It’s transition time for Sacred Heart football.
With limited numbers, the Gremlins have made the change from 11-man football to 8-man and the team is working to master the changes.
“Just learning the game and the new offense,” said receiver Cal Racy. “It’s a transition and everybody is getting used to it, but I think it’ll be easy once we get in the feel of things.”
The Gremlins had 15 players participating in Tuesday’s practice and expect to have 17 total players this season.
“We think that it’s a better idea for us as a team because we’re so small,” receiver Charlie Wendt said of the switch to 8-man. “We’re really trying to turn this program around.”
The Gremlins are coming off a 1-9 season, including a 70-8 loss to Skyline in districts to close out the season.
One of the biggest adjustments is for the linemen.
The schemes change with just three players on the line, but it also creates more competition at that position.
“Protection is going to be key,” said coach Ben Lyles. “Picking up some of the blitzes and things. Some adjustments where you don’t get to run double team calls that you had before.”
Lineman Jake Smothers said he thinks the transition is going well for the big men up front.
“The adjustment is pretty high because we have to learn a whole new playbook, but I think we’ll be alright,” he said.
To help the situation, assistant coach Caleb Crooker brings his knowledge of 8-man football from Northwest.
“He’s been a big help, a big key,” Lyles said. “Obviously with Northwest playing 8-man the last several years, he brought a quite a bit of knowledge of the game and also some of the offensive formations.”
Along with the number of players on the field and the schemes, Sacred Heart will adjust to the size of the field, which is 40 yards wide instead of 53 1/3 yards and is 80 yards long.
The Gremlins will play at Tigers Stadium and will be able to mark the playing field with special tape.
“We’ll have to do a few adjustments to the field with some field tape and things we’ve bought that won’t damage the field,” Lyles said.
Teams will also have an option for field goals because only one side of the field will have the goal post in the correct spot.
“That’s an option to walk ends when you kick a football or you can actually just move up to that spot,” Lyles said.
But overall, the team has had the time to make the needed adjustments and is focused on trying to build the program back up.
“We had a camp the two weeks before the dead period and we got a chance to kind of install,” Lyles said. “It’s a pretty big transition. It’s more than just taking three guys off the field. The rules change a little bit, the field is a little bit smaller.”