One-by-one, coaches and administrators made their way into the meeting room at the Crowne Plaza Wednesday morning. Some scanned the room to see if they recognized anyone else attending the question-and-answer session about eight-man football.
With just 10 schools represented, it was not close to being the largest seminar held on the second day of the Louisiana High School Coaches Association Coaches Clinic.
Getting a bigger/better understanding of what it will take to add eight-man football was the goal of the session hosted by Louisiana High School Athletic Association Executive Director Kenny Henderson.
“The goal is to get 16 teams,” Henderson said. “That’s not a number etched in stone, but it looked like a good one because half of the teams would make the playoffs. If you get 14, the (executive) committee might go with it. We’ll see.”
Henderson explained the basics.
- Schools have until Oct. 15 to declare whether they want to play eight-man football in 2016 and 2017.
- Schools eligible to play eight-man football are Class B-C that do not play 11-man football now and schools in Class 1A that struggle to field an 11-man team. Schools playing eight-man football would be classified in either Class B or C as nonfootball schools for other sports.
- Schools in B-C can play eight-man football this fall as an unsanctioned club sport. Class 1A schools must complete their obligation to 1A and cannot play eight-man football this fall. The start-up cost for equipment for new schools will likely be at least $1,000 per player.
- Teams would play four 10-minute quarters instead of the traditional 12-minute quarters for 11-man football and would play on the same size field that 11-man teams play on.
- The eight-man regular season would consist of eight games with a three-week playoff at home-and-away sites, ending weeks before the LHSAA’s 11-man playoffs. The eight-man title game will not be included in the LHSAA’s Prep Classic at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Henderson said LHSAA Assistant Executive Director Keith Alexander will also field questions about eight-man football at rules clinics across the state during the weeks head.
“There are 10 schools in here today,” Henderson said. “If each of you reaches out and finds one school to join you, there won’t be a problem getting 16 teams. You can help make this work.”
Louisiana School for the Deaf, Family Christian, South Cameron, Northwood-Lena, Ringgold, Simsboro, North Central, Tensas, Ascension Christian and Sicily Island were the schools in attendance. Henderson noted that several small schools from the New Orleans area had expressed interest in eight-man football though none were in attendance.
“We’ve been looking at it since it got proposed,” North Central coach Jacobi Thierry said. “It would fit our program well with the number of kids we have. We don’t have numbers the big 1A schools have.
“We might lean towards this if we can get 16 teams. Our girls basketball coach wanted to play up for competition, but I think she’d get plenty of that in Class B.”
Northwood Athletic Director Krystle Nichols-Coleman said her Alexandria area school will declare to play eight-man football.
“We have a lack of kids out for football — we have 20 kids right now,” Nichols-Coleman said. “We’re getting smaller and smaller numbers and our talent is down. It’s a good option for our students. We’re going to declare to play eight-man. The only question is whether we get the 16 teams or not.”
Others called the meeting more of a fact-finding mission. Ascension Christian coach Joshua Puryear said his school wanted to look at eight-man football but plans to continue to play 11-man football.
When asked what would happen if 16 teams don’t opt to play eight-man football, Henderson said the plan can be proposed again, noting that a proposal to add 300-meter hurdles in track was proposed for six straight years before it passed.
Wednesday’s sessions ended with barbecue/clinic for football coaches at the LSU football operations building. The charge was $5 per coach in accordance with NCAA rules.
LSU defensive backs coach Corey Raymond and running backs coach/recruiting coordinator Frank Wilsonwere the scheduled speakers.
The three-day clinic ends Thursday at the Crowne Plaza with Zachary boys basketball coach Kenny Almond and University of Oklahoma wrestling coach Mark Codyconducting workshops.