CARRIZOZO – After a challenging year in which the Carrizozo eight-man football regularly fielded a squad with two – or even just one – substitutes on the sidelines, the New Mexico Activities Association has allowed the Grizzlies to drop down to six-man next season.
Coach Dale Jackson said the change is significant, as Carrizozo will still be able to compete in postseason play next year.
“We had to apply for an exemption, because usually when you change classification like that, you can’t play in the post-season,” Jackson said. “The primary reason it was approved was our numbers. We’ve got about 45 students, boys and girls, in enrollment. That’s lower than some schools that are already playing six-man.”
The Grizzlies come off a season in which they went 6-4, 2-3 in District 3. They defeated Springer in the first round before taking a huge loss to district opponent Gateway Christian in the quarterfinals.
Besides the talent of other teams, Carrizozo was playing against the superior numbers. Mesilla Valley, for example, had dropped to eight-man all the way down from Class 3A. Interestingly, the SonBlazers were allowed to play in postseason, falling to Gateway in the State semifinals.
As a result of the small numbers, Jackson was forced to play a lot of young kids – eighth grade and freshmen – and any injuries at all had a major impact.
Now, in six-man, Jackson expects the Grizzlies to be able to compete. That makes the waiver of the postseason rule that much more important.
“I always thought our top seven could play with anyone else’s top seven in the state,” Jackson said. “We just didn’t have any subs.”