COLUMBUS – Several rules changes will go into effect and teams are reminded of preseason practice regulations as 718 schools across Ohio begin high school football practice on Monday, July 30. Last year, 42,878 high school student-athletes played football in Ohio, the most participants among the OHSAA’s 26 sanctioned sports.
The OHSAA’s fall sports of boys and girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country and girls field hockey all begin practice on Wednesday, August 1.
An experimental football equipment rule in Ohio last year has been adopted as a national rule this year, which calls for a player with any equipment issue – such as the helmet coming off – to leave the field for at least one play until the equipment issue has been resolved.
Also of note, kickoffs are no longer permitted in freshman games, and they are only permitted in junior varsity games if both head coaches mutually agree. Kickoffs are already not permitted in junior high games.
“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 Sport 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.”
In games with no 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 affects 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.
Preseason Practice Notes
Teams must follow the five-day acclimatization period. 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. Sundays, August 5 and 12, are mandatory days off.
After full contact is permitted, teams must also adhere to the OHSAA’s contact regulations.