Maryville resident Roger Nichols is looking for a few former football players who aren't quite ready to hang up their helmets and shoulder pads.
Nichols, who has spent years knocking around the sport as a fan and coach, wants to pick up a whistle and walk onto the gridiron again as skipper of the Nodaway County Bulls, a proposed eight-man semi-pro team that would be part of the Central Plains Football League.
Actually the word "semi-pro," while official, is a little misleading.
Nobody is going to get paid for this, least of all Nichols, who said he is putting together a team "for the love of the game." Any players who suit up, he said, will have to share that same passion.
Formed in 2006, the CPFL plays March through early July, counting playoffs, and has been able to field ten or 12 teams during each year of its existence.
Some of the current teams include the Kansas City Bulldogs, the Platte County Buccaneers, the Southwest Voodoo (Springfield) and the Topeka Thunder.
Played on a field that's 50 yards long and 28 yards wide, eight-man football showcases the same kind of rapid-fire offensive strategies as the arena game, except that it's played outside.
Most of the rules will be familiar to anyone who's watched 8-man high school football, but there are a few differences. For example, receivers only have to have one foot in bounds for a completion.
On offense, two men can be in motion prior to the snap, but defensive players can only blitz from one spot along the line. No punting is allowed, so teams are going for a first down on every play of every possession.
With the rules tilted in favor of big gains and lots of passing, it's not unusual for some teams to score 50 or 60 points a game.
Nichols has been working with Maryville Parks and Recreation in order to line up access to the football field at Donaldson Westside Park for five home games this spring. The proposed squad would play ten regular season games each season.
He said players must be at least 18 years old, and that most people who compete at this level are former high school and college athletes with the exception of the occasional ex-pro.
Players who think they might like a shot at playing for the Bulldogs should plan on attending a sign-up session from 2-6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, at Autumn House, 110 South Vine St. in Maryville.
Nichols said he is hoping to put together a squad of at least 30 or 35 players over the winter. Football at this level he said, constitutes a "second chance" for athletes who just aren't ready to unlace their spikes for the last time.
Besides, after running the now-defunct Nodaway County (Skidmore) Lightning during the team's only season back in 2000, and helping lead the Missouri Minutemen in Kansas City and the St. Joseph Explorers, the former certified nursing assistant, now retired on disability, still has the bug himself.
Page 2 of 2 - "Sometimes you just have to create something to make it work," Nichols said. "I'd like to coach for two or three seasons and then let somebody else take it."