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Though Schlarman has been part of a football cooperative with Hoopeston Area and Armstrong-Potomac the last six seasons, the Hilltoppers have solo history to look back on — namely state championships in 1980 and 1981. Matt Blurton gets to head a revival of Schlarman football, as an 8-man group starting this year. The former HASAAP coach discussed the change:

Where did the idea for 8-man football at Schlarman come from?

It was always kind of our plan: We would get enough kids, enough interest and have our own program. Eight-man started last year and gave us a new opportunity to branch out on our own. It kind of worked out well for us.

What has turnout been like in the early going?

We’ve got about 20 kids interested in playing. We’ve started summer workouts, but we’re still battling baseball and trying to get everyone on the field. It’s about what I expected. The kids have been really committed to the weight room since we’ve talked to them.

How important to you is it to be involved with the new Schlarman football?

It was always my dream and my goal to get football back at Schlarman because it is a rich history and a rich tradition. It’s a great atmosphere for a Friday night — just that vibe. It’s just exciting to get this going again.

Had you ever played or coached 8-man football before this?

No, and all my assistants are the same way. We’ve kind of had to learn as we go. It’s been really fun. We’re really enjoying learning with the kids as they are, too. It’s a lot more offensive. When you’re scheming things, you’re always like, man, I wish we had one more person. I think it’s going to be high-scoring, fun, back-and-forth football.

How much are you looking forward to the home opener, Sept. 20 against Milford/Cissna Park?

I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it. I told the boys, all this hard work in the summer, when we walk out there on Friday night and play Schlarman football again, they’ll never forget it.

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).

Prep Sports Coordinator

Colin Likas is prep sports coordinator at The News-Gazette. His email is clikas@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@clikasNG).