STAB ready for return to 11-man football in season opener

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 6:36 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The St. Anne’s-Belfield football team will be hosting FUMA in its first game of the season on Friday night.

The teams will be squaring off for the first time since 2009.

The game wasn’t even possible over the last few years, as the Saints were playing 8-man football, but this season they’re making the switch back to 11-man.

“The last time I played was middle school,” says senior quarterback Nolan Bruton. “It’s been maybe four years since I truly played an 11-man football game.”

St. Anne’s-Belfield was one of a few schools to make the move to 8-man football in the fall of 2018, due to low participation numbers, and they played two years in the Virginia Independent Schools Football League (VISFL).

The Saints technically moved back to 11-man last year, but only played one game in the spring, due to the pandemic.

STAB is fully committed to full scale football this fall, and they’ll be bringing some of the lessons they learned from 8-man.

Senior RB/LB Pharaoh Harris says, “Our offense, we’re going to be playing a lot more spread. We’re going to pass the ball a lot more. We’re not going to focus on the heavy run game, but we’re still going to run the ball, and see who can stop us.”

Bruton adds, “Eight-man will really help us, in terms of running routes, running plays, and getting guys into space, now with a more open field in 11-man.”

The carryover is not limited to the offensive side of the ball.

Head coach John Blake says, “One thing we had to do is really learn to defend the field, to be honest with you. That sounds kind of silly, when you’re talking about less numbers, but there’s some things we learned defensively that I think will really translate into the 11-man game.”

The Saints will be inexperienced in 2021, but head coach John Blake says the future is bright.

“We just don’t have a lot of guys who have played varsity before, but we’ve got some talented kids,” says Blake. “We have a lot of skill kids who can really run. Hopefully we can go out there, and show what we got.”

STAB and FUMA are scheduled to kickoff on Friday at 7pm.

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