The new season brings new rules for high school football, including the amount of contact players can have each week.
The Nebraska School Activities Association (NSAA) has released mandatory contact limitations for football players. The biggest change for some schools will be no more than two consecutive days of full contact, but Neligh-Oakdale coach Ron Beacom said he's not concerned about the changes.
"These rules aren't going to change how we prepare," Beacom said. "While they are mandatory now, they were recommended previously, and we followed most recommendations anyway. Even not having more than two consecutive days of full contact isn't that different if you understand what drills are allowed."
The NSAA has always had a "no-contact" rule for the first two days of practice,but there are now limitations for Day 3-5 and Day 6-14, as well as Day 15 through the remainder of season.
Day 3-5: Players can wear helmets and shoulder pads. Allowable contact includes unopposed drills without contact, drills against a bag or another soft-contact surface and drills where one player is designed to be the winner with contact above the waist and players stay on their feet. An example of the latter is a tackling drill where the runningback isn't going full speed and the defense is expected to tackle the runner, thus being the designated "winner."
Day 6-14: Players can wear full protective equipment. All contact from Day 3-5 is allowed. There are limits to full contact with no pre-determined winner drills and/or games. Those are allowed a maximum of 30 minutes per practice, no more than two consecutive days, only one practice (on a scheduled two-a-day) and two scheduled scrimmages not to exceed 90 minutes each.
Day 15-Rest of Season: Players can wear full protective equipment. All contact from Day 6-14 is allowed. Limits for full contact with no pre-determined winner drills and/or games of no more than four days per week (including games), no more than two consecutive days and a maximum of 30 minutes per practice.
Basically, as of the 15th day of practice, there cannot be more than two consecutive days of full contact scrimmaging/game and no more than 30 minutes of full contact per practice. A team could have a light practice with tackling and running drills on Monday, full-contact practices with scrimmaging Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by tackling and running drills on Thursday prior to the game on Friday, where they would be full contact.
There is also concern about smaller school not being able to play junior varsity games due to the restrictions, which could keep younger players from improving. Beacom said a full-contact game would limit contact in practice later, but that just means coaches have to use different drills the next day rather than scrimmage. He reiterated that players will still be able to play junior varsity games and improve throughout the season.
"Yes, these are new stipulations for high school football," Beacom said. "But these have been the recommendations for the sport for a while, so it doesn't change much for us. We just want to make sure parents understand what their children and can and can't do in practice. We're going to follow the rules."