Eight-man football is not an uncommon adaptation of the larger game more often played with 11 players on the field. Smaller high schools that tend to struggle with fielding a full team will often times drop from an 11-man offense and defense to eight-man so the boys can still play.
This isn’t all that changes either. Sometimes the schools are so small certain players play both offense and defense, maintaining multiple positions. Many people may argue that these athletes are disadvantaged in finding a good college to play for because of the size of their school, when in reality this is a good place to shop for some of the better kids out there on the block.
Assistant Football Coach Michael McCabe is the running back and is also in charge of some of the scouting for the team. He’s responsible for picking up four of the six players Pacific has that came from eight-man football schools. “I feel they’ve adjusted fine to the program,” said McCabe “Football’s football.”
Because these players can play both offense and defense, some argue that they are better athletes due to their versatility. Now that the coaches are forming a more specific idea for where their players will play, players can begin to hone in on certain skills required to play to their full potential.
“There’s some growing up that needs to occur,” said Head Coach Keith Buckley.
He feels there is no setback they have faced since “Football is football. You have to make tackles and you have to make tacklers miss.” For Buckley, that is what it all boils down to in order to be successful in the game.
Sophomore Bryan Mills is one of the players who comes from an eight-man setting. Mills, the starting safety, doesn’t feel like the new style of play has really affected his individual performance. In fact, he seems to like it a lot more.
“It’s really not that much more difficult. It’s a bit strange to see six extra guys on the field at once, but really I’ve gotten used to it.”
According to Mills, the biggest struggle with making the jump was dealing with the playbooks.
Playbooks may pose a slight challenge for a player coming from an eight-man roster. They see six more obligations on the field than they are accustomed to and football relies on synchronized development in the play in order to be successful. One slip up of not understanding where a player should be can cost the team yards, or worse, a turnover. When in a close game, such things can prove fatal.
Some other names that have come from eight-man football backgrounds are sophomores Bryce Kershner, who has been very successful in the full back position, and Cameron Pumphrey.
Also noted are freshmen Tanner Rietmann and Tate Eakin. According to their coaches, all are living up to expectations and carry the chance for a win for the Boxers in the future.