6-Man Friday Night Lights

High school football can send a rush of nostalgia through people: memories of Friday night lights, warm letter-mans jackets and bursting school pride. Former players recall the rush felt hearing their names called in the starting lineup, the scent of sweat and grass transports them back in time.

Songs have even been written about the glory days of high school football, like Kenny Chesney’s “Boys of Fall” which can be found here.

While many fans are accustomed to seeing eleven men on each side of the line of scrimmage, some may be surprised to learn of a lesser-known version of the sport—where each school sends its six best players onto the field to execute its offense and defense.

That’s right. 6-man football.

You can find these unique games taking place at many small, rural Colorado schools on a Friday night, the whole town cheering along the sidelines. Because many small schools lack enough students to maintain an 11-man program, each fall teenage boys from across the state work hard to achieve a 6-man state championship for their team, school and community.

Bright Lights, No City–The Prairie Mustangs prepare to run their next play against the Otis Bulldogs on Friday, October 4 in New Raymer, CO.

The Game

“I love that it’s exciting and that things can change quickly,” said Justin Kerns, head coach of the 6-man program at Prairie High School in New Raymer, Colorado. “You can be up twenty points at the first quarter and at half be down twenty points.”

The scoring system and format of the game has a lot to do with this. 6-man football is played on an 80-yard field, all players are eligible receivers (far different from 11-man), field goals are worth four points rather than three, and extra-point kicks are worth two instead of one.

“In 6-man you have to pay attention to everyone on the field,” stated Prairie High School senior quarterback, Mitch Dollerschell. “Everybody just has more responsibility in 6-man. If one person misses a tackle, it’s going to be a touchdown.”

High scoring games is a main characteristic of 6-man football—with final scores reaching 50 or 60 points regularly. The running aspect of the game, with fewer men on the field, is largely responsible for high scoring.

“6-man football is more like football, basketball, and track put together. If you could get a really high-quality athlete who has the stamina to go both ways—offense and defense—you use them,”Kerns said. “There’s so much more open space on the field. One player can change the entire outcome of the game.”

Offenses normally contain a quarterback, center, left end, right end, halfback and a fullback, depending on its formation. Defenses use a nose guard, two defensive ends, middle linebacker and two defensive backs—with the option of playing a safety in place of one.

“A defensive end is like the Von Miller in 6-man football,” Dollerschell added, referring to the Denver Broncos outside linebacker and sacks leader.

Quarterback Can’t Rush— Mitch Dollerschell throws a pass downfield in a game against Fleming. A difficult rule of 6-man football Dollerschell deals with is that the quarterback cannot run the ball upfield. Photo courtesy of Roz Long.

Recruitment Disadvantages

“The thing that he doesn’t like about 6-man is that he wishes he would play 11-man so he would have a better opportunity for scholarship at a bigger college,” said Roz Long, whose son Andy is a sophomore on Prairie’s team.

While 6-man football presents a certain charm and special atmosphere, it does have some drawbacks—especially when it comes to the recruitment process. With 6-man having different rules and taking place in small, middle-of-nowhere towns, large D1 programs rarely send recruiters to look for talent. In fact, some may be shocked to learn 6-man football even exists.

“I don’t think colleges acknowledge 6 or 8-man football as being somewhere that they can locate players,” Kerns mentioned when discussing the recruitment process. “It’s hard to scout kids at really small schools. The big colleges I think completely disregard 6-man.”

Prairie’s head coach went on to explain that smaller DII schools are better recruitment prospects because of the exposure they have to 6-man programs. Prairie, along with other small teams, often attend summer football camps at schools like Chadron State College or Western Colorado University, where they can exhibit their skills and potential to coaches at the next level. It is here that coaches for these collegiate programs witness the big talent that can come from little places.

Savor the Moment–Each team anticipates the snap of the ball. Small schools like Prairie and Otis struggle to get much attention from large D1 collegiate programs. Photo courtesy of Roz Long.

Small Town Charm

Despite the obstacles that may come with trying to play at the next level, the athletes in many 6-man programs have an encouraging, very supportive community rooting them on. In Prairie’s case, members of the area ranging from 70-year-old farmers to a 2-month-old baby can be found watching from the sidelines. The entire community gathers at Roger Sorensen Field on Friday nights to show its pride and support for the young men representing its culture.

Community Effort—A Prairie fan watches intently from the sideline. Though there are bleachers, most spectators choose to stand near the field behind the team, closer to the action.

“The whole community comes to support their team,” Long explained, having served as one of the main photographers at Prairie’s sporting events for the past couple of years. “Everybody knows everybody and its neighbor helping neighbor. Small community is like a big family.”

The Prairie Mustangs are currently 4-2 on the season but plan to make a big statement in the latter half of the season. Their schedule and more statistics for the team can be found here. The players, coaches and fans all have high hopes for the season.

“We have the potential to be in the state championship game,” Dollerschell concluded.   


Faces of Fall in Laramie

Fall in Laramie is a very special time of the year. School is in full swing, the University of Wyoming athletics teams are taking off, and there are lots of fun events going on throughout town. For this photojournalism assignment, I aimed to capture all of this “fall time fun” in photos I took around the city!

Going for the Kill-Tara Traphagan swings over the outside block put up by UNLV as the rest of the Cowgirls anxiously await the rally. UW captured a thrilling victory on Thursday in Laramie, making a comeback to win 3-2.

I happen to be a huge volleyball fan and am excited that I go to a university with such a great team. I had planned on going to many games this fall anyways—so this was a perfect photo opportunity! At first, it felt weird walking into the game with a camera around my neck and I was a little timid to shoot pictures. This only made it harder to get photos. Once I started moving around to get shots it became easier…in fact, I started to feel kind of cool! This photo demonstrates the rule of thirds, with the focal point being in the upper third.

Thrill of the Kill–The Cowgirl volleyball team celebrates winning a point against UNLV on Thursday in the UniWyo. This was an important Mountain West Conference game and UW grabbed the victory.

This picture perfectly captures the atmosphere that took over the UniWyo on Thursday. It was “Gold Out” and the stands were packed with fans in their golden shirts and lots of energy. It was hard to remember to take pictures and not get too caught up in watching the game itself. I think I did a pretty good job though! This photo shows a unique viewpoint from above the court. The Cowgirl volleyball team would love to have as much support as possible this season. If you would like to cheer them on, you can find the schedule here.

Late Night, Study Might-Becca Demello, a UW student, works diligently on her homework in Coe Library on a Thursday night. Like many other students, Becca juggles both schoolwork and finding time to get something to eat.

Don’t worry, I didn’t spend the entire length of this assignment in the gym! I decided to take some pictures of something all UW students can relate to…studying. Love it or hate it, most students find themselves in the library at some point or another and that is how I stumbled upon this photo opportunity. I really felt uncomfortable asking someone if I could take pictures of them, but fortunately everyone I asked was very kind! In this photo the color red stands out as a creative device. I definitely related to the subject of this photo because, (heads up—helpful hint coming your way) food ALWAYS makes studying better!

Greece Comes to Laramie–A member of the Vlastos family sells olive oil from his family’s farm on the island of Crete. His family has been farming olives on the island since 1450 A.D.

One of my favorite things to do at the beginning of the school year is visit the farmer’s market in Laramie! My friends and I decided to go this past Friday afternoon and I took pictures the whole time. I enjoyed getting to meet some of the vendors and had some great conversations. They were very nice and willing to let me photograph them—which made my job easier! This photo also exhibits the rule of thirds. It was hard not to buy something at each stand!

A Walk Across the Sky–Katie Luukkonen walks her dog, Samuel, across the bridge near downtown on a crisp Friday afternoon. The bridge is one of the main attractions in Laramie.

I couldn’t complete this photojournalism essay without including some cute animals! I took this photo on the bridge over-reaching the train tracks that run near downtown. While it is a pretty view—I don’t always like heights. Yikes! That made getting the shot a little difficult, but this may be my favorite photo I took while adventuring through Laramie! I think this photograph really uses the creative device of depth…and I mean, look how ADORABLE this dog is!

I’ll be honest. At the beginning of this assignment…I was DREADING taking pictures of strangers. Despite being a very social and talkative person, I was worried people would think I was “weird” for walking around with a camera. However, I was surprised that I ended up enjoying being a photographer! I wish I would have had some better lighting for some of my photos but overall I was pleased with how my photos turned out. I actually think I am going to take more pictures throughout the semester…it’s fun trying to capture Laramie from a unique point of view!

A Picture’s Worth A Thousand…Plants?

This week, we decided to “branch” out of the classroom to explore the University of Wyoming Williams Conservatory, located near the southwest corner of campus. I had only seen the conservatory from the outside before, which I soon learned has been an incredible loss on my part. It took no longer than two seconds after stepping into the greenhouse to be struck by the beauty of MANY different plants thriving throughout the building. It really did feel as if there were thousands! I did my best to capture this beauty through the use of creative devices in the photos below!

“Light of the Rustic Lantern” — This tarnished metal lantern hangs delicately from the canopy of the Williams Conservatory. This greenhouse has many diverse plants and is open to the public year-round.

This photo is a wonderful example of pattern and symmetry. The focal point of the photo is obviously the lantern with its articulate cutouts drawing viewers’ attention to the unique sun-catching pattern. Though the background isn’t necessarily symmetrical, the lantern itself is portrayed symmetrically, with 1 ½ panels of the lantern portrayed on each side of the foremost divider. The photo also has subtle aspects of focus, being that the lantern is displayed clearly in the foreground. I only wish I was tall enough to capture the lantern from a perfectly level angle.

“Stone Stream”— Here is an up-close look at one of the waterfalls in the conservatory. The clear water gently clings to the face of the rock occupied by small green algae.

Texture is the dominant creative device in this photograph. The glistening water draws focus to what can only be imagined as a smooth, cool surface. The crevices provide some variance, making the final product aesthetically pleasing. Because this is a very close shot, once can also see the creative device of cropping being used. This is perhaps one of the best ways to display fine details of an image. I only wish I could have used a DSLR camera with better shutter speed to snap the water more clearly.

“Friday Flora” — The sun shines down upon the many colors of daisies located on the University of Wyoming campus one Friday morning. The UW campus is known for its beautiful botanical displays during the late summer and early fall months.

The dominating creative device in this photograph is the use of different colors among the flowers. There is only one subject in the photo—that being the flowers themselves—so the different colors are what draws the attention throughout the photo. There is also some degree of balance in this photo, simply because no one color overpowers the other. My only wish for this photo would be to have fewer shadows on the white daisies in the lower left corner.

“Into the Jungle” — The close-up view of this plant illustrates a feeling of journeying into the depths of its leaves, each of which is reaching out in its own unique direction.

Creating depth was the main goal and creative device for this photo. It draws attention by making the viewer feel as if there is more to find in the background of the image. Leading lines are an additional creative device seen here, for the veins of the leaves serve as lines drawing attention to the background. I am very happy with how this photo turned out!

“Amigo Among the Leaves” —This weathered statue is positioned near the door of the conservatory to greet those who come to enjoy the beauty of this unique space.

The ‘Rule of Thirds’ is the creative device applied most strongly in this photograph. This helps ensure that the focal point of this image is the smiling face of the old man. Texture is also an important concept used here, highlighting the rough, wrinkled exterior of this seemingly joyous figure. I was surprised to see the various subject matter available for me to photograph in the conservatory!

I had so much fun exploring the conservatory and realized after leaving that I was still constantly looking for good photo opportunities and having idea after idea for taking creative pictures the entire way home…which I did! The photos above were my absolute favorite though and I hope they represent my best efforts to use creative devices in my photography.

Let the Games Begin!

Fall is almost here! This means school is in full swing, I can watch football almost every day of the week, and the unavoidable reality that students’ motivation seems to drop right around the time the leaves do…or so I thought.

However, it looks like I may have one class this semester that I am genuinely excited to embark on and explore. I feel like this multimedia production class is going to teach me some awesome skills that will make me far more prepared in the area of communication!

Listen, I know the stereotype. I am a woman in her early twenties—considered a millennial by most—and I am supposedly expected to be tech savvy and fully efficient in all things “online.”

Guess what? I am not.

Sure, I have the basic utility package of social media: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and a Twitter account that I still don’t fully understand how to use. But that’s the thing. Up till this point, I have for the most part been a consumer of social media. I am excited that this class is going to teach me more about producing media.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am very excited to learn about video production, audio production, and further exploring photography—something I love. However, I am still nervous about figuring out how all the different software and apps work to create this content. I had a hard time just making sure I was building this blog and website right!

(Don’t worry, after much patience and stress eating an entire box of mac-and-cheese, I think I got it.)

Social media is the best way to reach a wide audience, to share my passions, and to advocate for a better tomorrow. This is where I really hope to hone my skills. You see, I hope to one day work in public relations for small to medium-sized agricultural companies. If you know me, you know that American agriculture is something I am so incredibly passionate about.

EVERYONE is connected to the agriculture industry in some way or another—I mean, you ate today didn’t you? Therefore, the need to educate and spark discussion nationwide is greater than ever.

I look up to individuals who have already begun to do this. Take the Peterson Farm Brothers for instance, three siblings from central Kansas who have used YouTube and song parody to teach those less-informed as to what farmers and ranchers do on a daily basis.

You can see this fun, creative way they spread their message by clicking this link.

Though I am not entirely sure what this semester’s class will bring, I do suspect to learn a lot. I’m excited to look back after it’s done and see (hopefully) how much I have grown in my production skills.

So happy fall y’all! Let the games—and learning—begin.