Sturgeon Bay excited to play 8-man football

Sturgeon Bay has moved to 8-man football this season. (WLUK)

STURGEON BAY (WLUK) -- Jim Adams and his team gathered for the first day of practice with a little more than 20 players and the Sturgeon Bay coach realized competing as an 11-man football team was not possible.

A schedule had been set for the season, which included games in the MONLPC-Large Conference, but it had to be re-worked as the Clippers were moving to an 8-man program.

It would seem Adams would know his team's situation with teams having contact days in the summer and players working out. But he didn't until the first day of camp. After the first day, it was apparent the Clippers had to move to an 8-man program.

"Due to the kids that had come out for football, signed up this year, the numbers were too low," Adams said. "I think we would've been asking too much of too few of kids; too much playing time I think from a safety standpoint. It really was very easy decision."

The Clippers were 0-8 last season and scored just 28 points. Furthermore, they have not had a winning season since 2012. Although the school has about 400 students, which would classify it likely as a Division 4 school in 11-man football, a move had to be made and the players are fine with it.

"We're playing football," junior Kellen Hacht said. "If we were playing 11-man we may have to cancel games, but we're playing football."

"I heard some talk about other schools hating on us, but most of the kids here, we're just trying to have fun and play the game so there's nothing we can do about it," junior Storm Adams said. "Football's football. I feel like either way if you're running out on this field you're having fun. Either way you're going to get hit and have to get back up."

"I think it let's us compete more evenly compared to teams that have a lot of kids," senior Austin Reeths said. "Since we're a smaller team I think it's leveling the playing field almost. So we can play to the expectations of how we want to play."

Despite the late switch to 8-man the Clippers have scheduled a handful of games, including their season opener at Oakfield on Sept. 6. As for their original schedule, teams from the MONLPC-Large receive automatic wins and can re-schedule a game on the vacant day as a practice game, or not schedule a game at all.

As for Sturgeon Bay, it's not known if it will remain an 8-man team past 2019. The Clippers have until December to notify the WIAA on a decision.

Whatever that decision is, it will not be based on potential results on the field.

"Winning and losing had no bearing on our decision at all," Adams said. "I'm quite honestly thrilled that our athletic director was able to get as many games scheduled as he did so quickly and still gaining games it sounds like, so we're just happy to be playing football."

Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay

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