Jasper Eagles strive for improvement with move to 8-man football


JASPER, Mo. — It’s a new era for the Jasper Eagles as they transition from 11-man to 8-man football. While the change wasn’t exactly embraced by the team at first, now that the season’s here, they’re just focused on becoming a more competitive team in the 8-man division.

Change isn’t always easy to accept. But, for head coach Joey Ballard and his team, moving to 8-man was something that had to be done.

“We don’t have the numbers to continue to compete at 11, so we moved to 8-man, said Ballard.

While most elements of the game are the same, there are some things that they’ll have to adjust to.

“It’s a lot faster paced,” said senior Tanner Pankratz.

“The blocking schemes are totally different,” said senior Austin Etcheson. “It’s just a lot different to pick up those guys with a smaller line.”

“There’s a lot less people blocking for you and everything’s a lot more fast, you know?” said senior Aiden Hartgrave.

But switching to 8-man also could also present more opportunity. After going 1-9 last season, Ballard is hopeful that they’ll be able to win more games this year.

“I think this will give us not an advantage, but an opportunity to be on a more level competitive field with some of the other teams and then obviously give some guys individually the opportunity for success,” said Ballard.

While it may not be easy, the team is looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity to be a much improved football team.

“I feel like we can overcome a lot of it,” said senior Westen Vonier. “We’re still learning. We still got a lot of stuff ahead of us.”

This is also Ballard’s first year as head coach, so this season is full of new experiences for the Eagles. They’ll start their season off against Rich Hill at home on August 28 at 6:00 p.m.

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