Budget Sports Report
There will be some changes seen in the game of football across Ohio when it comes to the high school level this fall. New kicking rules have been put into place in a move to help eliminate opportunities for serious injury.
The first high official high school football practice was held on Monday, July 30. Last year, there were nearly 43,000 high school football players in Ohio, making it the most participated-in sport in the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s list of 26. Other fall sports like golf, tennis, soccer, field hockey and cross country were allowed to start practicing today, August 1.
In terms of rules, one concerning equipment for football players that was set out on a test in Ohio last season has been adopted by the United States in general. It calls for a player with any kind of equipment issue which can range from a helmet coming off to a show being untied, to leave the field for at least one play, until the equipment issue has been resolved.
A larger rule is one that pertains to kickoffs. They were banned at the junior high level several years ago. Now, kickoffs are no longer permitted as part of a freshman game. At the junior varsity level, they can be done, as long as both head coaches agree.
“Player safety on kickoffs is something being discussed at all levels of football – professional, college, high school and younger,” said Beau Rugg, OHSAA Director of Sports Management and Officiating and the OHSAA’s football administrator. “And at the sub-varsity levels, there isn’t much time spent working on kickoffs, so this will help.”
For games without kickoffs, the ball will be spotted at the 35-yard line to start halves and after scores. The ball will be spotted at the 50-yard line after a safety.
Another rule change that impacts kicks is an added enforcement spot for penalties by the kicking team. For example, on a kickoff that goes out of bounds, the ball can be spotted five yards from where it went out of bounds. Also, a penalty on the kicking team during a punt can be enforced from the end of the play.
Another safety feature for players is the five-day acclimation procedure. During practices within the acclimatization period, players may wear helmets only on the first two days.
On days three and four, helmets and shoulder pads are allowed. From day five onward, full pads are allowed. Prior to the sixth day of practice, no full contact is permitted.
During the first five days of practice, athletes may engage in conditioning, speed, strength and agility drills and may use “dummies” for drills and walk-throughs. All athletes joining the team for the first time at any point during the season must participate in a five-day acclimatization period prior to any contact drills.
Coaches must ensure that there is adequate recovery time between practice sessions. This year, there are two dates, Sunday, August 5 and Sunday, August 12, that are mandatory days off.
After full contact is permitted, teams must also adhere to the OHSAA’s contact regulations. When more than one practice takes place in a day, full contact is permitted only during one of the practices. With the importance of recovery time to help minimize concussion risks, consideration should also be given to the timing of full contact during the next day (i.e. if full contact occurs during session 2 of two‐a‐days, there should not be full contact in session 1 of two‐a‐days the following day).
It should be noted that a student‐athlete is limited to 30 minutes of full contact in practice per day. They are also limited to 60 minutes of full contact in practice per week. The Concussion Summit Taskforce has advised Ohio that it needs to look at its rules concerning the amount of a time that a player is allowed to play — 50 quarters for the season for high school football or 32 for junior high athletes playing a full season.
The OHSAA reminds everyone that a pre-participation physical is a must. In addition, in order to be a coach in Ohio, all coaches, both paid and volunteer, must be certified by the Ohio Department of Education.
It should also be noted that the month of August is a no-contact period for coaches in the sports of basketball, softball, baseball, ice hockey and lacrosse
This story originally appeared in the August 1 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.