Six Man Football comes to Orange
Community Christian School has a total enrollment of about 300 students. Only 50 or so of those are in high school. Realizing that there was something needed to keep students at CCS once they reached ninth grade, administrators, faculty and parents began discussing a football program. With a limited enrollment and even more limited funds the only prospect was starting a six man football program. Discussions began last November about how to make a dream a reality. In the short period of ten months the CCS Lions played their first six man game.
What happened in that ten month period is a study of dedication to a dream and thousands of hours of hard work to make the dream a reality. Once the project started, they would need everything from a field to play on, uniforms, footballs, fences, bleachers, goal posts, a scoreboard, and money–lots of money.
“We have no budget for football, every dime to start the program had to be raised from outside sources and the money to keep it going has to come from what the program can generate,” said Denise Block, CCS Administrator.
“We sent the kids out to obtain donations and they would come back to me and show me a check for $500 or $10, or in one case $5,000. It was amazing that they could raise so much money in such a short time. They were so enthusiastic about doing it and we got such tremendous community support.”
The other thing that had to be done was to find coaches and learn the fundamentals of six man football. Adam Strandberg was recruited to be the head coach.
“I am an eleven man player from Iowa. I found myself agreeing to coach six man football. I knew nothing about six man football. We found four other coaches and we went to work. We learned a little from YouTube. I contacted some coaches in West Texas that coach six man teams and several of them sent me playbooks. One guy sent his entire system of playbooks and another coach sent me 14 hours of video from his team’s archives,” said Strandberg. “Getting the players was the easy part. We had some guys here that were ready to go to work. Last spring I had two old used footballs on a shelf and now we are getting ready to play out first home game and are going to be on live TV.”
In addition to learning to play six man football, the team members had to do fund raising and do a lot of physical work to make their dream of playing high school football come true.
“The entire fence that surrounds the field was installed by the team. Those boys set every post and put all the fencing up. They also raised funds and did anything else that needed to be done while learning the game and keeping their grades up,” said Block.
CCS is playing in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). They are rated in Division 2 District 4. TAPPS is a competitive league to play in. CCS will be playing some new teams; some teams that have played six man football; and some teams that were 11 man teams who dropped back to six man. Their home opener against Chester High School is a team that dropped to six man from 11 man.
As enrollment drops some schools are finding it hard to maintain an 11 man program and are considering six man. Sabine Pass and High Island are two area districts that have lost students and are considering the change to six man.
The CCS Lions have traveled as far as Brenham this year to play. “We left our school at noon, drove to Brenham to play the game and returned here at 4:30 the next morning. That was rough,” said Strandberg.
In addition to traveling a long distance one of the fields the team played on was mostly hard dirt. After the game one of the mothers was heard to remark, “I had to hose his uniform off before I could put it in my washing machine.”
By the time the first home game was played Saturday afternoon, a few bleachers had been installed on both sides of the field, there was a temporary announcers stand, goal posts had been installed and powder coat painted. The scoreboard, which had been in six pieces on a trailer Thursday afternoon, was installed and ready for use. There were concessions for sale that ranged from hot links to foam Lion paws. Most important of all, the entire grassy field was painted with all the necessary lines, including hash marks and end field decorations. To get to this point there had been a lot of donated material and labor. The fundraising efforts had raised $24,000 to start things off.
“We have had a tremendous amount of community effort and support. It has been a team effort by so many to get to this point. We have set a high goal; we want to be the state champions. Setting a high goal makes us work harder. We are in a competitive district and we are going to do our best to make a good showing,” said Strandberg. “Our school is competitive. We have academic competition as well as athletic competition. The main goal of our school is to build a Godly character in our students as a whole. We want to have a championship level team, but we also want to build good character all around.”
Some of the things to look for in six man football are: 15 yards for a first down, the quarterback cannot run the ball across the line of scrimmage unless it has been handed off or passed to another player first, a PAT run across the goal line is only one point, a kicked PAT is worth two points, quarters are 10 minutes, the field is 80 yards long, 40 yards wide, there must be at least three men on the line, and everyone is an eligible receiver. It is also a fast moving, intense ball game.
CCS plays at home on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m., Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. and Oct. 29 at 2 p.m. Oct. 29 is the last home game of the season.