Chenango County has seven high school football programs and of those seven, three – Unadilla Valley, Sherburne-Earlville and Oxford – switched to the 8-man format, instead of the traditional 11-on-11 game, that most have been used to for years.
There are not many differences to the two styles of play.
The size of the field is reduced along with the number of players. The New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) is sticking with the common 120-yard long, 53 1/3-yard wide fields at high schools or off-campus venues.
Offenses are required to line up five players on the line of scrimmage, instead of the seven required in traditional football.
The games are still played as 12-minute quarters. All current kicking plays in the game and the rules are the same.
The strategy of the game is where the game changes the most because of the speed. According to Art Rigas, Unadilla Valley’s head coach, the game is played much faster.
“You rely a lot more on your position players and their quickness of getting to the ball or making the play,” said Rigas, who will be coaching his second season in the 8-man division of Section IV.
While the switch to 8-man was not preferred by all or any of those coaches, they have adapted over the past season and are preparing for the upcoming campaign – which will officially open on August 29 with the first day of practice.