One by one, they begin gathering beneath the giant oak tree. Some are short and frail, while others are tall and robust. Most are clad in T-shirts and gym shorts. But two of them conspicuously sport street attire.

“Coach, all my practice stuff is in my mom’s car, but my dad dropped me off this morning, so…” says one of the boys.

The coach looks at the other. Body language suggests he seeks an explanation.

“Oh, uh, coach, my ankle, it hurts, think I rolled over on it yesterday.”

And before anything else can be said, a white Jeep pulls up. The quarterback and a couple of cronies pile out. As they race toward the field, the others, all 12 of them, file in behind. It’s practice time – gotta get ready for tomorrow’s big game.

At Dallas Academy, they play a different brand of football: six-man. Instead of 11 players lining-up against 11 players, six line-up against six.

The game is played on an 80-yard field, and everyone on the field is an eligible receiver. Games are fast-paced and often high-scoring affairs.

“It’s a speed game,” says Dallas Academy coach Phil Flatt. “Speed is more important than size.”

No football program existed at Dallas Academy until 1994. Flatt was brought in as an assistant coach from Duncanville Christway, one of the few area schools that fields a six-man team. After four weeks, Flatt was elevated to head coach.

The Golden Eagles went 3-7 that year but quickly earned a strong following.

“It has helped as far as school spirit,” Flatt says. “We’ve had good support from parents and our administrator.”

Last year was the Golden Eagles’ coming-out party, as they steamrolled to an 8-4 record that landed them in the state seminfinals.

“That was a big achievement,” says junior wide receiver-cornerback Adam Roof.

“We gave it our best, and it felt great.”

Flatt hopes last year’s team set a precedent for future success, but admits the team suffered a mild drop-off this year after graduating two of its stars.

“The challenge (for me) is teaching the game,” Flatt says. “With only two coaches, we don’t do as much as we’d like to.”

The enrollment cap for playing six-man football is 89, a number that Dallas Academy perennially straddles. If enrollment stays above that mark for two consecutive years, the school will be forced to abandon its program or play 11-man, an unpromising fate for a team that suits up an average of 15 players a season.

Flatt says that while 15 players represent a large six-man roster, it’s hardly adequate for an 11-man team.

“We would try to have a program, but we wouldn’t be as competitive.”

The players seem to love the six-man game. While some have played 11-man in the past, most have never played football at all and simply enjoy the opportunity to compete.

“Everybody gets playing time,” says senior tight end-defensive end Lee Coffee, a first-year player.

“You play on a smaller field, and there’s a lot more running.”

Dallas Academy plays its home games in Richardson at the RISD Greenville Avenue Stadium. For information, call the school at 214-324-1481.

NEWS & NOTES

Families’ Day Out At Old Fort Dallas: On Nov. 8, White Rock Montessori will host Frontier Fandango, an all-day event that will include music, food, games and crafts. Frontier Fandango will be held in the 19th-century town of Old Fort Dallas, 15 minutes south of Downtown. Proceeds go toward building a new school for White Rock Montessori. The event is scheduled from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Take I-45 south to exit 268. Tickets are $10 in advance and $13 at the gate. Advance tickets can be purchased from the Ticket Connection at 972-278-2782, or from White Rock Montessori parents. For information, call Barbara Norris at 824-7508.

Evans Named National Merit Semifinalist: Bryan Adams senior Jonathon Evans recently was named a National Merit Scholarship semifinalist. Evans is one of 17 Dallas Public Schools students and 15,000 students nationwide to receive the honor. More than 1.1 million students from 20,000 U.S. high schools entered the 1998 Merit program as juniors by taking the 1996 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test.

Eastfield Sponsors Seminar: The Eastfield College Continuing Education Department will host “Future Day – Business Seminar,” Nov. 12, at the school, 3737 Motley in Mesquite. The seminar lasts from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Campus Center, Room C135. Among the scheduled speakers are Lester Thurow, MIT economist and author of “The Future of Capitalism”; John Naisbitt, futurist and author of “Megatrends”; Don Tapiscott, technology expert and author of “The Digital Economy”; Faith Popcorn, trend watcher and author of “Clicking”; Don Peppers, co-author of “Enterprise One to One”; Marshall Loeb, event moderator and editor-at-large of Fortune magazine. Conference cost is $199. Seating is limited. Price includes lunch. To register, call 800-262-3795.

Miss Texas Visits JFK Learning Center: Miss Texas Reagan Hughes recently visited students at John F. Kennedy Learning Center. The visit was part of Wheels for Education, a program encouraging students to attend school.


WANT MORE?
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.