(1-16-18) – The hopes of bringing 8-man football as an Illinois High School Association sport is one step closer to becoming a reality.

Illinois 8-Man Football Association has been formed featuring six schools, including two Stateline area teams, Christian Life and Alden-Hebron.


  • Alden-Hebron 109
  • Rockford Christian Life 170
  • Elgin Westminster Christian 174
  • Champaign Judah Christian 129
  • Lake Forest Academy (Associate Member of IHSA)
  • Milford 208

The I8FA asks for a $250 fee to join and $150 annually to retain membership. Only schools with fewer than 400-student enrollments will be eligible for the playoffs.

Alden-Hebron’s John Lalor, the Athletic Director and Football Coach, told Joe Stevenson of the Northwest Herald:

“We want to provide an easier way to schedule and get teams involved. And we also want to provide some type of reward, some type of playoff system at the end of the year. It gives us viability.”

For a new program at a small school 8-man football offers an opportunity to play and compete in the sport. In mid-December Champaign Judah Christian added both football and wrestling to its athletic department. 8-man football looks to be the answer for the program

Judah Christian Football Coach Nate Albaugh told the The News-Gazette why they are going in this direction:

“The school wanted a football program because football adds a lot to a school’s culture. But … numbers are going to be always in question. We want to make a smart decision.”

Sam Knox, the IHSA Assistant Executive Director in charge of football told us what the future might hold for 8-man football down the road.

Some schools with low numbers of players on their rosters that might be facing the dilemma of either forming a co-op or dropping their program altogether are likely intrigued by the possibility of another option for their students who want to play football.  8-man football is an alternative that could allow these schools to maintain a team.

A few of our neighboring states, and more states further west, have schools that play football with fewer than 11 players on the field (6-man, 8-man, and 9-man football).  As we move forward with this initiative, we can gather ideas from these states to help our schools make a smooth transition from traditional 11-man football to 8-man football.

We anticipate more schools will choose to play 8-man football in the future, but at this point, it is too early to predict where we will ultimately land.

2017 Iowa 8 Player State Championship Game – St. Mary’s vs. Don Bosco