BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
After a successful first season of playing 8-man football, Danbury High School is eager to resume play in the new and improved format for small schools competing on the gridiron.
The Lakers dominated the competition last year and went 8-0.
Keith Mora, the head football coach and athletic director at the school, talked about the decision to stay put.
“There was no conversation about 11-man football after last season. That was not a discussion that was ever had. We’re very happy here,” said Mora. “There are some schools that might want to try and get back into 11-man football. It’s not a year-by-year thing, this is what’s best for our kids in the long term.
“We might have 15 kids one year, 17 another year. The overarching feeling is that this is what’s best for us. We’re going to be right around 14, 15, maybe 16 kids, that’s our new status quo. We’re seeing a little dip, it will go back up in a few years. We have low boy counts in our freshman and sophomore classes.”
One of the great things about 8-man football, say many coaches and fans, is that it allows some of the smallest schools in the state the opportunity to still play the game.
“I think part of it is the experience on Friday nights. If you only have 11-man football as an option, there is an end in sight. If you have 14 kids on an 11-man football team, you could be just a few injuries from having to cancel a game,” said Mora. “Then let’s be done with cheerleading and marching band. When you have an option like this, it’s not all that different. When I’m scheming, it’s the same as 11-man. The techniques, the coaching is the same. When you come up and watch an 8-man game, you see how very similar it is to a regular football game.”
The Lakers are part of the Northern 8 Football Conference. The league includes Holgate, Stryker and Toledo Christian. Danbury will play those schools, all of which are located in Northwest Ohio, twice each season, and face St. Mary Central Catholic and two schools in Michigan once.