With a state population of under one million and the largest city of Billings bursting with just 100,000 people, it’s not surprising that Montana has 28 high schools that play six-man football.
M mentioned this fact to me yesterday and I am now informed of yet another bit of trivia about “The Treasure State”. Six-man football was started during the Great Depression in 1934 in Chester, Nebraska by a teacher named Stephen Epler. It was developed with the hope that it would give kids in rural communities, at smaller schools, a chance to play football as well as saving on equiment costs. They play on an 80-yard field instead of 100 and need to make 15 yards for a first down instead of 10.
Seventy years later, six-man football has withstood the test of time in ranch and farm towns. There are 12 schools in Nebraska, 21 in Colorado, 10 in Wyoming, and 9 in New Mexico that play the game. It has become a growing sport in Texas with the Lone Star State having 126 public schools that play six-man teams and 100 private schools that do.
It seems most of my life I’ve lived near a high school football stadium and Kalispell has been no exception. Although I am not a football fan, crisp chilly nights and hearing cheering fans at “Friday Night Lights” make autumn a special time of year.