Six-man football

Six-man football is a variant of American football played with six players per team, instead of 11.

Bulldogs 1
A six-man team


Six-man football was developed in 1934 by Stephen Epler in Chester, Nebraska, as an alternative means for small high schools to field a football team during the Great Depression.

The first six-man game was played on Thursday, September 27, 1934, in the Hebron, Nebraska Athletic Gridiron, under the lights, with a crowd of almost 1000 watching. This game was played so that coaches all over Kansas and Nebraska could see if they wanted to try this new game of six-man. The two teams playing in the game were the combined team from Hardy-Chester and a combined team from Belvalex-Alexandria. The two teams had two weeks to practice prior to this game. After that night, rules for the game were distributed to about 60,000 coaches in the United States.[1] On October 5, 1940, Windham High School from Windham, Ohio defeated Stamford Collegiate of Niagara Falls, Ontario 39-1 in the first international six-man football game.[2]

Notable six-man players

Game play

Six man field
A six-man playing field

Six-man is a fast-moving game played on an 80-yard-long (73-m) by 40-yard-wide (37-m) field (instead of the normal 100-yd (91-m) by 53​13-yd (48.8-m) field used in 11-man football). Furthermore, the game specifies a 15-yard distance (14-m) from the line of scrimmage to gain a first down, instead of the normal 10 yards (9 m).

All six players are eligible to be receivers. On offense, three linemen are required on the line of scrimmage at the start of the play. The player to whom the ball is snapped cannot run the ball past the line of scrimmage; however, if the ball is tossed to another player, that player can run or throw the ball and the player to whom the ball was snapped is still an eligible receiver. All forward passes to the player who snapped the ball (center) must travel at least 1 yard (1 m) in flight.


Scoring is the same as in 11-man football, with the exceptions being on the point after touchdown attempt and the field goal. A point-after kick is worth two points, while a conversion made by running or passing the ball is worth one point; this is the opposite of standard 11-man football. In addition, a field goal is worth four points instead of three. These rule changes were made because of the difficulty of successfully getting a kick off with so few blockers on the line compared to the number of defenders. In both University Interscholastic League and Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools competition, a 45-point "mercy rule" exists to prevent lopsided scoring deficits (no such rule exists in the 11-man game). The game is ended under this rule if a team is losing by 45 or more points at halftime or at any point after. The mercy rule is alluded to in the title of the David Morse film about six-man football, The Slaughter Rule.

Scoring tends to be much higher in the six-man game compared to its 11-man counterpart; games in which one team scores 100 points or more, now extremely rare in 11-man, regularly occur several times a year in six-man.[3]

Six-man football today

As of the 2017–2018 alignments from UIL, TAPPS, TAIAO, TCAF, and T-CAL, the state of Texas has 262 six-man football teams (69 in UIL Division I,[4] 69 in UIL Division II,[5] 52 in TAPPS[6] 19 in TAIAO, 18 in TCAF and 17 in T-CAL);,[7] this does not count schools in other high-school leagues, or schools playing "outlaw schedules" (schools whose enrollment is too large to play six-man football in a league-sanctioned district, but nevertheless continue to organize a six-man team as opposed to an 11-man team).

Texas Charter School Academic and Athletic League (TCSAAL) held its inaugural Six-Man Football Varsity State Championship on November 20, 2015, at East View High School in Georgetown, Texas, in which Inspired Vision Academy defeated West Columbia Charter School for the championship.

TCSAAL held its second annual Six-Man Football State Championship on November 14, 2016, at Warrior Stadium at South Grand Prairie High School in Grand Prairie. Inspired Vision Academy defeated UME Preparatory 38-0 for their second consecutive TCSAAL Six-Man Varsity State Championship.

The state of Florida has 32 teams playing six-man football in the Florida Christian Association of Private and Parochial Schools. FCAPPS comprises small Christian or private schools and at least one home-school cooperative. Teams in the conference are as far south as the Florida Keys to as far north as Jacksonville.

The state of Alabama has eight teams playing as part of the Christian Football Association ( which is a sister organization to the Alabama Christian Education Athletic Association (ACEAA).

The state of Colorado has 23 teams currently playing six-man football, with the majority of teams being from small towns located in eastern Colorado.

As of 2013, Idaho has two teams that play six-man football; they play against makeshift junior varsity teams or teams in Montana. Idaho has not sanctioned six-man football, but approved it for a pilot program. It was made particularly for schools that were small and too far removed geographically to have a reasonable co-operative program with a neighboring school. Idaho did play six-man football in the 1940s.

The sport is also played by high schools in Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming, and in parts of Canada. Six-man football will return to South Dakota in 2019. [8]

As of 2013, no leagues (professional, semiprofessional, or amateur) play the game past the high-school level. The last one, the San Antonio, Texas-based Texas Sixman Football League, converted to eight-man football after the 2012 season. The Central Florida-based Southeastern Christian Association of Sixman Football ceased operations in the late 2000s, and the Pennsylvania 6-Man Football League also converted to eight-man around the same time.[9]

Currently, a women's league is playing six-(wo)man football – the Independent Women's Football League.[10]

The A-11 offense, the original version of which is now banned in almost all levels of football, could be seen as an adaptation of the six-man offense to 11-man rules, with its wide-open style and the appearance of every player being eligible.

Six-man football in books

In 2005, coach C.H. Underwood authored what is considered to be the definitive strategy and play book for the game, Six Man Football, published by Bright Sky Press. A player during the 1960s and coach of the first Texas State Six-Man Championship team in 1972, Underwood provides a thorough dissertation on the small-town sport from both analytical and historical perspectives.

Another Bright Sky Press book, published in 2003, Grit and Glory: Six-Man Football, is a collection of photographs that capture the spirit of the game and its players. Grit and Glory exclusively showcases the work of art photographer Laura Wilson, mother of actors Owen, Luke, and Andrew Wilson.

The newest release on the topic of six-man football is titled Six: A Football Coach's Journey to a National Record. The book was authored by Marc Rasmussen and published by the South Dakota State Historical Society Press. It includes a detailed history of Stephen Epler, the inventor of the sport, and follows the life of Willis "Bill" Welsh, who led a team from little Claremont, South Dakota, to a national record for consecutive wins between 1947 and 1953. More information is available on the South Dakota State Historical Society Press webpage (

In 2009, Dee Kelly, wrote a fictional book, A Good Man's Sin, based on a boy moving from the city to the country and playing six-man football in Indian Gap, Texas, before making it to the NFL. It explains the rules of the game and small-town football. It portrays the mid-1970s six-man football teams in central Texas consistently to the teams of that time when Cherokee and Marathon were powerhouses.

"Barefoot, Bloodied and Bruised: The Amazing Story of Louisiana Six-Man Football" is a self-published paperback written by longtime Louisiana football coach Barrett Murphy in 2014. This book is about six-man football adopted by small schools in rural Louisiana during the 1940s and 1950s. The backstories and the stories of the games themselves highlight the values of the times and provide poignant, funny, and inspirational lessons about how football shaped the lives of many who became part of the Greatest Generation.

Six-man football in the movies

The Slaughter Rule, released in 2002, used six-man football as played in Montana as the backdrop for an examination of the relationship between a fatherless renegade football player and his loner coach. The film contains a brief but adequate explanation of how the game of six-man football is played, as well as footage of actual game sequences. The title refers to a rule in which a game is called in the second half if one team gains a 45-point advantage over the other. In other states, it is referred to as the mercy rule. When invoked, one team is said to have "45ed" the other.

Six Man, Texas, released in 2008, is a documentary film that explores six-man football as identity in the public high schools of the 160 small towns in Texas that play it.

The Seventh Man, released in 2003, documents two years in the lives of the Panther Creek Panthers, one of the storied programs in Texas six-man football. It features the narration of Val Kilmer.

See also


  1. ^ Franklin M. Reck, "Play Six Man Football" The American Boy": September 1937 p30
  2. ^ Harris, Colin (2008-04-02). "An all-world salute". Record-Courier. Ravenna, Ohio: Dix Communications. Retrieved 2008-05-01.
  3. ^ "High Scoring Football Games".
  4. ^ "Alignments" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Alignments" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-05-23. Retrieved 2012-12-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Sixman Football is the newest and fastest growing sports". rmhde. Retrieved 27 January 2016.
  10. ^ "The Official Website of the Independent Women's Football League: Home".

External links

Baytown Christian Academy

Baytown Christian Academy is a private Christian primary and secondary school located in Harris County, Texas. The school's administrative offices and campus for a PK-4 program and kindergarten through 12th grades is located in an unincorporated area in Harris County.

Blanket, Texas

'Blanket' is a town located in Brown County in west-central Texas, United States. The population was 390 at the 2010 census.

Buckholts Independent School District

Buckholts Independent School District is a public school district based in Buckholts, Texas (USA).

The district has one school that serves students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve.

Calvert Independent School District

Calvert Independent School District is a public school district based in Calvert, Texas (USA).

Chester, Nebraska

Chester is a village in Thayer County, Nebraska, United States. The population was 232 at the 2010 census.

Chester is notable as being the birthplace of six-man football.

Eight-man football

Eight-man football is a form of gridiron football, generally played by high schools with smaller enrollments. Eight-man football differs from the traditional 11-man game with the reduction of three players on each side of the ball and a field width that can be reduced to 40 yards, 13 1/3 yards narrower than the 53 1/3-yard 11-man field. Most states continue to play on a 100-yard length field, whereas a few states opt for 80-yard lengths. Reduced-player football, which consists of eight-man, six-man, and nine-man football has gained popularity across the United States. As of 2015, 1,561 schools in 30 states sponsor reduced-player football, with 1,161 of those teams participating in eight-man leagues, whereas 284 teams play six-man football and 116 teams play nine-man football.

Field goal

A field goal (FG) is a means of scoring in American football and Canadian football. To score a field goal the team in possession of the ball must place kick, or drop kick, the ball through the goal, i.e., between the uprights and over the crossbar. American football requires that a field goal must only come during a play from scrimmage, while Canadian football retains open field kicks and thus field goals may be scored at any time from anywhere on the field and by any player. The vast majority of field goals, in both codes, are place kicked. Drop kicked field goals were common in the early days of Gridiron football but are almost never done in modern times. In most leagues, a successful field goal awards three points (a notable exception is in six-man football where, due to the difficulty of making a successful field goal because of the small number of players available to stop the opposing team from attempting a block, a field goal is worth four points).

A field goal may also be scored through a fair catch kick, but this is extremely rare. Since a field goal is worth only three points, as opposed to a touchdown, which is worth six points, it is usually only attempted in specific situations (see Strategy).

The goal structure consists of a horizontal crossbar suspended 10 feet (3.0 m) above the ground, with two vertical goalposts 18 feet 6 inches (5.64 m) apart extending vertically from each end of the crossbar. In American football, the goals are centered on each end line; in Canadian football, they are centered on each goal line.

Fort Davis High School

Fort Davis High School is a public high school located in the unincorporated community of Fort Davis, in central Jeff Davis County, Texas, United States. The school is operated by the Fort Davis Independent School District and classified as a 1A school by the UIL. In 2013, the school was rated "Improvement Required" by the Texas Education Agency.

Glasscock County Independent School District

Glasscock County Independent School District is a public school district located in Garden City, Texas, U.S. The district educates about 300 students in two schools.

Glasscock County ISD is the home of the Bearkats and Ladykats. Their school colors are red, black, and white. The football team won the 2009 Division I six-man football championship; the title game (against Strawn, a state six-man powerhouse in its own right) set several state championship records for a six-man contest:

Most points scored in a title game by the winning team (122 by Garden City), the losing team (88 by Strawn) and total (210)

Most points scored in a quarter (84 in the second quarter) and a half (116 in the first half)In 2007, Glasscock County High School earned a Bronze Medal rank in the U.S. News/SchoolMatters Best High School ratings.In 2009, the school district was rated "recognized" by the Texas Education Agency.

Gordon Independent School District

Gordon Independent School District is a public school district based in Gordon, Texas (USA).

Located in Palo Pinto County, the district serves the city of Mingus and extends into a small portion of northern Erath County. Gordon ISD was rated Exemplary by the Texas Education Agency in 2009 making it the only K-12 district in

the county with the high honor. Gordon High School won the 1996 and 1999 UIL six-man football championship.

In 2009, the school district was rated "exemplary" by the Texas Education Agency.

Laura Wilson (photographer)

Laura Cunningham Wilson (born 1939) is an American photographer. Her photographs have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, GQ, Wallpaper, Washington Post Magazine, and London's Sunday Times Magazine. She has completed five books of photography and text: Watt Matthews of Lambshead (1989), Hutterites of Montana (2000), Avedon at Work: In the American West (2003), Grit and Glory: Six-Man Football (2003) and That Day: Pictures in the American West (2015).She is the mother of actors Owen Wilson, Andrew Wilson, and Luke Wilson.

Lazbuddie, Texas

Lazbuddie ( LAZ-bud-ee) is an unincorporated community in Parmer County, Texas, United States. Named for local business owner, Luther "Laz" Green, and his partner, Andrew "Buddie" Sherley, the community grew up around the store they opened in 1924. Later a post office and school were established. The town has two cotton gins, a grain elevator, a hardware store, and several churches. The community's focal point is the Lazbuddie Independent School District which educates children from the surrounding rural area. Six-man football is played at Lazbuddie High School. On May 10, 1991, 3 tornadoes hit the ground in Lazbuddie and the event was caught on camera by farmers.

List of six-man football venues in Texas

This is list of Six-man football venues in Texas.

Note: this list is incomplete: you can help Wikipedia by expanding it.

Morganza High School

Morganza High School was a high school located at 752 South Louisiana Highway 3050 in the village of Morganza, Louisiana. The school was established in 1906 as a three-room school building. The two-story building last used as Morganza High School was built in 1940. The high school closed in the early 1980s. The school's mascot was the Tigers. Morganza High School's football team won a state championship in 1955 while playing as part of a six-man football scheme. The former high school building later became home to Morganza Elementary which was administered by the Pointe Coupee Parish School Board until being closed in 2008.

The school buildings and grounds are currently used as a law enforcement training facility for the Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office. As part of a community project, the school's gymnasium was renovated in 2014 and is currently used as a community athletic facility, as well as a parish athletic hall of fame museum.John B. Fournet, later a supporter of Huey Pierce Long, Jr., Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives, lieutenant governor, and associate and Chief Justice of the Louisiana Supreme Court, was the principal of Morganza High School in the 1916-1917 academic year.

Nine-a-side footy

Nine-a-side football is a sport based on Australian rules football played informally by Aussie rules clubs but not yet an official sport in its own right.

9-a-side games are sometimes played on half size fields that are typically rectangular or more commonly rugby fields, with 9 players on the field at any one time, typically consisting of 3 forwards, 3 backs and 3 centre players. Often two games are played at the same time on a single Australian Rules or cricket pitch. Other times, 9-a-side makes use of the full space of the field when a full complement of players is not available. This variety is a more open, running variety of Australian rules.

Strawn Independent School District

Strawn Independent School District is a public school district based in Strawn, Texas (USA).

The district consists of one campus consisting of grades PK-12.

Strawn High School has won three UIL six-man football championships. (2003, 2008 and 2018- the 2008 title was in Division I).

Texas Sixman Football League

The Texas Sixman Football League (TSFL) was a complex-based amateur six-man football league based in San Antonio, Texas. The league comprises eight teams, all of which played their games at one (usually parochial) school in the San Antonio area each season, and operated from 1999 through 2012. It is the direct predecessor to the current Texas Eight-Man Football League that began play in 2013.

Trinidad Independent School District

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Whitharral, Texas

Whitharral (pronounced "WHIT-hair-ul", the T and H do not blend) is an unincorporated community in Hockley County, Texas, United States.

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