The first Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) eight-player football State championship final will be this Saturday, Nov. 3, in Stanley at 1 p.m. 

Luck and Sevastopol are the inaugural eight-player football championship game participants, but both had 11-player programs before making the transition.

It is the first year the WIAA has sponsored a State tournament series and championship for reduced-player football, but the game has had a long history in the association. The WIAA introduced a reduced-player football option for the first time in 1937 with a six-player opportunity intended to serve small schools. 

An eight-player option was introduced a few years later, and prior to 1941, there were 90 schools playing either six- or eight-player football. World War II had an impact as the number of reduced-player teams declined to 70. In 1950, there were 50 six-player teams and 26 eight-player squads. By 1956, the eight-player game had all but replaced the six-player option as 71 programs were playing eight-player to only six schools sponsoring the six-player option. 

By 1969, almost every football program was 11-player with the number of teams playing eight-player dwindling to six. In 2012, the WIAA reinstated reduced-player football with 16 teams optioning for the eight-player format that season. For six seasons, the top four teams in two separate regions were afforded an opportunity to match up and play in a four-game jamboree at the end of the season.

This year, there were 32 programs sponsoring eight-player football prior to the season. Three programs canceled their seasons because of a lack of participation. There are an additional four schools participating in the eight-player program that were ineligible for the post-season tournament because their three-year average enrollment exceeds 200, which is the threshold to be eligible for the eight-player tournament.

Next year, Three Lakes will return to eight-man football after playing 11-man the last two seasons.

The Luck Cardinals qualified for the playoffs 14 times in either Division 6 or Division 7 with an 8-14 playoff record. Their furthest advance in the 11-player playoffs was to Level 3 in Division 6 in 1996. The Sevastopol Pioneers made their only playoff appearance in 2010, which resulted in a Level 1 loss in Division 6.

In addition to only eight players on the field for each side, the game differs slightly from the 11-player format both in the field configurations and playing rules. The eight-player field is 40 feet (13.3 yards) and the distance between the hash marks are narrower than the 11-player field. The playing rules differ from 11-player in that there must be at least five players on the offensive line of scrimmage at the snap. Each player that is at the end of the line of scrimmage and each of the three players behind the line of scrimmage are eligible and may have any legal jersey number.

For those who want to witness the first WIAA football State championship, ticket prices for the event are $8 per game for adults and $1 for children 6 years old and younger. Tickets are available at the venue the day of the game.