THE CHAMPIONSHIP: The fifth annual Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association 8-Player Football State Championship final will be held Saturday, Nov. 11, 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://gofan.co/app/school/WIAAWI.
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 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.
THE MATCH-UP: Both Florence and Thorp will be making their first appearance in the 8-player championship game. Florence qualified for the football playoffs all five seasons of the tournament. Prior to this season, the Bobcats’ furthest advance in the bracket was to the second round in 2018. Before transitioning to 8-player, they qualified for the 11-player playoff field 27 times. They were State runners-up in Division 5 in 1987. The Bobcats are the champions of the Northern Border Conference this fall. They cruised past Oakfield 40-12 in their Level 3 match-up to advance to the championship game. Thorp has qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Prior to the transition to 8-player, the Cardinals qualified 16 times in the 11-player playoffs. They won the Division 6 championship in 1993 and were runners-up in 1994. Thorp placed second in the East Division of the Central Wisconsin Conference this season. The Cardinals advanced to the title game following a 16-13 win over McDonell Catholic in their Level 3 game.
2022 CHAMPIONSHIP RECAP: Newman Catholic (12-0) scored 47 points in the first half to roll to a 54-0 victory over Belmont (10-2) in the 2022 State 8-Player Football Championship game at South Wood County Stadium in Wisconsin Rapids. The Fighting Cardinals outgained the Braves 320-13 in total offense in the game and forced five Belmont turnovers. Newman Catholic quarterback Conner Krach ran for 101 yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, and he completed 4-of-6 passes for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Thomas Bates led all rushers with 108 yards on the ground with two scores, and he added a game-high three pass receptions for 81 yards and two touchdowns for the Fighting Cardinals.
CHAMPIONSHIP GAME HISTORY: Sevastopol defeated Luck 38-30 in the first title game played at Stanley-Boyd in 2018. 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 when only one level of the playoff was offered. Newman Catholic is the only program to have won two 8-player football titles. Newman Catholic and Luck have played in the most championship games with three.
REDUCED PLAYER FOOTBALL HISTORY: 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 8-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. In 2018, the 8-player football began with an eight-team playoff, which expanded to 16 teams in 2019.
FACTS & FIGURES: There were 65 programs sponsoring 8-player football in 2023 and 47 were tournament eligible. There are several schools participating in the 8-player program that are 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.
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.
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 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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