The JFL just wants you to play.
Even if you don't have 11 kids to form a team.
The Junior Football League of Central Illinois has made a significant change this summer by offering teams the chance to play 8-man football.
That move is targeted at smaller, outlying areas that just don't have enough kids signed up to play the game in its traditional 11-man form.
"We are not promoting the 8-man game at all, that's not what this is about," JFLOCI vice-president and Richwoods club director Dave Hoyle said. "We want tackle football played with 11.
"But there are areas where they just don't have enough kids, so we're offering them the 8-man option because we want to make sure kids have the opportunity to play the game.
"Marshall County, for example, is one of our areas that will likely be an 8-man team this season."
Hoyle says it's unlikely that 8-man teams will be scheduled to play 11-man teams, but if they do cross paths on the field, the larger team will be required to play the 8-man format for that contest.
The JFL has made some other changes for this summer, including age-based divisions -- which is the national trend -- and the addition of a playoff format.
"It's the first time in 40 years we'll have a playoff system," said Hoyle, whose league includes 22 area teams. "It's all being done to generate more interest and support for the game. It's working, because we're getting calls from areas like Rockford and Decatur that want to join our league."
Age groups are set up for 8 year olds, 9-under, 10-under, 11-under, 12-under and 14-under. Flag football is available for kids aged 5-7, and the cheerleading program remains in place as well.
The league requires an area team to have 15 kids signed up to qualify as an 11-man format. Teams must have at least 10 players available to field an 8-man format.
Registration information, rules, age group divisions and more are available on the JFL's website at www.jfloci.com.
That's all for Cleve In The Eve on Friday, July 12, 2019.
Here's your sports quote of the day:
"The saddest day of my life was the day I didn't get to play football anymore."
— Brian Bosworth
Dave Eminian covers the Rivermen and Chiefs for the Journal Star, and writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.