Cole explains decision for 8-man football in Tyrrell County

Published 10:22 am Tuesday, May 19, 2020

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By Mike Cole

Athletic Director Tyrrell County Schools

The decision to play 8-man football at Columbia Middle and High Schools came from the Board of Education, Superintendent and Principals. Coach Steve Ralph is totally on board too.

The number of guys coming out each of the last 2 years has gone down tremendously! Our last football game, last year, we dressed 14 guys, and 1 of them got hurt. We had 13 guys to finish out that game.

The guys that played last year showed more heart and determination, and I could not be prouder of the young men!

The guys’ safety is always our main concern regardless what they are doing. There was a sign-up sheet passed around to gauge the guys’ interest for the 2020 School year. After receiving the results back I knew we couldn’t sustain safety and good competition with the low numbers.

I approached Mr. Ziegler then Mr. Holley. After our discussion, I was given the green light to pursue 8-man football.

This is an attempt to keep the football lights on in Columbia for football season and giving the guys some way to play football, if possible.

First step was contacting our State Super, Mrs. Tucker, and she went to the State Board. giving us permission. Then I had to go to our Conference. Last 2 years there have been only us and Bear Grass that played football. Other schools in our conference and nationwide have experienced numbers decline for football participation.

After talking to our conference, Mattamuskeet has joined us in playing 8-man football. We have 10 games with 2 extra scrimmages on the schedule. We will be playing Mattamuskeet, Bear Grass. Lawrence, Pungo, to name a few.

The travel will be cut down, and we should be competitive in every game. It is still football, just 3 less guys. The field is the same except it is 15 yards narrower.


What we expect to see is higher scoring games with big plays. I cannot remember 8-man football being played here in Columbia, so this is very exciting! I am super excited to see our Wildcats play this fall, as long as we are allowed by State with the virus implication.

Please stay tuned as we will continue to let our community and county know when we start so our Wildcats can get the support our county and town will give them!

On another note, I was placed into the intern Athletic Director position last Thanksgiving. The person in the position had to take a leave of absence for family matters. I had been under her for about 2 years, learning and doing some assignments. When she came back after the first of the year the Board of Education decided to leave me in the position for the reminder of the school year.

It’s a total honor to be able to have a small part in trying to make our student athletes’ time here at Columbia High School as memorable as possible.