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8-Player Football Championship Preview

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

8-Player Football Championship Preview

THE CHAMPIONSHIP:  The third Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association eight-player football State championship final will be held Saturday, Nov. 13, at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School at 1 p.m.

ADMISSION TICKETS:  The WIAA uses GoFan Ticketing for all digital and cashless tickets. Admission is $11 plus online fees for adults and students. All tickets must be redeemed on a mobile device. To purchase tickets, visit the WIAA website at:  https://www.wiaawi.org/Tickets.

COVID PROVISIONS:  Fully vaccinated individuals should consider wearing a mask in areas of high likelihood of transmission. In addition, masks are strongly encouraged for individuals not fully vaccinated.

LIVE STREAMED ON WIAA.TV:  The 8-player football championship game will be streamed live on the WIAA.TV portal of the NFHS Network on a consumer subscription basis. To purchase a subscription to the live programming, log-on to www.wiaa.tv and click on the “Subscribe” link at the top of the page. Archived streams of the games will be available on demand on the NFHS Network 72 hours after the tournament with a subscription.

2019 CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP:  Luck won the second 8-player football State championship game with a 42-27 victory over Newman Catholic. The game was played at Dorais Stadium in Chippewa Falls, Wis. Levi Jensen rushed for 432 yards on 25 carries with five touchdowns for the Cardinals. Jensen also led the Luck defense with a game-high 10.5 tackles.

THE MATCH-UP:  The game will be a rematch of the 2019 State championship game. Luck is back in the title game for third time. The Cardinals have qualified for the 8-player playoff field for the third time. The Cardinals were runners-up in 2018 and the champion in 2019. Prior to transitioning to the eight-player option, the Cardinals qualified for the 11-player playoffs 14 times in either Division 6 or Division 7 with an 8-14 playoff record. Their furthest advance in the 11-player playoffs was to Level 3 in Division 6 in 1996 and 1997. Newman Catholic has qualified for the eight-player playoffs for the third time. In 2019, they finished runner-up. They made five 11-player playoff appearances and compiled a 2-5 record. Their furthest advance in the 11-player playoffs was to Level 3 in 2010.

KEY DIFFERENCES IN THE GAME:  In addition to only eight players on the field for each side, the game differs slightly from the 11-player format both in the field configurations and playing rules. The eight-player field is 40 feet (13.3 yards) and the distance between the hash marks are narrower than the 11-player field. The playing rules differ from 11-player in that there must be at least five players on the offensive line of scrimmage at the snap. Each player that is at the end of the line of scrimmage and each of the three players behind the line of scrimmage are eligible and may have any legal jersey number.

EIGHT-PLAYER HISTORY:  In the first year the WIAA has sponsored a State Tournament Series for reduced-player football, Sevastopol defeated Luck 38-30 in the title game played at Stanley-Boyd. In the second championship game in 2019 at Chippewa Falls, Luck defeated Newman Catholic 42-27. The first year featured an eight-team bracket that was expanded to a 16-team bracket in 2019. There was no championship game in 2020 because of COVID-19 guidelines and accommodations. Only one level of the playoff was offered. Reduced-player football has had a long history in the association. The WIAA introduced a reduced-player football option for the first time in 1937 with a 6-player opportunity intended to serve small schools. An 8-player option was introduced a few years later, and prior to 1941, there were 90 schools playing either 6- or 8-player football. World War II had an impact as the number of reduced-player teams declined to 70. In 1950, there were 50 6-player teams and 26 8-player squads. By 1956, the 8-player game had all but replaced the six-player option as 71  programs were playing 8-player to only six schools sponsoring the 6-player option. By 1969, almost every football program was 11-player with the number of teams playing eight-player dwindling to six. In 2012, the WIAA reinstated reduced-player football with 16 teams optioning for the eight-player format that season. For six seasons, the top four teams in two separate regions were afforded an opportunity to match-up and play in a four-game jamboree at the end of the season.

FACTS & FIGURES: There were 57 programs sponsoring 8-player football in 2021 and 35 were tournament eligible. There are several schools participating in the 8-player program that were ineligible for the post-season tournament because their three-year average enrollment exceeds 200, which is the threshold to be eligible for the 8-player tournament.

FOLLOW THE FINAL ON SOCIAL MEDIA:  Receive updates of the State Football Finals on the WIAA State tournament Twitter account @wiaawistate with the hashtag #wiaafb. Also like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram at wiaawi.

NEED RESULTS?:  Results and official statistics will be available on the 8-player football tournament page on the WIAA website following the conclusion of the game.

WILSON IS THE OFFICIAL BALL:  Wilson is the official game ball of the WIAA State 8-Player Football Final. Wilson footballs are also the official ball at the 11-player football finals and at Levels 3 and 4 of the playoffs. The agreement with Wilson is effective through the 2023 season.

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