Aidan Clowry celebrates after catching a touchdown.
The decision to change Pawling High School’s football program from an 11-man to an 8-man format was met with skepticism when it was announced last year. A contingent of parents and alumni voiced concern about the new format deviating from the traditional football experience. However, players and coaches for the Tiger’s squad remained determined to prepare for a successful season, and those preparations paid off when Pawling recorded a dominant 55 – 0 win over Fallsburg in their season opener on September 7.
The change to the 8-man format has resulted in the elimination of two linemen and one backfield position on offense, with coaches having flexibility for defensive schemes. In addition, games will be played on a traditional field, 100 yards long, with the width being shortened to 40 yards. “The smaller field feels right for eight on eight,” says Head Coach Jason Kuhlmann. “The game hasn’t changed much.”
Practices began last month with players enduring two sessions each day to prepare for the upcoming season. Nearly 30 players came out for this year’s Tiger squad. The change to the 8-man format presented little challenge for Coach Kuhlmann, who is entering his sixth year with the program. “Everything is the same with our practice structure; I don’t coach any differently,” he says. “The schemes had to be adjusted, but if you ask the players I don’t think they noticed the difference between an eight-man and an eleven-man practice.”
The 8-man era of Pawling football began on Friday, September 7 when the team opened the season against the Fallsburg Comets. Pawling proved to have no issues adjusting to the new format, and won in impressive fashion by a score of 55-0. Alex Alcera ran for 161 yards, with four rushing touchdowns and an interception. Carmine Pedoto also added a rushing touchdown, averaging 14 yards per carry. Quinn Clowry and Patrick Irwin notched rushing touchdowns as well. Quinn Clowry also connected an 83-yard touchdown pass to Aidan Clowry. “The game was a lot of fun,” says Coach Kulhmann. “The format is fast and exciting, and still full of physical play. Brett Giannantonio and Zach Smith were standouts on offense and defense, as well. It was really a team effort, and every player contributed.”
The Tigers will have their home opener against Pine Plains on Saturday, September 15, starting at 1:30 p.m.