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Eight-Player Football By-Laws


Football is a sport uniquely suited to developing certain important traits in young people, among them discipline, teamwork, perseverance, and courage.  Eight-player football preserves all the football-specific experiences of the eleven-player version but, obviously, requires a smaller roster. Moreover, while high school participants in eight-player teams have gone on to compete in college and even professional football, eight-player opens the sport to more students who haven’t played before arriving in at our schools while not necessitating that we depend on, recruit, and aid students with extensive football experience.

Eight-player football is full-contact, tackle football on a shorter, narrower field. With fewer linemen, the game is more wide-open and offense-oriented than with twenty-two players on the field.

By introducing eight-player football to New England, we hope to bring a viable, sustainable, and mission-appropriate version of the sport to our schools.  The sport will focus on student experience and access to all comers and will provide a counterpoint to the win-at-all-cost athletic cultures that pervades society and our schools.  It will more closely resemble sport at our schools prior to the advent of specialization, four season athletes, and professional athletic advisors.  It will thrive because of the enthusiasm of its players and coaches and will be driven by the age-old desire for adolescents to have fun, learn, and compete.



Sportsmanship must be the foundation on which this association is formed.  We are schools, students, and teachers before we are players and coaches, and as such, it is our obligation to instill the virtues of character and sportsmanship in our athletes.  Heads, Athletic Directors, and Coaches must put a premium on sportsmanship in this endeavor.  Further, an emphasis on positive coaching techniques in encouraged.  Participating schools are expected to adopt or adhere to a program that puts an emphasis on positive coaching (Positive Coaching Alliance or an equivalent).



Participating schools will rotate being the “lead” school for two years.  The rotation will begin with Gunnery for 2016 and 2017, then proceed alphabetically thereafter.  The lead school will be in charge of communication between participating schools, will be the point for logistics, and will host meetings.    


All guidelines set forth by NEPSAC regarding codes of conduct and ethics will be adhered to by participating schools.  


Participating schools will follow the NEPSAC guidelines that recommend 17 practices (inclusive of scrimmages, playdays, etc.) before their first game.  Practices may not commence prior to September 1st unless mutually agreed upon by participating Athletic Directors.   


Heads of participating schools shall meet at least one time year.

  • Heads and Athletic Directors will meet shortly after the first practice to approve rosters and consider petitions, if any.

  • Heads and Athletic Directors may meet in January of each year to review the previous season.


In addition, Athletic Directors of participating schools shall meet twice a year.

  • The Athletic Director of the lead school will chair the meeting.  

  • On or around the District IV Athletic Directors meetings


Coaches of participating schools shall meet at the end of each season.

  • The chair of this meeting will be the coach (or designated representative) from the “Lead” school. The chair of the meeting will report to the Athletic Directors all discussions and recommendations from the coaches.



Rosters shall be shared openly and freely with Heads, Athletic Directors, and Coaches prior to the season.  

  • Rosters must include birthdate, years experience with football (if any).

  • Players must be 19 or younger  by September 1 to participate.

  • Schools may petition to have a 20-year old participate.     

  • Football-centric Post Graduate students shall not participate.

  • Non-football Post-Graduates can petition to participate.

  • In the first two years of their participation in 8-player football, schools may submit a total of five (5) petitions requesting participation by non-football PGs or players over 19.  Beyond that, schools may submit no more than three (3) petitions a year.

  • Participating schools agree to evaluate regularly the role in this initiative of students repeating grades. Participating schools agree that actively recruiting repeat students for the purpose of seeking a competitive advantage over other teams violates the spirit of the eight player initiative.Petitions require approval of 75% of the Heads of participating schools.


Enrollment and Recruiting

Particularly in the early years of 8-player football in New England, participating schools may want to consider traveling together to feeder schools to promote the sport.  

  • Off-site/active football-specific recruiting by coaches is not allowed.  

  • Coaches or Admissions Officers shall not recruit at camps, combines, etc.  

  • Heads and Admissions Offices are encouraged to promote the sport at feeder schools and to urge potential applicants to reach out to coaches.

  • Any recruitment efforts of coaches (even if part of an Admissions Staff) at feeder schools, must be shared with the Athletic Directors and Coaches of participating schools.   

  • Recruitment of football-focused PGs is not allowed.


Coaches and Scouting

  • Schools will be limited to 4 football coaches.

  • Coaches may be added as programs expand in number.    

  • In keeping with the spirit of the league, film is only to be used for educational purposes and not principally to identify tactical advantages, but rather to teach students the game of eight-player football, and to ensure teams are organized for game play.

  • Programs may film for internal purposes or in the interest of generating film for college recruiting.  

  • Coaches or other representatives of teams may not watch other teams practice or play in advance of their contests.  



Teams traveling over 2 hours and 45 minutes (one way) shall play at a neutral site.  Other 8-player football schools should be considered as ideal neutral sites given field dimensions, etc.  



  • Teams will play on a 80-yard by 40-yard field with 10-yard end zones.  

  • Lines shall be painted on the field to delineate boundaries.

  • Where lines are not painted, cones and pylons shall be used to delineate boundaries.

  • Yardage markers are required on the sidelines.

  • Where fields do not have permanent or temporary goalposts on both ends of a field, teams shall be oriented to one end for field-goal and extra-point attempts.  



The Athletic Director of the home team is responsible for procuring officials familiar with 8-player football.   



Participating schools shall notify other schools no later than January 1st of their intent to make any of the following changes:

  • To the upcoming year’s schedules

  • Leaving the initiative


Consideration of adding new schools to the initiative will be made by Heads of School and require 75% of the participating Heads to approve any additions.


Schedule & Playoffs

Practices may not begin earlier than the Tuesday after Labor Day, and the final game may not be played later than the second Saturday of November. Consideration of one or more playoff games is up to the discretion of the participating schools, but any playoff cannot require that schools start practices before Labor Day or play later than the second Saturday in November, and the NEPSAC guideline for practice days prior to the first game must be observed.



A playoff game will be played in the inaugural year

Teams would be seeded (#1-#4) by record. Teams 1 & 2 and teams 3 & 4 will play on November 12, 2016.  


Tiebreaker procedures

  • If there is a two-team tie and the winner of the head-to-head competition shall be declared the #1 seed;

  • If the teams are still tied, then the team with the least amount of points scored against them shall be declared the #1 seed;

  • If the teams are still tied, a coin toss shall be used as the final tiebreaker.

When three or more teams are tied:

  • If there is a three-team tie, the team with the best cumulative record involving games with the tied teams shall be declared the AQ.  For example, if a team is 4-0 against two other tied teams, that team shall be declared champion;

  • If two or more team are still tied, then the team with the least amount of points scored against them shall be declared the #1 seed;

  • If the teams are still tied, a coin toss shall be used as the final tiebreaker.


Mercy Rule

If at any point in a game, one team goes ahead by 35 points or more, referees will move to “running time” such that the game clock will not stop between plays. The clock will stop for injuries. Referees will return to standard time keeping if at any point the point differential decreases to less than 35 points.


Contact In Practices

  • Teams may conduct two live-contact practices each week during training.

  • Teams are not mandated to use both days of contact during the training period.  

  • The training period is defined as the practices that take place prior to the play day.  The play day in 2016 is scheduled for September 24.

  • After the play day, the amount of live-contact practices will drop to one day per week.  

  • Live-contact practices are defined as any practice that involves live tackling to the ground and/or full-speed blocking. A live-contact practice may occur in full pad or half pad (also known as “shell,” in which the player wears shoulder pads and shorts, with or without thigh pads).

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