UPDATE: In the comments section of this post, DPS Superintendent Daryl Schrunk wrote: "On Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 6:30 p.m. in the school library, we will be having a parent meeting to discuss bringing football back to Dorchester. This Wednesday (9/20), I will be attending a NSAA meeting in Lincoln regarding football around the state. Also, I have visited with many superintendents around the area that are highly considering six-man football. The state could potentially have 40+ six-man teams for Fall 2018." Superintendent Shrunk notes that a decision will need to be made at or around the "October board meeting" since the DPS board will "need to approve the contract with Milford or commit to six-man football." Superintendent Schrunk adds that he has "been in constant communication with the administration at Milford" regarding the situation, and that DHS has "been fortunate that Milford has allowed our students to play football. If we are unable to bring football back to Dorchester, we certainly would like to continue our football co-op with Milford so our students who wish to play football have that opportunity."
The Times has learned from reliable sources that Dorchester leaders are seriously exploring bringing back six-man football to Dorchester High School in time for the 2018 football season.
That's according to extremely reliable sources.
According to reports, school leaders are now gathering input from parents and students to gauge support for the idea.
One town resident and DHS parent told us that he supported starting six-man football next fall.
"The contract with Milford [allowing DHS to co-op with MHS for two more seasons] will need to be renewed or declined soon," the parent wrote in an e-mail. "While co-oping with Milford was a worthwhile experiment, and a few kids were able to see the playing field, busing our football kids 15 minutes away has hurt our school pride and our sense of community. Average and young Dorchester boys aren't going out. It has hurt Dorchester's football culture. It's time to get that back. I want that for my son. He wants it, too."The idea of six-man football at Dorchester is not new. Sixty-nine years ago this fall, Dorchester resumed its football program (following an hiatus in the program following the 1930s death of a DHS player) with only eleven players going out.
In the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, the Longhorns played six-man ball for ten seasons, getting better with every snap. In fact, Dorchester's six-man teams of the 1950s were quite successful. DHS alum Vern Johnson once told us that "the best six-man player DHS ever had was Jack Bruha, a two-year all-state player in the early 1950s."
DHS transitioned to eight-man football in 1959, when DHS went undefeated. (Back then, Nebraska did not have a state playoff system for football.) By 1969, Dorchester was playing 11-man football, a tradition that continued until 1991, when DHS reverted to eight-man ball and dropped in size to a Class D school. Due to fewer enrolled boys and decreased participation rates, DHS ceased to have its own football team in 2013, when it decided to co-op with Milford.
There would be challenges to starting a six-man team at DHS -- the biggest being there are only a handful of Nebraska schools currently playing the six-man game. Currently, 26 Nebraska schools play six-man ball, up from just 18 three years ago.
The six-man game is no longer sanctioned by the Nebraska School Activities Association, although that may change in the near future considering the large number of eight-man schools that are struggling to field a team.
Currently, a separate group oversees the scheduling, playoffs and championship for Nebraska's six-man football. That group of individuals and the membership have not indicated that they want the NSAA to take administrative control.
The nearest school to Dorchester participating in the state's Six-Man Football Association's Hampton, Deshler and Harvard. Most of the six-man schools are much further west, but the trend is definitely moving east.