OSAA Considering Eliminating 8-Man Football

WILSONVILLE – The days of 8-man football in Oregon may be done as soon as next fall.

The Oregon Schools Activities Association issued a memo on December 21 to superintendents, principals, athletic directors and football coaches across the state. In the memorandum, Brad Garrett, Assistant Executive Director of the OSAA, discussed the first meeting of the Football Ad Hoc Committee, a group chosen to determine football placements for the upcoming season.

After only a single meeting and receiving online testimony from five individuals and 18 pieces of correspondence, the committee if forging ahead with grouping 2A and 1A schools into three groups. One group would be assigned to play 6-player football with the remaining two groups assigned to play 9-player football. The game of 8-man football would only be a memory.

Eliminating 8-man football is due to a number of factors according to the memo. First is the expansion of 6-man football among the small schools, a division still not formally recognized by the OSAA. For 6-man competition, there does not yet exist a formal playoff policy or recognition of a state champion.

In the season most recently completed, 22 teams participated in the 6-man football. Not considering last season’s debacle due to the COVID shutdown, 15 teams were playing 6-man football in the 2019-20 season. 15 was also the number of teams playing 6-man in the 2018-19 season.

For these same two time periods, 28 teams played 8-man football during this past season. For the 2019-20 season, that number stood at 40 teams.

For the most recent season, 26 teams played 11-man football at the 3A level. 29 teams played at the 3A level for the 2019-20 season.

Further issues discussed in the memorandum in support of 9-man football is the previous use of this size team at the sub-varsity level (junior varsity to most of us). The memo states the 9-player model has been used for more than 10 years and has “developed a sub-culture of competition with Oregon.”

The memorandum also points out the declining numbers of players in the state, a problem that is not state specific, but recognized nationally. The memorandum states “decreases in average team size over the last 10 years have been significant”, but fails to cite specific numbers.

This is but an overview of a major change proposed for a number of teams in eastern Oregon. We at easternoregonsports.com, like the Ad Hoc Committee, have much work to do looking at the positive and negative effects of changing the way football is played among a number of our student athletes. Our next article will look at individual teams involved in the proposed change.

The one thing the Ad Hoc Committee is needing is input from you-players coaches, parents and fans. Written suggestions and proposals should be emailed to the OSAA at [email protected]. Any communication received by the OSAA will be shared with all committee members for review and discussion.

We also ask you to stay with us for our continued updates and analysis of, for lack of a better word, a decision that could be a “game changer.” We are also interested in your thoughts, ideas and concerns. You are urged to contact us at [email protected].