HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - There is one major rule change for high school football this season – though many coaches around the Pine Belt believe it will be minor.
The National Federation of State High School Associations has mandated that officials use a 40-second play clock as opposed to the 25-second play clock in years prior.
"Some people are saying it’s going to slow the pace of the game down but I’m going to be honest with you – you watch a high school football game and I’m going to say that 60 percent of the snaps the ball doesn’t get set in 15 seconds,” said Bay Springs head coach Dan Brady. “It takes it longer than that by the time [a ball is ]thrown in from the side, it’s thrown back and a new ball’s changed out.”
Much like in the NCAA and NFL, the new rule states that the play clock will be set to 40 and started immediately after a running play ends, a team gains a first down or after an incomplete pass. The ball is marked ready for play when it is placed and the referee has moved to his position.
A 25-second play clock will be used before a point-after-touchdown attempt, to start a quarter or overtime and after an inadvertent whistle or timeout.
Many coaches around Mississippi believe this rule change will affect strategy more so than pace of play.
"If anything it's going to help us be able to run it if we do get ahead,” said Columbia head coach Chip Bilderback. “I think what you’re going to see is gamesmanship with the coaches trying to figure out how to best use that. But it's a lot like the college game. I don’t see it affecting us as much as it might affect some spread teams. Might shorten their possessions if they’re trying to go hurry-up.”
"Defensively I think is where the challenges come in for the coaches,” said Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance. “Getting subs on and off the field ‘cause now teams are able to snap that ball as soon as its set. They don't have to wait for the official."
“I like the consistency aspect of it because now you know you got 2:20 left in the game, you know pretty much exactly how much time you can burn,” Brady said. “Personally myself, I’m looking forward to it. Now I may not be looking forward to it if I’m up on somebody and the clock gets me, but you know it is what it is."