Craig Remsburg column: All-U.P. 8-man grid honors bad idea
Some may say football is football, whether it’s the high school 11-man or eight-man version.
It isn’t. Besides the obvious difference in the number of players participating, the field is smaller, the game strategies aren’t the same and the scores are not comparable.
Where in 11-man prep football you might have 18-6 and 14-12 final scores, in 8-man it’s sometimes 74-42 or 56-28. It’s easier to score with three fewer defensive players on the field.
At the annual Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association football meeting on Oct. 31, association members voted five eight-man players to the All-U.P. Small School honor squad.
The year before, five eight-man gridders also made the list.
The UPSSA doesn’t pick an eight-man All-U.P. football team since there are only six schools in the peninsula that offer the sport. More teams may be on the horizon, but as one astute UPSSA member said, “We’re not there yet.”
Besides, a majority of UPSSA members haven’t recently – or never have – covered an eight-man game in person.
Many vote to fill the All-U.P. squad with players they’ve never seen, of course, but they’ve still witnessed the skills of many 11-man players.
The Bridge Alliance Conference, in which the six U.P. schools along with two downstate teams compete, selects its all-league squads. This fall, the BAC named 22-man First and Second Team offensive and defensive units.
That’s for a conference in which only eight players line up on either line of scrimmage and just four of the eight teams posted winning records.
There may some great athletes in the BAC, but none should be voted to the All-U.P. Small Schools list of honorees.
An eight-man QB’s stats, for example, are going to be greater than an 11-man signal caller’s with three fewer defensive players on the field.
It’s like comparing the NFL to Arena Football. You just can’t put them on equal ground.
Perhaps the BAC end-of-season selections should be recognized by the UPSSA as the All-U.P. squad for that sport.
Or, why not have an All-U.P. Eight-Man Offensive Player of the Year, a Defensive Player of the Year and a Lineman of the Year selected by UPSSA members who watch the sport on a regular basis?
There’s no doubt eight-man football has its place in the scheme of prep sports. Honoring peninsula athletes for their skill is never a bad idea, either.
But putting eight-man players on the All-U.P. 11-man honor squads is, however.
Craig Remsburg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 251. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.