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Sports

September 20, 2013

A taste of what’s to come

Game against Duke previews what Donkeys may expect in eight-man next year

BRAY — The Donkeys are going to get a taste of what they will be playing next year.

The Bray-Doyle High School football team, currently in Class A 11-man football, will move down to Class B next and enter eight-man football.

This year, though, the Donkeys will get to experience eight-man football as they will host Duke Friday for their homecoming game.

Originally, Bray-Doyle was to host Riverside Indian, but the Class 2A school cancelled its season because of a lack of players. The Donkeys thus needed an opponent this week and found one in Duke, an eight-man squad.

So the Donkeys will take a break from 11-man action this week and spend this week preparing for eight-man — and it’s a transition that Donkey coach Lee Bluejacket admits has been a bit difficult.

“It has been tough because the reads in eight-man versus 11-man are a lot different,” he said. “You still have to block and tackle, but the reads are different.”

What’s more, the Donkeys didn’t get to take the field Tuesday because of a thunderstorm. That limted the Donkeys to practicing in the gym and thus they weren’t able to get in the type of practice they might have otherwise, Bluejacket said.

But the Bray-Doyle coach said it may help to have an eight-man game this week, given that the Donkeys are dealing with injuries to several of their linemen.

“We don’t have a lot of depth right now,” Bluejacket said, “but it will give us a chance to put fewer kids on the field, some young kids on the field, and it should help us out.”

Bluejacket added that Bray-Doyle’s enrollment would have allowed the team to play down in eight-man in years past, but the school previously chose not to. But the Donkeys will make the move to eight-man next season and it’s a move Bluejacket said the players and community are excited about.

“It has been some of the most fun time in practice, getting to play and learn eight-man,” he said. “I’m an eight-man guy and next year will be good for them to be in eight-man, because it’s a chance for them to be more successful.”

He said he was glad Duke was willing to fit Bray-Doyle into the schedule. Given that the Donkeys have played two 11-man games to open the season, Bluejacket said he didn’t exchange film with Duke coaches, given that they wouldn’t have been able to see how Bray-Doyle has played eight-man this season. But Bluejacket said he understands that Duke runs a four-man front and tries to spread the field.

More importantly, he said the Donkeys are having a good time learning what eight-man is all about.

“All of them really do like it,” Bluejacket said. “They are having a blast and are ready to do it. The underclassmen are looking forward to it and believe they will be more competitive.”

In particular, Bluejacket said, the switch to eight-man will help with depth, something that has been an issue for Bray-Doyle this season.

“The kids realize the situation,” he said, “and that’s it tough when we have about 25 guys on a team and we play some schools that have 40 guys on a team. They can rotate in guys and we’re playing like we are iron men.”

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