Nine-man football

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Not to be confused with Nine-a-side footy or Rugby nines.

Nine-man football is a type of American football played by high schools that are too small to field teams for the usual eleven-man game. In the United States the Minnesota State High School League, North Dakota High School Activities Association and South Dakota High School Activities Association hold high school state tournaments in nine man football.

The size of the playing field is often smaller in nine-man football than in eleven-man. Some states opt for a smaller, 80 yards long by 40 yards wide field (which is also used in eight-man and six-man); other states keep the field of play at 100 yards long while reducing the width to 40 yards or play on a full-sized playing field. In games played on 80-yard fields, kickoffs take place from the 20-yard line rather than from the 30-yard line.

A similar nine-man modification of Canadian football is played on 100-yard fields (as opposed to the 110-yard standard field for that sport) by small schools in the province of Saskatchewan and has been proposed, but not yet adopted, in Alberta. This format of tackle football is also now played in British Columbia community/minor football at age groups from 8 to 15 years old. It is the standard format of play for 8- and 9-year-olds. The format is similar for 5,6,7 year old flag football where the field is reduced to 50 yards by 50 yards.

The rules require that the offense align 4 players in the backfield and 5 on the line of scrimmage. A standard I formation has a quarterback, a fullback, a tailback and five linemen. Usually the outside linemen are a tight end and a wide receiver, but it varies by formation. The fourth player in the offensive backfield often plays as an additional wide receiver or tight end.

A common defensive formation is the 4-3-2, with four defensive linemen, three linebackers, and two defensive backs.

The games are frequently high-scoring because the number of players is reduced by more than the size of the field; thus fast players usually find more open space to run within the field of play.

Some leagues, like the Sunday Football League in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have used 9-man football as a way of furthering their "Passion to Play". They play 16 games seasons and keep full stats. Their format differs slightly in field size, but formations are similar with the exception of a "lurker" in the deep backfield. Typically the lurker will lead the team in interceptions and spy the quarterback on the deep ball.

In France, most competitions are played nine-man : games and leagues involving 19-year-old players or younger, division 3 (Le Casque d'Argent) and regional leagues. Blocking under the belt is strictly forbidden under nine-man French rules, but the field size remain the same as in eleven-man football.

The Junior division (under 18's) of every state in Australia also play nine-man football. The game is played on a full-sized field, with modified timing rules (10 min quarters, running clock except the last 2 minutes of each half).

In Norway, Division 1 games are traditional 11-man games while Division 2 games utilize 9-man football.

In Italy and Argentina, there are also 9-man leagues.

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