In late April, KSHSAA passed a proposal that will allow football teams to participate in preseason jamborees in the fall. 

This means that instead of intra-squad scrimmages — like the Parsons Vikings’ Blue and Gold game — teams can host or travel to another school and compete in a scrimmage against each other.

Schools will be allowed to have one jamboree date with no fewer than three schools and no more than four KSHSAA-member schools. Teams will be required to complete 10 days of practice before participating in a jamboree, with each player requiring nine practices to be eligible to participate.

“It’s exciting news for us,” Labette County head coach Sean Price said. “It’ll replace our scrimmage, but I never knew how good of a look you got with that. We’ll be able to correct some of the mistakes right off the bat. That’s a huge deal, not to mention the spirit of competition. It’ll better prepare us for a Friday night.” 

Smaller schools in the area will see some of the biggest benefits to being able to schedule jamborees with other schools.

“It’s a good rule for schools that have low numbers,” St. Paul head coach Keith Wiatrak said, “that can’t have their own scrimmages. Last year, we had 14 kids out and a Friday night scrimmage. But we had to do it without a player on each side. It took away from the quality of the scrimmage.” 

Oswego, one of several 8-Man schools in the area, is in the process of formally scheduling a jamboree that will host St. Paul and Maranatha Academy.

“I’m excited for a chance to host it and have two quality teams coming to it,” Oswego head coach Matt Fowler said. “St. Paul has been one of the best teams in our area, if not the best 8-man team in the area honestly. Maranatha had a good squad last year, so it’ll be good to have them here.” 

Schools across the state raced to schedule jamborees when KSHSAA announced it had passed the resolution.

“As soon as it passed, I called (Wiatrak) within like 10 minutes,” Fowler said. “As soon as I called him, I had an email from the Maranatha coach that asked if anybody had a jamboree. It fell into place very quickly.” 

Parsons will travel to Fredonia along with Chanute for its jamboree this fall.

“I think it’s great because we get a chance to put pads on one week before the season counts and simulate game-like experiences so our kids can be more prepared,” Parsons head coach Kurt Friess said. “The question with the Blue-Gold game was how you set it up. We had six starters go both ways.” 

While coaches across the region are supportive of the opportunity to schedule jamborees, it comes at a cost to a slew of communities.

For example, Parsons’ Blue and Gold Scrimmage has historically coincided with the Moonlight Madness festivities hosted in downtown Parsons. Fans would go to Marvel Park and take in the scrimmage before patronizing businesses at night. Now Vikings fans wanting an early look at their football team will have to travel to Fredonia.

“That’s the first thing we talked about,” Friess said. “We’ll open up the season at home in Week 1. So the community will get an opportunity early to see our kids. But we had to make a decision. Everybody else in the state is participating in these jamborees. If they’re going to offer that opportunity, we’ve got to give our kids the best chance to be successful.” 

Labette County, which has traditionally held a Red and Gold Scrimmage, will host a jamboree this fall with Iola and Columbus.

“None of us play each other and we’re not in the same league,” Price said. “We really wanted to see something different.” 

Oswego and St. Paul have a tentative agreement to flip-flop host sites every year. 

“The agreement between myself and Coach Fowler is that we get to host,” Wiatrak said. “But part of it relies on schedule. We won’t see each other down the road on our schedule.” 

The jamborees will allow teams to run 36 offensive plays and won’t feature any timed quarters. 

“I like the fact that you get 36 plays versus just one timed quarter or something like that,” Wiatrak said. “We each get our 36 plays. I’ll script 24 plays for my varsity no matter the down or situation, then I’ll script 12 for my backups.” 

Fowler said the jamboree concept will benefit both the varsity and JV levels going forward.

“It’ll benefit the younger kids more because you can use your JV kids against kids more their level, rather than going against starters. And they’ll feel the support of that varsity crowd and will welcome them to football well.” 

Price added that KSHSAA’s willingness to pass the resolution was a step in the right direction.

“With the state going forward with something we haven’t done, it’s sometimes hard to get the bureaucratic stuff going,” Price said. “Every other state does it, and we were the only ones it seemed like. KSHSAA saw that and let us do it this year.” 

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