"There always has to be a small dog."
Harvey Wellman, retired Six Man coach, Guthrie, Texas
Inspired by an experience from high school in the early 1960s, Six Man, Texas is Alan Barber's first feature. Filming began just before the 2000 high school football season and continued each season through 2002. Additional footage was shot in 2005 and 2006 after editor Mike Scannell joined the team. Completion is set for summer 2007.
Six Man, Texas is a story about the smallest Texas towns, whose schools are symbols of survival for many dwindling communities. The state of Six Man, Texas consists of more than 120 towns whose schools play the game of Six Man Football. With most of the towns north of I-10 and west of I-35, Six Man, Texas is mostly rural and agrarian. Many of the towns were founded in the early 20th century and are considerably past their peak. Downtown businesses no longer flourish. When a town has only 136 people, losing even one or two families can deal a lethal blow. But as long as the school is open, the tradition of Six Man Football lives on.
Every Friday night in the fall, every small community has a dream. A dream that maybe this year, there will be enough players with enough talent to take their tiny school to the playoffs. Or maybe, there will simply be enough players.
Although there are many similarities among the rural Texas communities whose public high schools play Six Man Football, the film highlights the story of two Three Way School in the far western region of the South Plains, and Aquilla School in Central Texas. Both are metaphors for the hopes of many Texas communities threatened by shrinking rural economies.
The film focuses on public schools because they are a vital part of rural culture. At one time, public schools were the backbone of the educational system; in Six Man towns, they still are. The vital connection between the school and the community unites everyone through common priorities, their school and a passionate commitment to their children. It is as if there exists a state within a state, the state of Six Man, Texas.