WIAA State 8-Player Football Championship Preview
Tuesday, November 7th, 2023 -- 5:55 AM
The fifth annual WIAA 8-Player Football State Championship final will be held this Saturday, Nov. 11, at Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School at 1 p.m.
THE MATCH-UP: Both Florence and Thorp will be making their first appearance in the 8-player championship game. Florence qualified for the football playoffs all five seasons of the tournament. Prior to this season, the Bobcats’ furthest advance in the bracket was to the second round in 2018. Before transitioning to 8-player, they qualified for the 11-player playoff field 27 times. They were State runners-up in Division 5 in 1987. The Bobcats are the champions of the Northern Border Conference this fall. They cruised past Oakfield 40-12 in their Level 3 match-up to advance to the championship game. Thorp has qualified for the playoffs for the first time. Prior to the transition to 8-player, the Cardinals qualified 16 times in the 11-player playoffs. They won the Division 6 championship in 1993 and were runners-up in 1994. Thorp placed second in the East Division of the Central Wisconsin Conference this season. The Cardinals advanced to the title game following a 16-13 win over McDonell Catholic in their Level 3 game.
FACTS & FIGURES: There were 65 programs sponsoring 8-player football in 2023 and 47 were tournament eligible. There are several schools participating in the 8-player program that are ineligible for the post-season tournament because their three-year average enrollment exceeds 200, which is the threshold to be eligible for the 8-player tournament.
KEY DIFFERENCES IN THE GAME: In addition to only eight players on the field for each side, the game differs slightly from the 11-player format both in the field configurations and playing rules. The eight-player field is 40 feet (13.3 yards) and the distance between the hash marks are narrower than the 11-player field. The playing rules differ from 11-player in that there must be at least five players on the offensive line of scrimmage at the snap. Each player that is at the end of the line of scrimmage and each of the three players behind the line of scrimmage are eligible and may have any legal jersey number.
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