One Graham's View

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Six Man, Texas: More than just a movie

Good morning,

A unique aspect of the Friday Night Lights in Texas is the small stage, namely six man football.

If you’re like many and unfamiliar with six-man football, let me share a bit with you. In small communities where they don’t have the enrollment to sustain a typical team with 11 players on each side of the ball, there remains a designation that allows for a school to have a six-man squad. In Texas, there are more than 100 such schools. It is a unique slice of the pie where the play and rules vary from the norm. First, many of the kids play on both sides of the ball out of necessity. Secondly, these games are frequently very high-scoring events with final scores resembling basketball scores. Finally, the specific
rule variations
are very different than what you are used to with conventional high school football.

Two rule variations that exist in six-man that stand out to me are: The field is typically 80 yards long instead of the standard 100; and, teams must advance the ball 15 yards in four downs to get a first down, instead of the usual 10 yards.

My reason for blogging about this today is that I just read about an upcoming movie, by Texas-based NEVERTOOLATE Films, about six-man football in Texas called, aptly enough,
Six Man, Texas.

I’ve been to one six-man game in my life and I’ll never forget it, even though it happened more than 14 years ago. It was in Silverton, TX up in the panhandle, where I was visiting with a couple of good friends. It captured the spirit of what the game is all about, and from what the film’s web site leads me to believe, exactly what the film is depicting.

The movie’s web site offers the following two paragraphs to describe the film:

“Although there are many similarities among the more than 120 Texas towns whose small public high schools play Six Man Football, the film highlights the story of two schools, Three Way School in the far western region of the South Plains and Aquilla in Central Texas. Both schools are metaphors for Texas' shrinking rural economy.”

“The film focuses on public schools because they are such a vital part of small-town culture. At one time in America, public schools were the backbone of the educational system; in Six Man towns, they still are. The film highlights the many similarities among the towns whose small high schools play the game. Those similarities seem to create a community of towns united by their common priorities, the school and a passionate commitment to their children. It is as if there exists a state within a state, the state of Six Man, Texas.”

Oh, and if you need another reason to check out their web site, there is a link titled “Free Stuff” that will get you just that for the asking. I clicked on the email link to ask for mine and was surprised that it was for Alan Barber, the filmmaker responsible for the project. I quickly wrote out my request and included my memories of the game I had witnessed in Silverton and how the sense of community was as obvious as the smaller team size. An even bigger surprise in this day of impersonal, corporate dominance was that I had a reply later that day from Mr. Barber himself thanking me for sharing my personal reflections. He also said they were considering creating a blog about the film and passing along some people’s stories and memories about six-man football. So, check out the site, send in an email and share your story if you have one as well.

As a big fan of Texas high school football and with the warm memories of my one six-man game, I can’t wait to see what the film has to offer.


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