All-State 8-man football game delivers outstanding action

Gilpin County’s first annual hosting of the game

By Gary King

For the first time Gilpin County High School, Black Hawk was the setting of the Elite All-State 8-man football game, a tradition going back over 50 years. Each elite athlete was a 2021 graduating High School senior chosen by vote of the coaches within his league. The State’s 6 Leagues are made up of 44 individual teams. The All-Star Game pits the Northern league’s teams against the Southern league’s teams. Team North’s 27 players were drawn from the Plains League, Northwest League which includes Gilpin County, and the Central League. Team South’s 22 players were selected from the Arkansas Valley League, Southern League, and the Mountain League.

Gilpin County High School’s Coach Craig Ball, the new Executive Director of the All-State 8-Man Football Game had the following comments: “Bringing Colorado’s 8-Man All-State Game to the mountains of Black Hawk was the right call. Gilpin County is the perfect spot to gather the 8-Man football community where we get to celebrate these outstanding young men that we are all so proud of. We got to watch the best of the best play under the lights one more time and in my opinion on the most beautiful football venue in the country. Football matters to small communities all over the state. Congratulations to our boys that played in this game and to the whole community for putting on a spectacular event. I can’t wait to do it again next year.”

Team North versus Team South

The game opened with Team South receiving Team North’s kickoff. South opened with a 17-yard return to their 20-yard line. South held the ball for 7 downs ending their possession with a turnover on downs at their own 49-yard line. North held the ball for the next 10 plays, including 8 rushing yards by Stephen King (2) of Gilpin, and moved the ball to South’s 2-yard line before turning the ball over on downs. On the first play following, South’s running back was tackled in the endzone for a safety making the score Team North 2 to Team South’s 0. After a 19-yard kickoff return to their own 37-yard line North completed a 49-yard touchdown pass on their 2nd play to make the score North 8 to the South’s 0. After a short pass for a 2-point conversion the North led 10-0. Following a 55-yard kickoff by Nolan Lindberg (8) of Gilpin, South controlled the ball for 10 plays ending with a turnover on downs on the last play of the quarter.

Team North opened the 2nd quarter with a 5-play possession ending with a 4th down turnover on the 50-yard line. South picked up with a 14-play, 50-yard drive for a touchdown but was stopped short for the conversion producing a score of North 10 to South 6. North began their possession with a 12-yard kickoff return to their own 30-yard line. North opened with a 6-yard run by Stephen King (2) but ended their 4-play drive by turning the ball over to South on the 36-yard line on a 4th down. South countered with 9 plays to move the ball to the North’s 6-yard line before turning the ball back over to the North on a 4th down. The North moved the ball back to their 36-yard line ending a 5-play drive with a pass interception by the South in the last seconds of the quarter. Team South took a knee to end the half with the score at 10 to 6 North.

The 2nd half opened with Team South’s kickoff which went out of bounds on Team North’s 35-yard line. North took 5 plays to reach the 50-yard line then ended their 6-play drive with a 4th down punt that was returned 1 yard by South to its own 24-yard line. A pass attempt on South’s 2nd play was intercepted by North for a 25-yard pick 6 touchdown followed by 2-point rushing conversion to deliver a score of North 18 to South 6. After an offsides penalty of 5 yards on the North kickoff took place from the 35-yard line and was returned 1 yard by the South to its own 18-yard line. South took 7 plays to turn the ball back over to North on punt that went out of bounds at the South 47-yard line. The North, in turn, took only 4 plays to turn the ball back on downs still on the South 47-yard line. Again, the South took only 4 plays to turn the ball back to the North on downs on the North’s 35-yard line. On the next play a North attempted pass was fumbled and picked up by the South for a 35-yard touchdown. After a failed conversion attempt the score was narrowed to 18-12 North. The South’s kickoff was received by Gilpin’s Stephen King (2) for a 32-yard return to North’s 37-yard line. During the next 4 plays, including 20-yard and 26-yard pass receptions by King (2), Team North advanced the ball to the South’s 2-yard line followed by a QB keeper for another North touchdown. With a successful 2-point conversion run up the middle, the score was set at 26-12 North. On the kickoff, Nolan Lindberg (8) of Gilpin completed a 56-yard kick that was received by the South on its 4-yard line returning the ball to the 29-yard line. The 3rd quarter finished with a turnover on downs and the North in possession on the South’s 35-yard line.

The 4th quarter opened with a Team North 8-play drive closing with a touchdown pass to the South’s end zone. After a 2-point rushing conversion the score stood at North 34 to the South’s 12. A long North kickoff was placed at the South 20-yard line. Team South formed an 80-yard touchdown drive in 6 plays followed by a successful 2-point conversion narrowing their deficit to 14 points on a score of 34-20 in favor of Team North. Four plays after the South kickoff the North was forced to punt on 4th down from their own 14-yard line. The punt was touched down by the North on its 46-yard line. Team South held the ball for 8 plays, advancing to the North’s 27-yard line before turning the ball over on a 4th down incomplete pass. Team North held the ball for the next 6 plays finally taking a knee to end the game on the South’s 25-yard line. The final score was tallied at Team North 34 to Team South’s 20.

Cheers to the Elite All-State Foundation

Many thanks to Coach Ball of the Elite All-State Foundation for his expertise and dedication in organizing this extremely successful event in our county. Donations to the Elite All-State Foundation are accepted through their website: and can be collected at the ticket booth on game day. You can learn more about their mission and vision for the event on the footer of all website pages.

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