BURRTON — The Burrton High School football team will be the first in Harvey County in the modern era to move to six-man football beginning with the 2020-21 school year.
Burrton currently plays eight-man football.
The move by the Chargers brings the number of teams expected in the state at the six-man level at 15, joining Ashland, Cheylin, Cunningham, Deerfield, Fowler, Golden Plains, Moscow, Natoma, Northern Valley, Pawnee Heights, Rolla, Greeley County, Weskan and Western Plains (in a cooperative agreement with Healy).
Burrton and Cunningham are both members of the Heart of the Plains League. Cunningham also is new to six-man.
Ashland and Pawnee Heights are both members of the SPAA-Iroquois Activity Association.
Deerfield, Fowler, Moscow and Rolla are members of the Santa Fe Trail League.
Cheylin, Northern Valley, Golden Plains, Weskan and Western Plains-Healy are all members of the Western Kansas Liberty League.
Natoma is in the Northern Plains League. Greeley County plays in the Northwest Kansas League.
Burrton will be the farthest east of Kansas’ six-man squads. It’s nearest opponent will be Cunningham at 63 miles, Pawnee Heights at 105 miles, Natoma High School at 144 miles and Ashland High School at 150 miles. The farthest six-man schools for the Chargers will be Weskan at 299 miles and Cheylin at 306 miles.
Burrton has an enrollment of 70 students. Currently, the largest six-man school by enrollment is Golden Plains at 61. The smallest are Weskan and Western Plains, each at 29.
Burrton currently plays eight-man football and has 16 players listed on the roster. The team is 0-3 and is on a 20-game losing streak, including a forfeit last year when the team didn’t have eight healthy players for the game.
While most of the teams in Kansas have started play within the last five years, Herndon played six-man in the early 2000s against Nebraska teams, finishing as the Nebraska state runner-up, before consolidating with Atwood to form Rawlins County High School.
The sport is also played in Alabama, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho (two schools), Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.
Kansas schools are currently permitted to play teams from Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming as long as the travel to or for that opponent is 500 miles or less (straight line) from the nearest point from the Kansas border.
The game was developed in 1933 in Chester, Neb. It is played on a field 80 yards by 40 yards, similar to eight-man. Scoring is the same as in both 11-man and eight-man, with the exception of extra points, where a kick is worth two points and a run or pass worth one.
A team needs to gain 15 yards for a first down
The player who receives the snap from center isn’t allowed to cross the line of scrimmage until the ball is possessed by another offensive player. All six players are eligible receivers.
Like in eight-man, games are ended early if a team leads by 45 points or more at halftime or in the second half.
The sport is not sanctioned by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, which issued a statement last year that it will sanction a championship when there are a minimum of 24 teams sponsoring the sport.
While there is an enrollment cap of 100 for eight-man schools, KSHSAA has no cap for six-man schools, though one could be developed if the sport is sanctioned.
KSHSAA rules still apply to the number of games allowed and the player.
At the end of the regular-season, there is a post-season playoff that ends with the Wild West Bowl in Dodge City, the state’s unofficial state championship and third-place games.
Weskan is the defending Wild West Bowl champion, defeating Golden Plains 75-44.
The first Kansas Six-Man Football All-Star Game was held June 8 at Thresher Stadium on the Bethel College campus.