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Football is football

First of all I’d like to thank all the people I’ve heard from since my promotion to Senior Sports Writer was announced.

I’ve had several people ask if that means I’m no longer working for Extension and that is most definitely not the case. I continue to be a stringer for the News Herald while working full time for Cooperative Extension. I’ve just been covering sports for so long they decided I’d earned the “senior” designation.

As a sports writer one game I can’t wait for is this Friday night’s matchup of Northeast Academy and Word of God. With a trip to the state championship on the line this is sure to be a great game.

I was covering the game two years ago when Word of God ended the Eagles championship hopes on a hook and ladder play as the clock wound down. With several players from that team on the Northeast roster you can be sure the Eagles will be ready to play hardnosed football.

I can’t talk about Northeast without reminding everyone that a fundraiser will be held Saturday night at Boone’s Farm Supply in Jackson to raise money for Arch Harrell and Wesley Bryant to play in the Oasis All Star Shrine Classic on November 28.

I didn’t know until Arch and Wesley were on Gattis Hodges’ radio show that they are only the second and third players from Northampton to ever play in a Shrine Bowl – public or private school. That is quite an accomplishment, but also quite an expense. A pig will be cooking on the grill and Jackson’s own The Willie Peebles Band will be providing entertainment. The doors open at 6 p.m. so make plans to attend.

I’ll admit when I first started covering sports in the Roanoke-Chowan area I had never attended an eight-man football game. In the six years I’ve been covering our local eight man teams – Northeast, Lawrence, Hobgood and even Halifax- I’ve seen what many naysayers haven’t. Many people used to 11-man background put down eight-man as not being real football but, quite simply, they are wrong. These players work just as hard, if not harder, as they often play both sides of the ball.

A few weeks ago I stumbled across an article on ESPN’s web page about Texas’ six-man football league. That’s right; they play six-man football.

The field is shorter and it takes a 15-yard gain to make the first down.

All six players are eligible to receive or run and there must be two exchanges instead of just the snap from the center. Field goals are worth four points and point after kicks are worth two points while conversion runs or pass completions are worth one point.

While it might be easy to question the legitimacy of a six-man football team, or for some people an eight-man team, this is a way to keep football alive in smaller schools. Usually, as in the case of the four eight-man teams in our area, these schools are located in rural areas. Some of the schools in Texas that play six-man have a high school enrollment of 50.

It doesn’t matter the size of the field or the team that takes it. Football is football. At the end of the day it’s about coming together as a team and realizing the sum of the whole is stronger than the individual parts. A running back can’t score if there isn’t anyone there to block.

A quarterback can’t complete a pass if the receiver isn’t there to catch it. That’s a lesson that extends beyond the football field. That’s a lesson I see demonstrated every Friday night I’m on the sidelines.

Heather Lifsey is a Senior Sports Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. She can be reached via email at sports@r-cnews.com