News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

A look at the inaugural 9-man football season

This was year one of the OSAA’s experiment with 9-man football for Class 2A. I went into the season with a bit of trepidation. How would the rules work? Would the extra space on the field result in NBA-type scores? Would I perceive that the game had changed fundamentally?

I do admit that before my first 2A match, Regis vs. Grant Union, I had a conference with the officials before the kickoff. My main question was how many players had to be on the line of scrimmage. The answer was 5, which meant that both ends and all 4 backfield players were eligible receivers. Which is a huge percentage increase from 11-man in which 6 out of 11 are eligible instead of 6 out of 9. 

Yes, there were some free-wheeling teams (Regis and Colton come to mind) who moved players all around the formation and struck from a lot of directions. And there were teams such as Santiam, which generally played a 5-man line with 2 backs and 1 WR. The Wolverines still were able to score 309 points in their 9 games. And as usual with football, it is the players executing the system that tell the tale. 

Santiam Coach Josh Ruby told me that one of the challenges defensively was how exposed your defensive ends/linebackers are. With fewer players next to them and behind them, if the ball-carrier was able to turn the corner the play usually went for decent yardage. Colton took advantage of this approach in its 50-24 win vs. Santiam.

And, yes, some games were high-scoring, but the 20-8 Regis win at Santiam on Oct. 27 was just a classic hard-hitting, well-played game.

All in all, I don’t think 9-man toyed with the integrity of the game much. And if it kept football alive for some schools with smaller enrollments … well, I think that is a good thing, too.

Correction: I must note that my all-Tri-River Conference selections for Santiam in last week’s roundup were incorrect. They failed to include Trenton Stafford of Santiam as a second-team running back. I received 2 sets of the all-league file from different sources and failed to cross-reference them.  In the two Santiam games I saw, vs. Regis and Colton, Stafford rushed for 85 yards and 1 2pt-conversion (Regis) and 42 yards and 3 conversions (Colton). What should have had me calling for clarifications was the fact that on the file that excluded Stafford he was not listed as honorable mention at RB. And because everyone who is nominated at least receives HM, well, it seemed impossible that Stafford would not be  nominated. 

Stafford also was a monster at defense at his linebacker position and also definitely earned his first-team mention there.

Previous Article

Ugly Sweater run set for Dec. 3

Next Article

Free Fishing Days Nov. 25 – 26

You might be interested in …

Here is a look at the mass plywood panel lounge that Freres Engineered Wood is building for an international conference which starts Monday in Portland. Freres Engineered Wood

Freres designs lounge for Mass Timber Conference

Freres Engineered Wood is getting ready to show off its innovative mass plywood panel technology at the annual international Mass Timber Conference in Portland. The March 27-29 event, which will draw more than 2,500 attendees. […]