Eight-man high school football growing in the Ozarks

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 9:43 PM CDT
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LOCKWOOD, Mo. (KY3) - Eight-man high school football is becoming a normal for smaller schools around the Ozarks.

Just eight years ago, Southwest Missouri had no eight-man football teams. But for a few teams like Greenfield and Lockwood, the game has changed.

Clay Lasater, Lockwood head football coach, said he didn’t know how different the changes were going to be.

“That was part of what I didn’t know, how drastic the changes would have to be,” said Lasater.

Greenfield head coach Jordan Bryant, said it was very different for everyone involved.

“It’s a transition, not only for me, but for the kids too, being their first year,” said Bryant.

Both Lockwood and Greenfield high schools recently made the switch, a choice designed to keep student athletes healthy, and accommodate a smaller student population.

The change could come with some perks. Lasater said other schools saw their programs grow after the switch.

“I think, as they were playing eight, kids started having some success with it, they liked it,” said Lasater. “They were actually getting more participation from some kids after they went eight-man. We didn’t necessarily see that happen for us this year.”

Both coaches said the change takes time, but it is starting to feel normal and the kids love it.

“They’ve accepted it definitely. With me being the new coach, they’ve kind of wanted to restart,” said Bryant. “I think it’s good that we went to eight-man, and then having me come in, it’s kind of like a refresh.”

“Things started feeling like normal football and kids were enjoying it,” said Lasater. “It really didn’t feel all that different. The field was a little different shape, being narrower and shorter. Formations at times look a little bit different.”

Lasater also said the kids’ spirit never changed.

“But it was still hitting, it was tackling, it was football and I think the kids had fun with it,” said Lasater.

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