Peoria Punishers Thriving On Eight-Man Football

Local Sports

They are the Peoria Punishers.

For about 15 years they’ve played in an 8-man football league which includes teams from Illinois, Missouri and Iowa.

“It’s played really closer to high school football,” said team owner Rick Remelius. “It’s eight guys (on the field) instead of 11. It’s set up to score a lot of points and it’s usually a faster game.”

Most of the Punishers players are in their twenties. The games are played with high school rules, in four 12-minute quarters but on a 60-yard field.

There’s still plenty of running, passing and hitting. The Punishers play their hime game at the East Peoria JFL field.

“You only have three offensive lineman, not five,” said Punishers coach Tyler Snyder. “You get to the quarterback quicker. It’s a lotof man-to-man defense. The best person usually wins.”

Eight-man football is a hot tpoic with high school coaches and administrators. With participation numbers shrinking, three area high schools will make the move to the 8-man game in 2020.

In 2017, five schools in Illinois played 8-man football. The number will grow to 14 teams this fall.

“I see it happening in hihg school football, especially the small schools,” said Snyder. “I know a lot don’t want it to happen but schools can’t put out the numbrs they used to. It’s going to go to 8-man in smaller schools.”

Snyder played high schoool football at IVC. Punishers running back Justin Miller played at El Paso-Gridley and understands prep football is a numbers game.

“I don’t think the sport is going anywhere,” Miller said. “But for smaller schools, I can see where it’s possible becuase of the smaller numbers. It can work.”

It’s worked for the Peoria Punishers years.ecades. And 8-man football could be coming to a high school near you.

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