Monticello ready to kick-off 8-player football
by David Boyle
The Monticello football season kicks of with a game against Rich High School in Monticello at 7:00 pm Friday Aug 19.
The game will be the school’s introduction to eight-player football. Other teams in Utah’s inaugural eight-player league include Monument Valley and Whitehorse High Schools.
Friday’s game will be streamed live on PictureItPalmer.com
I spoke with Buckaroo football head coach Reed Anderson in a pre-season interview. Below is a condensed version of the conversation. You can hear the entire interview on RedRock92.com
David Boyle: It’s a new year starting up, and a new variation of the sport for Utah. Monticello Buckaroos hosting the Rich Rebels for the first 8-player football game of the year. Tell us about how the kids have adjusted this off-season with 8-player ball.
Reed Anderson: They’ve actually adjusted a lot better than I thought they would. It obviously is new and we’ve talked to them about but in reality there’s only a couple of difference and those are really the differences in rules are more aligned with what you’d see in the college and NFL game rather than what you’d see at the high school game. As we got into camp and the players started experiencing this they realized how fun it can be and we still call the offense pretty much the same, we had to make a few adjustments. The defense is similar in terms of you still have your blitzes, you still cover guys, you still rush. So they realized ‘oh wow this is a lot of fun.’ it’s compressed, it’s fast, and they’ve learned to love it. There were a few that were skeptical but they’ve come around, since they’ve actually played it.
DB: One of the challenges in small schools you often have a lot of kids playing both sides of the ball. With less players on the field, do you anticipate still playing most kids both ways or will you have more specialists?
RA: No, we’ll still have most kids play both ways. We’ll have very few specialists still. Our school size has shrunken so much that even though we are three less players on the field. When you get six, to eight players per grade which is roughly half of your grade level at this point you’re still looking at a team of 25-32. So we’ll have some back ups, they still will play both ways quite a bit.
DB: Let’s talk about the first game of the year against Rich High, it’s a long-standing rivalry. What challenges are you anticipating the Rebels will bring this year?
RA: They’re kind of an interesting situation. They’re going to play their first three games will be eight-player and then they’re going to play a series of eleven-player games against Wyoming teams. They need to make their offensive adjustments which also leads us into they have a new coach. Coach Larson is taking over for Coach Groll and so you don’t really know what to expect offensively out of them. We do know he grew up there in Rich so you wonder if he’s going to follow in Ashley Brown’s footsteps and bring back some option. How is he going to make that work in the eight-player. We’re trying to give our defense lots of looks to be prepared for whatever they’re going to throw at us on Friday night. That’s also an advantage for us because its going to be the same. We’re both in the same boat trying to figure out this eight-player thing. So that’s going to be the biggest challenge is a new coaching staff. What are they going to do offensively, what are they going to do defensively and try to make those adjustments earlier in the game rather than later to see if we can get up quick.
DB: It’s a new variation of the sport coming to Utah, and you’re kicking it off on Friday, anything else you’d like to mention?
RA: Come out and see what it’s like. I think most people that aren’t familiar with football aren’t going to see much different than what you see on TV. Scoring should be up maybe not these first couple of weeks as we figure it out but we’re hoping that most of these eight-player games end in a large 45-35, 55-40 score because of that smaller amount of players, skinnier field. Come out and enjoy the game, see what it’s like and form your opinions whether you like this new style.