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Monday, October 29, 2018

Eight-Player Football Championship Preview

THE CHAMPIONSHIP: The first Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association eight-player football State championship final will be held Saturday, Nov. 3, at Forward Field at Oriole Park in Stanley, Wis., at 1 p.m. Stanley-Boyd High School will serve as the host of the event. 

PURCHASE TICKETS:  Ticket prices for the event are $8 per game for adults and $1 for children 6-years old and under. Tickets are available at the schools and are available at the venue the day of the game.

LIVE STREAMED ON THE WEB:  The eight-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 or www.nfhsnetwork.com and click on the “Subscribe” graphic. Archived streams of the games will be available on demand on the NFHS Network 72 hours after the tournament without requirement of a subscription. 

EIGHT-PLAYER HISTORY:  It is the first year the WIAA has sponsored a State tournament series and championship for reduced-player football, but the game has had a long history in the association. The WIAA introduced a reduced-player football option for the first time in 1937 with a six-player opportunity intended to serve small schools. An eight-player option was introduced a few years later, and prior to 1941, there were 90 schools playing either six- or eight-player football. World War II had an impact as the number of reduced-player teams declined to 70. In 1950, there were 50 six-player teams and 26 eight-player squads. By 1956, the eight-player game had all but replaced the six-player option as 71  programs were playing eight-player to only six schools sponsoring the six-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 32 programs sponsoring eight-player football prior to the season. Three programs cancelled their seasons because of a lack of participation. There are an additional four schools participating in the eight-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 eight-player tournament.

THE MATCH-UP:  Luck and Sevastopol are the inaugural eight-player football championship game participants, but both had 11-player programs before making the transition. The Cardinals qualified for the 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. The Pioneers made their only playoff appearance in 2010, which resulted in a Level 1 loss in Division 6.

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, follow us on Instagram at wiaawi, and add us on Snapchat at wiaawis.

NEED RESULTS?:  Results will be available on the WIAA website following the conclusion of the game; however, official statistics may not be readily available immediately following the game. 

WILSON IS THE OFFICIAL BALL:  Wilson is the official game ball of the WIAA State Eight-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 2018.


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