High School football is under way

Published 12:45 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Football season has finally arrived. Trinity, ACCS and Huntington’s teams have seen regular season action and the public school squads will get into real action this week. I watched part of a public school jamboree last Friday. None of the participating teams, representing a couple of the largest schools in the state, looked to be in mid-season form. All three coaches appeared to be working on their weaknesses and did not seem to be overly concerned about winning. The team from Kosciusko (the only 4A team in the jamboree) looked to be in nearly top form and handled both of the teams from the 5A schools.

Interestingly, the most effective quarterback for one of the big schools was a kid with Miss-Lou roots. Peyton Johnson, who transferred to Madison Central from Jackson Academy, is the son of Bill Johnson and the grandson of Carla and Charles Johnson, long-time Vidalians. My step-grandson, DeFoe West, a sophomore member of the Madison Central team and a teammate of Johnson’s, played baseball against Johnson for several years.

I notice that several Mississippi Private School Association schools are playing eight-man football this year. Two of those schools, Kemper Academy from DeKalb and Rebul Academy of Learned, used to field 11-man football teams, but had lost too many players to continue to compete at that level. The other four teams, Ben’s Ford (Bogalusa), Meridian’s Calvary Christian and Russell Christian and Mount Salus from Clinton round out the teams playing eight-man football this season. Those six will play a round robin schedule, each playing every other team twice, home and home. A winner will be crowned.

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Eight-man football rules differ little from regular high school playing rules. Five players line up on the offensive line of scrimmage, with the two players on the ends being eligible pass receivers, along with all three backs. The eight-man game is not uncommon in several western states, where travel limits easy 11-man scheduling. Some areas have adapted a 45-point mercy rule, often called the “slaughter rule.”

There are also six-man and nine-man versions of American football. Israel has a league playing eight-man football, and in the six-man version in France, blocking “Beneath the belt” is prohibited. I wonder if that is the same as our “blocking below the waist” rule?

One of the more noticeable rule differences between eight-man football and regular high school rules is that, when played on a 40-yard field, the kick off is made from the 30 yard line. Touch backs bring the ball out to the 15, and normal 15-yard penalties only are enforced for 10 yards.

It seems that the running game is more widely depended upon in eight-man football that in the normal game. This is because of the difficulty in protecting the passer with only three interior offensive linemen. The same condition leads to a lack of place kicks for extra point conversions or field goals.

I seem to remember that the Mississippi School for the Deaf successfully competed against other similar schools in eight-man football. I do not know if they still play that game, or if they have moved up to the 11-man game. I remember that, a couple of years ago, MSD defeated a MSHAA team, I think it was a 2A or 3A school, but I am not sure.

And, That’s Official

Al Graning can be reached at AlanWard39157@aol.com