Six-Man Football Is Coming To South Dakota In 2019

Last Updated by Nate Wek on

Six-man football is now a reality for high schools in South Dakota. On Thursday, the board of directors for the South Dakota High School Activities Association approved the proposal in its final reading with a 6-1 vote.

SDHSAA Assistant Executive Director John Krogstrand says despite shrinking populations in smaller South Dakota schools, this action is an effort to give all kids, despite school size, an equal opportunity.

“You know, our schools are what they are, and the population shift is what it is,” explained Krogstrand. “This really reflects an effort from our association, from our membership, to say that whether you’re going to one of our largest high schools in Sioux Falls Roosevelt, or you’re going to one of our smallest high schools scattered throughout the state – that we want you to have those same opportunities to participate in all of our activities.”

One huge difference between 11-man and nine-man football, compared to six-man football, is the shorter field. Six-man football games are played on fields that are 80-yards long and 40-yards wide.

There has been some public speculation as to whether or not the Dakota Dome in Vermillion, SD could re-line their field to accommodate a six-man football championship game. From the sounds of it, this shouldn’t be an issue either.

“Luckily for us, in talking with the University of South Dakota, they have hosted 8-man football from Nebraska in the dome before, which is also on an 80-yard field,” said Krogstrand. “All we’re really going to have to do at this point is to work with [USD] to incorporate that temporary marking, a temporary goalpost type of set up to accommodate a temporary field inside the dome.”

Schools eligible to move down to the six-man football class will need to have a three-year male enrollment of below 40 students. Currently, there are over 90 schools in South Dakota who would fall under this category.

That’s not saying 90 teams will move down to six-man football, as a lot of schools right now are in co-ops to play nine-man football – and a chunk of schools will likely remain in their current co-ops. This new implementation is catered more to schools who are struggling to field a football team at the present time, and to schools where a co-op situation isn’t ideal; long distances between locations has made the co-op option difficult for some schools

Fans will still have four 11-man classes - that won’t change. However, instead of three classes of nine-man football, one will transition to a six-man class. 

This new rule change will go into effect for the fall season of 2019.

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