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Northern 8 Football Conference opens play in its first season

Danbury, Holgate, Stryker and Toledo Christian form the four-school conference
Published: Aug. 28, 2020 at 1:22 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Ohio’s first eight-man football conference opens its season this weekend.

Toledo Christian football coach Andrew Skeels and athletic director Tim Wensink invested a lot of time helping to create the Northern 8 Football Conference

“How it worked out with Stryker and Holgate and Danbury, how we got together and created that,” Wensink said. “Knowing we just did it for the kids. Giving them that, ’Hey, league championship, it’s out there. We can get it.’”

Similar to the NFL schedule, the four schools in the Northern 8 Football Conference will play each other twice. Currently, the Ohio High School Athletic Association does not sponsor an eight-man football playoff. So the Northern 8 Football Conference will hold a first and third place game for the conference championship in week ten.

“It’s super exciting,” Toledo Christian quarterback Trevor Wensink said. “Just being able to go out every week and knowing that there’s something on the line.”

Eight man football is eight players from one team playing on offense or defense instead of the traditional eleven.

Toledo Christian played an independent eight-man schedule last fall.

“Last year we had to do different things to motivate the kids,” Tim Wensink said. “Because there was no league championship.”

“Really it was getting the kids to understand we don’t have those rivalries yet,” Skeels said. “Trying to convenience them we are starting something new. So the motivation to play Ottawa Hills, play Northwood or play (Cardinal) Stritch, that wasn’t there. So we had to find different ways to play the new teams.”

Because of the numbers on each side of the ball and the smaller field dimensions, eight-man football provides plenty of scoring - similar to arena football. Michigan has nearly 100 teams playing eight-man football, plus states from Florida to Kansas and Oklahoma all have eight-man football leagues.

“You might have one person or two people - we call them’ the ’Good ol’ boys,’ - that (they say), ’Oh, there’s only one side of football.’ That’s not the case,” Tim Wensink said. “If that was the case, 11-man was the only way to go, then you’re pretty much tunnel vision.

“School isn’t about just the reward of playing 11-man football. School is about developing and creating an atmosphere for those high schoolers to remember those times.”

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