Canadians to host Americans in 14th Can-Am 6-A-Side Bowl on July 3 in football crazy Saskatchewan. American Head Coach Perry Allen and Coach Jason Boyda of Canada share their thoughts on the game and the week’s events.

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High school football is alive and strong. Over one million high schoolers participate in the sport according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

This number more than doubles the total for the next-highest played sport when the more than 26,000 players who play 6-, 8- and 9-man football are added to it.

A total of 203 high schools field 6-man teams in the United States. It is popular in states like Texas, Colorado, Montana and Nebraska where the openness and speed of the game creates a new kind of excitement for the fans much in the same way as arena football and rugby sevens do as different styles of a sport.

“It tends to be a high scoring game,” Idalia (Colo.) High School Head Coach Perry Allen said. “I think that’s what pulls people in just because basically on any given play a touchdown can be scored. That just makes it so exciting, and how quick the game can turnaround is pretty amazing.”

Allen has been the coach of Idalia’s 6-man team for two years. This summer he gets the chance to represent the United States by leading the American side in the 14th Can-Am 6-A-Side Bowl.

The Can-Am Bowl began in 1997 and features some of the best 6-man players from the United States and Canada each year. The Americans have won eight of the 13 previous matchups.

The Can-Am Bowl is played following Canadian 6-man rules. These include unlimited motion from all backs, three downs to gain 10 yards and a required three players on the offensive line of scrimmage with the center being ineligible.

The six players for each team still play on a 100-yard field with a 10-yard end zone, but it is only 40-yards wide. Six points are awarded for a touchdown, two for a kicked conversion, one for a run-in conversion, three for a field goal and one is awarded on a missed field goal and punts that aren’t returned from the end zone.

These differences account for the openness and high scoring Allen describes in the excitement of the 6-man style. The variations also create a need for all the players to be well-rounded athletes since they have multiple responsibilities and can’t simply specialize in one skill set like position players in 11- and 12-man football can. For example a lineman who blocks might have to move to fullback because of an injury, and then he must know how to run a route and catch a pass. On top of that, he might also be the team’s punter.

This year’s Bowl will be hosted by PreecevilleHigh School in Saskatchewan (the “little Texas” of Canada when it comes to football). The Canadian province is the home of 39 teams in 6-man football, and there is a strong following amongst the community in Preeceville that is looking forward to hosting the game.

“The whole community gets involved in it,” said Preeceville’s Head Coach Jason Boyda who will lead the Canadian team this July. “The best way I can describe it is comparing it to how a town in Texas shuts down for high school football on Friday nights. It’s kind of the same concept here where the whole town kind of shuts down for that couple days that events are going on for the Can-Am Bowl to support both the Canadians and Americans.

It’s just rural football support at the highest.”

The Can-Am Bowl is actually more than just a game. When the Americans travel across the border, they will be treated to a full range of events around the practices and game. There will be dinners, a softball game, golf tournament, awards banquet with a Ukrainian meal of pierogies, swimming and a social night and barbeque after the game. All of these events are planned with the intention of mixing the visiting Americans and Canadian together as much as possible.

As much as Allen wants to continue the winning tradition of the American side in the game, he is also looking forward to the camaraderie and fun of the whole week for both teams.

“Of course I’m a competitive guy like the next, and I would like to win,” Allen said. “But I think it will just be a fun time when we all get up there. That’s what I’m excited for the kids about. They’re going to mix them in. All those events will be really fun for the kids just to get to know each other.”

And Preeceville is looking forward to having the Americans come to town. In addition to the planned events, the school and community built a press box, redid their field, got a scoreboard and improved their goal posts over the years in hopes of winning the bid to host the Can-Am Bowl.

“It’s the topic of the town,” Boyda said. “We’re extremely excited and honored to host this game.”


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