So, What Is Eight-Man Football
Eight-man football is a form of gridiron football, generally played by high schools with smaller enrollments. Eight-man football differs from the traditional 11-man game with the reduction of three players on each side of the ball and a field width that can be reduced to 40 yards. That’s 13 1/3 yards narrower than the 53 1/3-yard 11-man field. Most states continue to play on a 100-yard length field, whereas a few states opt for 80-yard lengths.
Reduced-player football has gained popularity across the United States. As of 2015, 1,561 schools in 30 states sponsor reduced-player football. Currently, Missouri has approximately 26 teams.
Eight-man football shares the same rules, procedures, and structure as the traditional 11-man game, with a few minor differences. Eight-man football is played with eight players on offense and defense, three fewer than the 11-man game. It depends greatly on the type of formation used, but the eliminated players are commonly two offensive tackles and a skill position player on offense and one defensive back, one linebacker, and one defensive lineman on defense.
Eight-man football consists of fast-paced games with higher scoring than the traditional game. Eight-man scores vary, depending on the offensive and defensive strategies. Scores typically fall in the 40-60 point range, with “high scoring” games reaching the 70s and “low scoring” games falling below 30. Eight-man football is noted for producing multi-skilled players that are responsible for playing several positions, which require speed, agility, and strength.
A variety of offensive formations can be used in eight-man football, most of which are converted from traditional eleven-man formations. Eight-man football rules require five players to be on the line of scrimmage with players on each end remaining pass eligible. The interior of the line consists of two guards and a center. Most often, the line players on the edges of the formation are tight ends, or are occasionally split wide as wide receivers.
Due to reduced sized teams requiring players to know different positions, players’ jersey numbers do not affect pass eligibility, however, most teams follow the general guidelines set forth by the eleven-man game.
Attempting the extra point kick after a touchdown is less common in eight-man, due to the lack of specialized kickers and holders, and the inability to block defenders from interfering with the kick. For this reason, teams often attempt a two-point conversion instead.