- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Dwindling enrollment and geographic challenges are forcing schools such as Centerville High School to think outside the box when it comes to their sports programs.

The declining enrollment at rural schools is creating challenges for sports programs to sustain, the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2jjaafV ) reported. During the last two-year cycle, the Centerville High School football team has had to play a junior varsity schedule.

However, Faith School activities director Doug Schauer is proposing that six-man football might help resolve the problem.

“We’re just looking down the road with our numbers going down,” he explained. “We’re trying to be proactive.”

Schauer’s idea was discussed during a football advisory committee meeting in November.

South Dakota High School Activities Association staff will be assessing interest for six-man football at a statewide athletic convention in March through a confidential survey. A formal proposal for six-man football in 2019 could reach the board of directors by next spring If the survey results show interest.

“There are really some unique situations in South Dakota where the co-op or consolidation options just aren’t there,” SDHSAA assistant executive director John Krogstrand said. “There are teams that have played non-varsity football for a couple of years because they simply didn’t have the kids to do it. Maybe six-man football allows those kids the opportunity to continue to play, to allow some of those smaller schools an option.”

Schauer’s proposal to switch to a six-man game from its 11- and nine-man counterparts is fairly radical, but it’s not entirely uncommon.

Five states had sanctioned six-man high school football in 2016, including Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. The Nebraska School Activities Association also decided in December to re-adopt the sport for 2018.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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