Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlight

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Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlight

Postby granger » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:47 pm

Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlight and on the Big Scene
By Leman Saunders


With the upcoming ESPN Documentary “6-Man”, I thought it would be a good time to review some of the past media exposure of the game we all love so well. I have done my best to compile a list of national (and international) news stories, as well as documentaries, and even the one feature film involving six-man football. I feel like I may have missed one or two; and if you know of any other items along these lines about Texas six-man football, please let me know. I have watched all of these and have tried to give a synopsis on each, with my opinions sprinkled in.

I have not included the Texas Country Reporter stories on six-man football. I know they have done at least three stories focused around six-man football; one on the 1995 Mullin team and Petey Salaiz, one on Blackwell’s 2004 football team (this one can be seen on YouTube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXVqX9H_bJk), and one entitled, “Guthrie Concession Stand” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Z6L8QSI3Jk). I do not know the original air date on these episodes.

Most outside news agencies try to explain six-man football using what I call the “shrinking town” or “dying town” narrative, meaning they try to make a correlation with these schools playing six-man football and some negative connotations that their town/school is shrinking and dying.

ABC News – Dick Schaap reporting on Trinidad’s 6-man football team – air date 11-13-1991
The famous Dick Schaap reports on Trinidad and their six-man football team. This news feature follows the shrinking town narrative. “Trinidad USE TO BE a thriving town…” is how Schaap starts this piece off as he focuses on business closures and how the football team is basically forced to play six-man football. This report features an interview with head coach Jack Shely and talks about the teams win streak and expectations for the upcoming season. There are also some interviews with town residents. Running time was about three minutes long. I do not believe this is available on YouTube.

ESPN News Story on Gordon vs Revere, CO – 1994
ESPN ran a short news item about the Gordon vs Revere, CO football game which took place mid-season in 1994 at Gordon. It was a much hyped game as I Revere, CO was one of the top six-man teams in the country and Gordon beat them 18-0. The newscast was about 5 minutes long and featured game highlights and interviews with fans from both Gordon and Revere as well as interviews with Tommy Wells, who help organize the event, and Granger. This game started a trend of Gordon playing out of state teams, including a team from Bjorkdale, Saskatchewan Canada in 1996.

Granger's Notes: The game was on a Saturday. I had been in Zephyr the night before, handing out rankings and someone from Gordon told me about the game. I decided to spend the night in Comanche then drove to Gordon to see the game.

NBC Today Show feature on Amherst’s football team – aired November 30, 1995
Jon Frankel reported on the town and football team of Amherst, TX, which ran for about five minutes on the Today Show. This clip uses the shrinking town narrative while it looks at the town of Amherst while it explains why they play six-man football. There are interviews with players and head coach Jack Shely, but mostly with town residents with some game footage mixed in. It also has footage of the legendary Dewayne Miles, who some believe may be the greatest six-man player of all-time.

Granger’s Note -- NBC decided to do this piece after the New York Times ran a piece the week before entitled, “With 6 Boys and a Football, Tiny Texas Towns Stay Alive” (http://www.nytimes.com/1995/11/14/us/wi ... alive.html). Both ABC and The Today Show called me the day the article ran and asked for towns to travel to. The footage from the piece is from the Amherst-Miami game in the first round of the playoffs.

It is available to be viewed on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ns3POwSsJTc).

Football America – NFL Films – released Thanksgiving 1996
Granger’s notes: This documentary was filmed by NFL Films. They went to various places in 1995 and filmed football on the pumice of Alaskan football fields, prison football and six-man football. It aired over a couple of nights Thanksgiving weekend a year later. It has the classic Harvey Wellman line, “there goes the senior class” when Guthrie’s lone senior walks down the hallway. Story has it that NFL Films approached Mojo to film there, but the school asked for a $20,000 fee. NFL Films ended up at Guthrie, where they were put up for free by the 6666 Ranch. I heard that Steve Sabol himself was there and all of their equipment was donated to the school. I have not been able to find the YouTube version of this.

There was an accompanying coffee table book to the project you can buy here, https://www.amazon.com/FOOTBALL-AMERICA-Didinger-Foreword-Barber/dp/B001OAFMOO. It has Odessa Permian and Guthrie together, along with the classic Texas Monthly photo of the Mullin boys.

ESPN Unbelievable Sports – Feature on 6-Man Football – aired early 1997
A nine-minute segment about the 1996 State Game focusing mainly on Gordon. This report by ESPN is mainly about the 1996 state game and uses interviews with Gordon players, coaches, and others to tell what winning the state championship meant to them and what it is like to play six-man football. This feature shows one of the controversial plays in that state game, the penalty for illegal forward pass on Gordon, but does not mention the failure of the refs to give a loss of down. The ESPN freeze frame shot shows Gordon did not committee an illegal forward pass. This segment is available to be seen on YouTube.

“The Slaughter Rule” – movie released 2002 – rated R
A full-length feature film written and directed by Alex and Andrew Smith; staring Ryan Gosling, David Morse, Clea Duvall and Amy Adams. Full disclosure…I have only seen this movie once and didn’t really enjoy it. It is an Independent film that centers around a football player (Gosling) and coach (Morse), trying to organize an independent six-man football team in rural Montana. Both player and coach are flawed figures seemingly searching for a form of acceptance in each other; Gosling in the wanting of a father figure and Morse in wanting to be a type of father figure. The movie has graphic images and language the best I remember, and doesn’t spend much time on football using the sport as a catalyst to move the plot. However, there are some football scenes and six-man football related dialog throughout. The movie can be purchased easily (and cheaply) at many places online.

The trailer is available to be viewed on YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo0FMvCnAO8

Granger’s note: The Smiths were actually born in the UK, so that may explain some. They both went to graduate school at The University of Texas before moving to Montana. I was not a fan of this movie much either, although it premiered at The Sundance Film Festival in 2002 to much acclaim.

“The Seventh Man” – released Jan. 2003
Full-length documentary by Back 40 Entertainment, directed by H. Charles Riedl, produced by Timothy Sweeten and narrated by Val Kilmer. Subject of the film is the Panther Creek football teams of 1999 and 2000. Val Kilmer lends his voice to this documentary which begins with a brief history of the game and quickly dives into the Panther Creek football program under head coach Mitch Lee. There is a lot of game footage and interviews with players, coaches, school officials, family members and fans. The film even comments on the controversial ending to the 2000 state game between Panther Creek and Highland with an attempt to end the controversy. A very enjoyable film! This one is very hard to come across as it’s been out of print for years now.

Granger’s notes – Tim Sweeten lived in Mullin for years and we talked quite often during their glory days. A few years after that his kids were cast in Everybody Loves Raymond and he left for the West Coast. Six-man football was his passion project and that’s how this got made. I very much loved Val Kilmer’s voice in this. I have a copy but cannot find a trailer online.

“Six-Man, Texas” – released 2008
A critically acclaimed full-length documentary written and directed by Alan Barber. This documentary looked a few six-man football teams and towns in and around the 1999-2002 timeframe with a large portion of time focused around the 2000 Aquilla Cougars football team and season. Barber spends some time talking about the history of the game and follows the shrinking rural town narrative where six-man football is a necessity because the towns are shrinking, to which Barber uses Three Way in Maple, TX as an example. While I don’t necessarily subscribe to the shrinking town narrative, this film is great and worth watching…if you can find it! This film has never been released other than its showings at several film festivals in 2008, the reason is due to disputes with one band that was used in the films sound track which arose years after filming. The trailer can be seen on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Kfh1chKrM

(Trivia: Granger is featured in this film and as a result has a film credit to his name on imdb.com)

Granger’s notes: As everyone involved will attest, this took a while. Alan was a first-time filmmaker but very passionate about what he wanted. He and the entire team put so much into this. I think it is great, but I am biased.

“6” - 2009
Originally filmed as a full-length documentary for NFL films, this never aired and was cut down to a short film documentary by director Jeff Bednarz. Film focuses on a handful of 6-man football teams (Strawn, Follett, Rule, Calvert are shown more than others…I believe Guthrie as well maybe) in Texas during the 2008 season with a bigger focus on Follett and Strawn who played in the D1 state game. It includes interviews with players, coaches and community members who talk about what the game means to them and what it’s like growing up in rural towns. I remember viewing a long version of this film back around 2010, but have since obtained a shorter version. If memory serves me correctly this feature was never aired due to some issue with a licensing agreement with one of the big athletic goods companies. I believe if you can contact the director he will send you a copy of the short version…but don’t quote me on that.
The trailers can be seen on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OteOvhsrCo and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSEra5wbdjk

“Six-Man American Football” feature by Trans World Sports – released around 2009-10
Trans World Sports is a sports-related television program produced by IMG Media in London, England. With a running time of almost 12 minutes, this feature looks at Richland Springs, its town, school and football program. The piece begins by talking about the small rural town and to an extent touches on the shrinking town narrative, but not with negative connotations, like other programs. It goes over the basic rules and differences between 11-man football and interviews players, coaches, school employees and town residents and features game footage from the 2008 game vs Gordon. The English accent by the narrator makes this one fun to watch.

It is available on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXdfSBbNwwc).

“Destined for Greatness: 6-man Football History in the Making” - 2016
Produced by J. Matt Wallace, created by J. Matt Wallace and Barry Fikes and is a TexasBigStar and Mustang International production. This is a documentary series published in 10 parts on YouTube that followed the Richland Springs football team throughout the 2016 season. Each episode runs between 10-18 minutes long and gives us an inside look at the Richland Springs program and community with the 2016 football season as a backdrop, as it recaps the Coyotes season as they progress week-to-week on the road to their 8th state title. This series features Richland Springs alum and super fan Barry Fikes (aka Goob) as its narrator and features interviews with players and coaches and contains a good amount of game footage. Start with episode one here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weOC0o7O62k

“6-Man” – ESPN feature documentary 2017
Award winning producer Scott Harves follows division 2 schools during the 2016 season. There is focus on Harrold, Mount Calm, Calvert, Balmorhea and Richland Springs.

Stay tuned for Sunday’s premiere.
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Jones26 » Fri Aug 04, 2017 7:59 pm

Great stuff! I also remember that there was a quick segment on TV before the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving in 1988 (or so?). If I remember right, Jayton was covered with interviews of townspeople, etc.

Great job Leman
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby granger » Fri Aug 04, 2017 8:13 pm

Jones26 wrote:Great stuff! I also remember that there was a quick segment on TV before the Cowboys game on Thanksgiving in 1988 (or so?). If I remember right, Jayton was covered with interviews of townspeople, etc.

Great job Leman


That's exactly why we picked this format. There are things we left out and love the comments and input and links, if people have them...
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby BuffaloCountry » Fri Aug 04, 2017 9:49 pm

https://www.google.com/amp/abcnews.go.c ... 3D12236176

Here's a link from ABC back on Nov. 25, 2010 when they sent a crew down to Petersburg to do a story on sixman football. I remember they stayed the whole week doing interviews around town and at the high school and even got some game footage when Petersburg hosted Meadow for homecoming I believe. They aired the segment nationwide on ABC's Nightline.
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Leman Saunders » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:21 pm

I missed one somehow:

ESPN News Story on Gordon vs Revere, CO – 1994
ESPN ran a short news item about the Gordon vs Revere, CO football game which took place mid-season in 1994 at Gordon. It was a much hyped game as I believe Revere, CO was one of the top six-man teams in the country and Gordon beat them 18-0. The newscast was about 5 minutes long and featured game highlights and interviews with fans from both Gordon and Revere as well as interviews with Tommy Wells, who help organize the event, and Granger Huntress. I believe other film crews were there as well. This game started a trend of Gordon playing out of state teams, including a team from Bjorkdale, Saskatchewan Canada in 1996.
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby granger » Fri Aug 04, 2017 11:38 pm

added to the story with my notes...
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Sixman877 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:11 am

Does anyone know where I could find the full six man Texas movie
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Leman Saunders » Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:45 am

Sixman877 - "Six-Man, Texas" you wont be able to find at all unless Alan Barber gave some copies to people involved with the film which Im not sure if he did. To my knowledge the only person who has a copy is Alan Barber.
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby topher80 » Sun Aug 06, 2017 1:16 pm

Thank you for posting this Leman!! Hopefully someone will post the ESPN video to YouTube so people who don't have access to ESPN can watch it... lousy Canadian TV providers not allowing us Canucks to access ESPN and force us to watch the 99% ice hockey version called TSN. *sigh*
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby granger » Sun Aug 06, 2017 2:58 pm

I have a copy, Leman. Just need to find it
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Leman Saunders » Sun Aug 06, 2017 5:31 pm

You and Alan need to team up for a screening somewhere like Paint Rock
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Leman Saunders » Mon Aug 07, 2017 1:59 pm

"Texas Six" by Nicholas Strini - 2013-14
A short film documentary focusing on Valley and Crowell in the 2013 semi-finals and then Crowell in the State Game at AT&T Stadium. Interviews with players and towns people and features locker room footage and game footage. This is only about seven minutes long but packs a lot of info about the game and what it is like to play six-man. The Crowell people talking about how they made the move to six-man is the best part in my mind...there are some 11-man school administrators that need to watch this short film!
https://victoryjournal.com/stories/texas-six/
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Re: Exposure: Texas Six-Man Football in the National Spotlig

Postby Leman Saunders » Mon Aug 07, 2017 5:16 pm

I spoke with the production company today that made "6" back in 2008-09. There was about a 2 minute cut that played on the NFL Network and the full length film (about 40-50mins long) was screened at South by Southwest film festival and was shopped around and no one bought the rights to it so thus the full length one never aired. They are trying to locate a copy of the full length cut and see what the story is with the 21min cut that people do have. Schools they shot film at I was told were: Follett, Calvert, Strawn, Rule, Gordon, Aquilla, Zephyr of which the film only used a portion of the footage they shot
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