football can be tough to picture if you've never visited the Great Plains. So
Grant Levin, Kensington ( Kans.) High's star senior tailback and linebacker,
created a visual aid to help him land a scholarship. Levin put together a
11/2-hour DVD of personal highlights for Division I colleges. "I wanted to
show that I could play anywhere," Levin says.
The brand of
football coaches see on Levin's disc may look like a novelty, but it is
actually a necessity in states such as Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas, where
populations have declined because of changing agricultural conditions, mainly
the rise of corporate farming. Some parts of Wyoming and Montana have combined
two or more schools to form eight-man teams (see box). The game isn't a tough
sell. "There aren't a whole lot of other things to do here," says Jerry
Voorhees, the coach at Kensington, a school with about 40 high-school-age boys.
"If you're not playing sports, you're probably working on a farm."
eight-man, like the eight-man played in 14 states, adheres to most of the rules
of regular football--though the field is 40 yards shorter and 13 1/3 yards
narrower. There are five down linemen, and everyone plays both ways. On
offense, players at either end of the line are eligible receivers. Having six
fewer players opens up the field and results in more scoring.
Kansas enforces a
mercy rule: If a team gets ahead by 45 points in the second half, the game is
over. In its first five games this season, undefeated Kensington has seen the
third quarter only twice. Levin has made a habit of putting games out of reach.
His solid 6'2", 185-pound frame and 4.47 speed have served him on both
sides of the ball: He has 27 tackles and three interceptions and leads the team
in rushing (with 698 yards on 36 carries) and touchdowns (23). Kansas, Kansas
State and Missouri are among the schools to express interest in him since
seeing his highlight reel. His toughest adjustment in college, he says, will be
sitting for part of the game. "It'll definitely be easier to play one side
of the ball," Levin says, "but it won't be nearly as fun."