8-man football continues to grow, closer to developing playoffs - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

8-man football continues to grow, closer to developing playoffs

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MADISON, Wisconsin (WKOW) -- It's still the same old school football that everyone loves, just on a smaller scale. 

In 8-man football, there are normally 15 to 20 players on the roster, with kids who are smaller and more athletic. In bigger programs. there are upwards of 100 players on the roster, with players coming in over six-feet tall and weighing well over 200 pounds. 
But it still carries the same basics as 11-man football. 
"It's still blocking and tackling fundamentals, "Mark Martinez, head coach of Abundant life says, "Our kids get banged up and bruised and get concussions just like the 11-man."
Martinez is one of the front-runners pushing more schools to add 8-man football to their communities. There were 18 teams in 2012, and three years later, there are now 23 teams across the state of Wisconsin. 

Martinez has been with the Challengers for the past six years, serving as head coach the past four. A co-op made up of three different schools, he and his Challengers have seen their fair share of challenges since they stepped on the scene in 2010.
"The first year that we played we played the Wisconsin school of the Deaf, we played Stockbridge three times that year, we played some JV games against teams that were in our other conference." 

Besides not having enough teams to make even conferences, they often had to travel two to three hours to play. 
"Most of our teams are more than an hour away so you're at the mercy of who's playing across the state you'll play whoever's out there."

So how is 8-man growing? 
When teams across the state struggle to field a team, instead of disbanding, Martinez and other 8-man coaches promote the switch.

A transition, he says, is quite simple. 
"We've seen some of the teams that have made the conversion from 11 to 8 player... They've really just taken the existing offensive systems and they run it at the 8 player level."

The Challengers are currently 5-0 in conference play, and 6-1 overall. 

The WIAA has indicated that when 30 teams join, they will add it as an official division and sponsor a post season. 

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