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Crusader six-man football looms on St. John’s horizon

Last year, former St. John athletic director Dennis Kaman expressed his interest in bringing six-man football to Crusader athletics while speaking with the school’s basketball coach, Cody O’Daniel.
As O’Daniel made the transition into the athletic director role, the coach kept what he felt was a “great idea” at the forefront of his mind.
“Football is the No. 1 sport in Texas and everybody knows it,” O’Daniel said.
“Hopefully we’ll draw some more students who want to play football. We’re giving our students one more option when it comes to athletics. I love football and this seems like a great opportunity.”
That’s right, six-man football is slated to begin at STJ for the 2008-09 school year.
As far as O’Daniel can tell from people associated with the school he’s spoken with, there’s a lot of excitement about this decision.
“With the football program comes band, cheerleading, athletic trainers and such,” he said.
“Maybe not the first year, but hopefully the second. As your school continues to grow, so do the options you can offer students.
“Some people don’t know much about six-man football and it’s definitely different. It’s not Ennis High football and we’re not trying to compete with that.”
UIL six-man football first began in the Lone Star State back in 1938 after it was invented four years earlier by a coach from Nebraska. While 55 schools participated the first year, that number jumped to 112 in 1939. At one time, as many as 160 teams participated.
In the 1940s, then-tiny towns such as Katy and Copperas Cove took part in six-man football. By the turn of the century, there were approximately 60 private schools in Texas playing the sport. In comparison, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana were the only other states sanctioning six-man state championships and none of them fielded 20 teams overall, private or public.
“I’ve heard there was a desire to bring football to [STJ] in the past, but for whatever reason it didn’t come to be,” O’Daniel said.
“We want to be there for the kids who want to play football and also want a good Catholic education. I really believe it will help our young men grow as student athletes.”
While the six-man program won’t begin until ninth grade, O’Daniel hopes to incorporate the junior high athletes into this plan with flag football. He believes this would help youngsters learn about the game without dealing with contact until they begin a high school weightlifting program.
The school might possibly transition to winter soccer – as opposed to fall – in order to fill out its football roster and prevent time conflicts for the athletic field. All games will be played on Saturday.
For those not familiar with the nuances of six-man, it’s played on a field 40×80 yards as opposed to 50×100. It’s 15 yards for a first down and all players are eligible receivers.
There must be a “clean exchange” of the football. The quarterback must hand off, pitch or throw the ball before it can cross the line of scrimmage.
Field goals are worth four points, a kicked PAT is two points and a run/pass PAT is worth one point.
If a team leads by 45 points or more at any point after halftime, the game is over.
“Six-man football I’ve experienced is a whole lot faster than 11-man football,” O’Daniel said.
“There’s a lot more movement out there on a shorter field and the action is up-tempo. It’s a pass-heavy game and pretty exciting. A lot of players have to go both ways due to the smaller rosters.”
O’Daniel hopes to introduce the sport to a lot of local athletes – and not just those currently enrolled at St. John.
“We would welcome all young men to come play STJ football, but of course the most important thing would be their desire for a Catholic education,” he said.
“We want this to be a fun, learning experience.”

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Posted by on Jul 31 2007. Filed under Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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