West Grand poised for move to 8-man
October 22, 2009
Some 50 or 60 West Grand parents and students came out Tuesday night, Oct. 20, to learn more about the high school’s likely move to the 8-man football conference.
Coach Chris Brown provided basic information and statistics about West Grand’s team and the 8-man conference before opening up the discussion to parents and students.
Brown said he wanted to leave the decision up to the students but clearly favored moving to a conference where the Mustangs could be more competitive.
While he would prefer to have 250 students in the school and play an 11-man team, Brown said: “I also want to win Powerball, dome the football complex and give large scholarships to graduating athletes.”
Brown urged students and parents not to see the move to 8-man football as humiliating but rather to embrace it as a new opportunity for success.
On moving Dove Creek to 8-man football, Ken Soper, Colorado’s number two most-winningest coach, said: “At first we met with some pretty vocal opposition in the community from some old players. Now our fans love it. Our kids love it. We can once again compete. We saved our program.”
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For West Grand, which didn’t win a league game in 2008 and may repeat that record again this year, the shift in conferences could make the game more fun for the players, Brown said.
“Getting your butt rolled every week is not so much fun,” said coach Mick Holmes of Dayspring Christian who won the state championship in the 8-man conference last year, in a letter to Brown.
A few older football players wondered how tough the learning curve would be for their last year playing high school football and how the positions would be readjusted.
Jeremy Jones, who played at West Grand and coached an 8-man team elsewhere told Tuesday night’s crowd: “Football is football is football.”
Some parents questioned whether leaving 11-man was the best thing in the long run with, by all accounts, one of the strongest 8th-grade football teams the school has seen in recent history rising to the high school level next year.
Brown said that its hard to know for certain how many of those 12 kids will still be playing as juniors in high school. Without several strong classes behind them, it would be hard to raise the skill level of the entire team enough to warrant playing up, he said. If they are forced to play longer stretches in a tougher conference as freshmen, some may risk burning out on the sport before they even reach their peak, Brown said.
“One class isn’t going to save the football team,” agreed one parent.
Some parents also worried about playing time.
“If you don’t play at the level you qualify for you’re doing a great disservice to your players. If it’s an ego thing, get over it,” said coach Don McGatlin of Miami-Yoder in a letter to Brown.
If the team is as big as expected next year with 40 players, then the coaches could run special teams or platoons, and players would have the opportunity to rest more and specialize in positions, Brown said.
“The top 8-man teams in the state have more than 40 players,” Brown said.
There would also be enough players to field a JV team, giving younger players the opportunity to get more playing time and hone their skills before starting on the varsity team.
A lack of players this year forced the West Grand football program to cancel the rest of its JV season.
Brown added that several powerhouse 2A teams are dropping down to 1A conference next year, increasing the competition there.
Conference assignments are re-evaluated every two years and if enrollment grows in the coming years the team may have to move back up.
“Predicting the future is hard. I would have never thought we would be this low in enrollment and talking about 8-man football,” Brown said.
If the team decides to petition to stay in 1A, it must do so before the Nov. 10 deadline. Otherwise, it will automatically move to the 8-man conference.
– Reid Armstrong can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610 or email@example.com.
In the 1990s, weightlifting classes helped the football team’s overall performance, explained West Grand High School head coach Chris Brown, who recently brought a weight training program back to the school to help improve student’s overall conditioning. Here is a comparison of how many football players could accomplish various physical challenges then and now:
Challenge 1990s Now
40-yard-dash in under 5 secs 20+ 3
200-pound benchpress* 20 1
200-pound curl* 15 0
300-pound squat* 20 0
*or 1.5 times weight
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