Ben’s Ford Christian School playing 8-man football

Published 3:01 pm Friday, May 10, 2019

Ben’s Ford Christian School has decided to compete in eight-man football.
“The main thing was participation, the number of kids planning on playing,” Ben’s Ford football coach Tommy Pittman said.
Pittman, who has been coaching football at Ben’s Ford since 2009 and was the head coach in 2012 and 2013, noted that the team had a pretty big senior class last year. Based on the Eagles’ roster when The Daily News’ football tab came out last August, Ben’s Ford had 24 players, including freshmen, and half of them were seniors. The number can change either way as the season goes on.
“We had a good number (of seniors) last year, and just counting the ones, 10th, 11th and 12th that’s planning on playing, we have — you can’t play 11-man football with 12 guys (sophomores to seniors). Hopefully we’ll pick up a few more kids before and through the summer and when school starts, but like I said, we feel like that was the best fit for us,” Pittman said. “It was either not play at all or go to eight-man. That’s kind of where we were and we’ve got a good number of kids that enjoy playing and wanted to continue to play and we wanted to give them the opportunity to be able to play football here at school.”
Ben’s Ford has played 11-man football since the 2009 season, after playing eight-man prior to that.
Eight-man football is similar to 11-man with some variations.
One of those is that players can wear any number regardless of the position and any player on the end of the line is an eligible receiver.
The kickoff neutral zone in eight-man football is 15 yards instead of 10 and onsides kicks must travel 15 yards before being touched by the kicking team. In 11-man high school football, kickoffs are from the 40 and the receiving team has to lineup no closer than the 50. In eight-man football, that gets backed up to the 45.
The game is shorter, as there are 10-minute quarters as opposed to 12.
This last difference will not affect Ben’s Ford home games, but could affect them in road games. Teams have the option to make their football field, which is usually 100 yards long from goal line-to-goal line and 53-1/3 yards wide, 80×40. If that happens, kickoffs go from the 30, touchbacks are at the 15 and free kicks after safeties go from the 15.
Pittman said that players will still be able to go to college for football and go to camps to be seen. He also said they will be able to compete for district and state titles.
“We’re excited about it,” Pittman said. “We’ve had a good week of spring just getting out there showing the kids it’s football. We’re going to practice the same way, we’re going to prepare the same way. The only difference is, there’s less guys on the field and teaching them some of these minor things.”
“I’m excited about this year. We’ve got a good group of kids, we just don’t have very many of them. I believe we will be able to be competitive in this league. One of the questions was, ‘would we be able to compete for a district and state championship,’ and we will. There’s a playoff bracket setup just for eight-man, in fact two. Single A eight-man and you have double-A eight-man, so I’m excited.
“If we can stay healthy, that’s going to be the main thing. We’ve got a good group that’s been working.”
MAIS eight-man football has two classifications.
Ben’s Ford will be competing in Class AA. The classification has 16 teams with four districts of four teams each.
The Eagles will play in District 2, which also includes Columbia Christian Academy, Hebron Christian School and Kemper Academy.
The playoffs feature 12 teams. The four district champions reach the playoffs with eight at large teams reaching the postseason.
Seedings are based on power point average.
The district champions are seeded 1-4 and the at-large teams are the 5-12 seeds.
Ben’s Ford has a scrimmage on Friday, Aug. 9, and the jamboree is the following Friday. Both will be on the road. The scrimmage is at Wilkinson County Christian Academy, while the jamboree will take place at Prentiss Christian School.

Tommy Pittman