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Montana’s six-man football champs cancel 2017 season

August 17, 2017 / Athletic AdministrationFootball
The Hot Springs Savage Heat (Montana) won’t field a football team this season, just one year after winning a state championship with a perfect 13-0 record.

The Savage Heat played six-man football last season, but a bump in enrollment moved them to eight-man football for the 2017 campaign. Head coach Jim Lawson said the program couldn’t find enough players to safely field a team this season, so he plans to run a junior varsity team this fall in hopes of building participation for the 2018 season.

From the Montana Standard:

“It’s too bad. I’ve been having nine kids for practice. I had eight today. Gosh when you’re playing 8-man football … We’re really young, I don’t have any seniors and we’d just never last. We’re going to play some JV games if we can, as long as we don’t lose anybody else.”

Lawson knew long before Monday his varsity program was in jeopardy.

“We were trying to get some other kids to come out and play, and held out hope we’d gain some,” he said. “We just didn’t gain the kids.

“When I look back at it, we had five kids returning from last year’s team. We had three incoming freshmen and then we gained one kid. It just wasn’t enough.”

Participation numbers are a struggle for schools across the nation. Some schools are dropping from 11-man to eight-man football, and others are entirely eliminating their programs. Since the 2009-10 season, 11-man football nationwide has 54,062 fewer players, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ participation surveys.

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