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Jim's Jottings

A Jottings re-run: Playing 6-man football

Morrice High School, 1940-42

October 20, 2010 - A Jottings re-run: Playing 6-man football

(Since we are now in the height of the high school, college and professional football seasons, I thought it would be nice to rerun this column from August 22, 1965. -- Jim Sherman, Sr.)

Being a plus-200 pounder and it being football season, I'm often asked if I played football. When I answer, "Yes, 6-man football," I get such a dumb look back that I don't bother explaining. However, I will bore you with the details.

During my three years at Morrice High School, 1940-42, we didn't have 11 boys who wanted to play football. Other schools, Byron, Vernon, Bath, Haslett and Laingsburg found themselves in the same situation.

There were others in the state, but these schools ended up in a 6-man football league.

Don't try to pin me down on the rules. I tend to forget everything that happened yesterday, let alone 23 years ago.

However, the line was made up of a center and two ends. There was a quarterback and two halfbacks. I always wanted to play end. Pass catching, was for me, so the coach named me quarterback.

One of the rules I remember was that the ball had to be handled twice in the backfield on a run play. I think we also had to go 15 yards for a first down, the field was narrower and shorter than 11-man fields.

The only thing smaller was the crowds. Nobody in my family ever saw me play and only two guys from the school, who I see once a year, remember me at Morrice, so, you'll likely not be able to dispute me being an all-star or All-leaguer.

I'll get to the two guys, Bob Jarrard and George Talbot, of Lansing and Perry, respectively, before you do to refresh their memory.

Actually, the only reason I played was because just 8 guys went out for football at Morrice. Two were even more timid than I, so I played all of the games.

Plays drawn up by our coach were used on our first offensive thrust of each game. After that Jarrard and Talbot, the two halfbacks made up plays in the huddle. These two backs loved to run. Each urged "Gimme the ball" for every play.

I made one great defensive play in Morrice High. On a tackle, I thrust my head in the ball carrier's stomach, the webbing in my helmet broke, pushing it down over my eyes, and that's the last I saw of the game, because there were no substitutes and only one helmet per player.

I had one memorable offensive play. Talbot decided to have the quarterback, me, go out for a pass. My big chance. He threw it perfectly, I caught it and gained about 25 yards.

I remember looking at the bench (sidelines, we needed no bench, one chair for the coach would have seated all) and the coach was yelling, "No! No! No! Not again!"

He must have known if we found a play that worked we'd call it twice in a row. And, we did. Talbot threw it, and I was smashed.

I wish I could remember our record for those years. There's only one game I recall winning. That was against Bath, and it was a big upset.

Now, all the teams that were in our league play 11-man football, except Vernon.

During the football season of 1942 our family moved from Morrice to Vernon. Vernon was the last game on Morrice's schedule that year and when it was over I just walked to my new home, uniform and all.

We didn't know it, but that was the last year for football or any other high school sport in Vernon.

When we nine seniors were graduated from Vernon High, it was closed.

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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