What Bob Dylan sang about in the 60’s is happening to high school football in 2015. The GHSA has enacted several new rules when it comes to high school football practice. For instance, starting this fall, full contact practice will be limited to 45 minutes per day and 135 minutes per week. Also practices with full contact drills cannot take place over three consecutive days. The obvious hope is that these new rules, limiting hard hitting contact, will reduce injuries to the players.
Coach Shane Queen of North Cobb High School who coached his son Tyler (now a quarterback at Auburn University) has some concerns about the new rules. He worries that by reducing the time spent on full contact, it limits the amount of time to properly teach the fundamentals of how to make a proper tackle and keep players from getting injured by not using the correct technique.
"I treat every kid like he is my son Tyler. As coaches it is a lifelong learning process to keep these kids safe starting by making sure that every player is equipped properly, has yearlong training, and is taught and coached the correct way of playing the game," he said.
Over at Norcross High School, home of the 2012 and 2013 state 6A champs, Coach Keith Maloof says the new rules won’t affect the Blue Devils practices. “In our program safety comes first, and we have not been going full contact longer than the new allotted times anyway," he pointed out. "Our practices are limited to two hours, 20 minutes, so we are on and off the practice field a lot like the college teams do.”
Coach Maloof says he and his staff spend a lot of time on group work and special teams and that spending time in the off-season in the weight room and maintaining strong bodies is a key to limiting injuries once full practices begin.
The penalties for breaking these rules is severe. A first offense will be a fine ranging between $500 to $2,500 dollars. The second offense would immediately put the school on probation and would not be eligible for post-season play.
These high school football coaches are just now absorbing what this is going to mean to their spring and fall football practice schedules. They are also trying to make sure their players are prepared and ready to play when those Friday Night Lights turn on this fall.