FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – It’s a new season, a new program, and a new era of football for the Hoosier State as Blackhawk Christian is preparing to play the first season of 8-man football in Indiana.

The Braves are one of six teams in Indiana playing in the 8-man football pilot season that the Indiana Football Coaches Association helped organize.

Blackhawk will play eight games this season, starting with Saturday’s contest against the Tri-State Crusaders in Harlan. That game is set for 5 p.m. at the Christian Community Center in Harlan.

Head coach Brice Bennett of Blackhawk says only three of his 24 players have every played football before, but notes they have learned quickly. The biggest obstacle, he says, was finding equipment – specifically pads and helmets – as companies have been slow to fill orders due to supply chain issues.

IFCA Executive Committee member Kurt Tippmann, the head coach at Snider High School, has been integral in moving the game of 8-man football forward in Indiana. While they hoped to field 12-16 teams in this inaugural season, a number of teams had to delay the start of their program until next fall. Tippmann notes many surrounding states play 8-man football, with Michigan leading the way.