Many small teams in North Carolina played six- man football. There is a great Sports Illustrated article on Texas 6-man football, played even now. The rules are different (shorter field, 15 yards for a first down, have to lateral it once before, running it, etc.) but essentially it’s “hike it, and rednecks go long!”
Really, it was like a back yard game, but folks were serious. As Willie Nelson stated: “When Jesus said Love thy neighbor, there was no such thing as high school football.”
And they were playing with live bullets. At 5’3” 105 lbs, I was faced with tackling a junior on our team named Jimmy Freeman. Jimmy ran it at 6’1”, 175 lbs, and the only little guys, Aubrey Moody and I, tried to summon the courage to tackle him. My first realization was, hey – Jimmy ain’t Tuddy.
Only the toughest ventured out on the field. Frank Brown, the oldest of the Browns, was asked to help our coach. Frank said two remarkable things (1) we ain’t wearing those face masks, they’re for chicken shits, (2) if a man serves two years in the army and doesn’t spend six months in the brig, he ain’t much of a man.”
Two years later as a senior my right heel hit Charles Montjoy in the teeth in practice and we helped him pick up seven teeth from the field. I then begged for and received a single bar guard. Whew. Chicken shit or not, Frank.

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