8-Man All-Stars Prepare For Saturday's Game - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

8-Man All-Stars Prepare For Saturday's Game

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Rice Lake's Pug Lund Field will play host to Saturday's All-Star Game Rice Lake's Pug Lund Field will play host to Saturday's All-Star Game
North QB/DB Brett Baker (New Auburn H.S.) North QB/DB Brett Baker (New Auburn H.S.)
North head coach Don Kendzior (Luck H.S.) North head coach Don Kendzior (Luck H.S.)
North OL/DL Owen Benson (Bruce H.S.) North OL/DL Owen Benson (Bruce H.S.)

Rice Lake (WQOW) -- This past high school football season looked a little different for 16 schools across the state. 8-man football was played in Wisconsin for the first time since the 1970's. This Saturday, it's another first -- the first 8-man All-Star Game.

"It's the same game. You still have to tackle, you still have to block," says Luck head coach Don Kendzior, who will coach the North team on Saturday.

The WIAA implemented the change to 8-man football this past season to allow school's with declining enrollment to still be able to field a team.
 
"Right now if we were to go and play 11-man football, we probably wouldn't be able to field an 11-man team. Just because we only have 18 kids out," adds Kendzior.

"8-man, you think about it, it's not a very exciting thing at first. You think that people think less of our football team," says Bruce senior lineman Owen Benson. "But really our town has gotten behind us more because we're succeeding more, playing against schools at our own level, it really levels the playing field for us."

In 8-man football, the field is shorter and more narrow, and there are three less players on the field at a time. But coaches and players say the game itself is very much the same, with a few exceptions.

"If you're good enough to play football, you're good enough to play football," says New Auburn senior quarterback Brett Baker. "The only real difference is you have to be faster and more agile in 8-man as you would in 11-man because there is more space."

Adds Kendzior: "It's not for the bigger lineman anymore. It's a quick game now. You have to be in better shape, you have to be a better open field tackler and blocker in order to get it done."

With the state's best 8-man football players descending on Rice Lake on Saturday, Baker and Benson say the scoreboard operator better be ready.

"They can expect a lot of scoring. Every down is going to be a potential for a touchdown," says Benson.

"They're going to see a lot of scoring, a lot of touchdowns. That's what comes with 8-man," adds Baker. "You're going to see a lot of kids having fun."

The game is set for 1:00 p.m. at Pug Lund Field in Rice Lake. The South team is comprised of players from the Madison and Milwaukee areas. The North team is made up of players from Luck, Bruce, Prairie Farm, New Auburn, Northwood and Three Lakes.

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