Judah Christian part of new, eight-man football league

Judah Christian part of new, eight-man football league

Less than a month after adding a football team to its stable of athletic programs, Judah Christian has found a conference to play in — but it's not part of the IHSA.

Judah will be one of at least five charter members in the new 8-Man Football Association, Tribe coach Nate Albaugh confirmed Saturday afternoon. The news was first reported by the Northwest Herald out of Crystal Lake earlier Saturday.

Judah will be joined by Alden-Hebron, Rockford Christian Life, Elgin Westminster Christian and Lake Forest Academy in the league, according to the Herald's report.

The school board at Milford, which currently co-ops with Cissna Park in football as part of the Vermilion Valley Conference, will vote on becoming the 8-Man league's sixth charter member Monday, according to the Herald. It's not currently clear whether the co-op would continue in this new league.

Superintendents at Judah Christian, Milford and Cissna Park could not immediately be reached for comment.

Eight-man football is traditionally played by schools with fewer students, as three positions are eliminated on each side of the ball. The IHSA lists Judah's enrollment at 129, while Milford and Cissna Park combine for an enrollment of 307, per the IHSA website.

Albaugh said having enough athletes to field an IHSA-capable team was a major concern for the Tribe when making a decision on how it would compete in its inaugural year of football.

"The school wanted a football program because football adds a lot to a school's culture," Albaugh said. "But ... numbers are going to be always in question. We want to make a smart decision."

Albaugh said he isn't sure how prospective Judah players will react to the school's league choice, but he's hopeful no excitement will wain from when the school first announced it would field a team.

The Tribe can expect some high travel times with the presently planned membership. Alden-Hebron is just over three hours from Judah's current location, with Rockford Lutheran Life, Elgin Westminster and Lake Forest Academy each about 2 1/2 hours away. Judah will move to a new complex at the intersection of Rising Road and Kirby Avenue for the start of the 2019-2020 school year, but that would have a small impact on driving times to the aforementioned locations.

"We don't really have a choice," Albaugh said. "I've never been afraid of travel. If it were a basketball team, we'd be more concerned. But for four days next fall, we'll figure it out."

Albaugh said he feels the eight-man movement is gaining steam, which could lead to a larger leauge in the future and decreased travel times as a result.

In addition to 16 players lining up at a time in the eight-man game instead of 22, another difference between the eight-man gridiron event and its 11-person counterpart is a narrower field. Eight-man leagues are played on fields 40 yards in width, roughly 13 yards smaller than a typical field.

According to the Herald, the 8-Man Football Association will require a $250 initial membership fee and another $150 per school year to stay involved. A four-team playoff system is currently expected, with insitutions smaller than 400 students eligible.

Sections (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
GeneralLeePeeved wrote on January 14, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Hey Colin.....has the N-G discussed how you will view the stats that the Judah players will generate?  You already have a difficult task when you try to compare players from Danville with players from Fisher......now, you'll have to factor in something that you've never had to deal with before.  I think its conceivable for a QB or a RB to put up video game stats in any given game of 8-man football.  It's not necessarily a lower quality of football being played, but how it should be handicapped against the results of the other 99.9% of the teams that are playing the 11-man version is going to be a guess at best.