DESHLER – It was a typical Thursday night football game in the state of Nebraska at Deshler High School. Fans filled the stands. There were coaches yelling, touchdowns scored, a winner and a loser. The only difference was that there weren’t 11 men on each team’s side of the ball, and not eight, either. It was six on six.
The origins of six man football were actually just down the road from Deshler. It was Football Coach Stephen Epler out of Chester, Nebraska that created the game in 1934. The first game took place on September 27, 1934 at the Hebron Athletic Gridiron. More than 1,000 people witnessed the beginning of something that is played all over the country today.
There are many different rules that make six man football very fast paced, as well.
“When the quarterback has the ball, there has to be a clear handoff or a pass before they can advance the ball across the line of scrimmage. If they fail to do that, the ball is blown dead and brought back to the previous spot, just lose your down,” said Official Scott Engberg.
It is generally pretty high scoring with many different point totals compared to eight or six man.
“Other rules, obvious rule differences, everyone is eligible. There’s no eligibility rules as far as numbers on uniforms or positions on the field, so all five players other than the quarterback are eligible. It’s 1st and 15, as opposed to 1st and 10. Scoring is different. Field goals are four points, extra points if you run them in are one and if you kick them they’re two, just the opposite of 11 man and eight man. Those are probably the main differences in the rules,” declared Enberg.
The difference in style of play not only affects the players, it can affect the cheerleaders, as well.
“We can’t do 1st and 10 anymore because unfortunately it’s not 1st and 10, it’s 1st and 15. It’s a little bit more challenging, but together we can make do and succeed,” stated Senior Cheerleader Hope Flint and Junior Cheerleader Samantha Bohling.
Now, back in present day, the Deshler Dragons are trying to do something they haven’t done in a while: make the playoffs.
Entering the matchup with perennial six man powerhouse Silver Lake, the Dragons were 5-1, and tied for first place in the South Division.
It was a special night to the home crowd, as the cheerleading staff wore socks with pink ribbons on them and used pink pom-poms to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The entire Deshler community lost two staff members at the school, and the cheerleaders’ coach is a survivor of breast cancer.
In the game, Silver Lake built an early lead, which was good enough to hold off a late Dragon push to win, 74-50. Head Coach Carson Klute is building a contender, though, as last year the Mustangs defeated Deshler, 51-7.
“I’d say it’s different because each team does so much different than every other one. We’ll never play another team that does things exactly like Silver Lake and our next opponent, Wilcox, we’ll never play another team that does things exactly like them. Preparation, we try to keep our defense the same week to week, but it’s really hard to do that when every team is a little different,” exclaimed Coach Klute.
Quarterback Peyton Dubbert has been a big part of the success that the Dragons have had so far this year.
“It’s different. Well, like for me, I can’t run, but we’re adjusting good and we like it here,” said Dubbert.
It’s going to be an exciting atmosphere next Thursday night, as the Dragons can make the playoffs with a win over Wilcox-Hildreth. This is following a 2-6 season in 2014 and 1-7 year in 2015.
“It’s been awhile since Deshler’s played for something. That’s what we really told our kids. We’re tired of not playing for anything, so it’s nice to have something on the line to give us a little extra motivation. I’m excited, our kids are excited and I know our fans are excited, so I hope preparation goes well and the outcome is in our favor next week,” declared Coach Klute.
The Dragons battle with Wilcox-Hildreth will be live on NCN 21 television. It’s certainly going to be a great night in Deshler and there will plenty of drama in the football game, but Deshler has already brought a lot of six man excitement to Southeast Nebraska.