takes off, maybe schools like Lordstown, Badger, or Maplewood could potentially form a team and get going on the gridiron as well.
It sure would be a shame that those awesome “Maplewood Football: Undefeated Since 1959” shirts wouldn’t serve the same purpose as they do now, but now I’m just spitballing ideas.
Someone remind me to inquire about one of those next time I’m in the Mecca area.
But seriously.
It’s going to be an increasingly hard reality for some to accept that football is never going to be as big as it once was. Other sports like soccer and basketball are on the rise, and soon enough, the only way schools are going to continue to field football teams at this rate will be to make the switch.
That’s not a bad thing though.
There’s obviously positives and negatives with something like this, but I’m choosing to see the potential bright sides of this change. Overall, I think it’s going to be a great way to keep kids involved in a sport they love.
If the choice is between 8-man and no-man football, I think the choice is obvious.
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Last week, Sebring announced its decision to pursue 8-man football for the foreseeable future as a way to keep the …
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