High school football practice will never be the same.
Or will it?
No one is sure what kind of impact the University Interscholastic League’s new limited contact rule will have on high school football, but some of the Golden Circle area coaches believe the rule just goes hand-in-hand with the way football practices are already being conducted.
The UIL voted Tuesday to approve the new rule, which limits contact in pads to 90-minutes per week during the regular season, and the rule is expected to be approved by the state education commissioner before the start of preseason practice in August.
The rule doesn’t apply to spring practice or summer preseason practice. The idea is to prevent injuries by limiting game-speed tackling and blocking to the ground.
“I think most of the coaches are already doing it,’’ new Corsicana coach Steve Hoffman said. “We don’t have 90-minute per week contact now.’’
The UIL’s Medical Advisory Committee unanimously recommended the 90-minute per week full-contact, game-speed practices in April to help prevent injuries, especially concussions, which are a growing concern at every level of football from high school to the NFL.
Drills such as the “Bull in the Ring,’’ and the “Oklahoma Drill,’’ would be eliminated from practice under the new rule.
That’s not news to Mildred’s program.
“We did away with those drills years ago,’’ Mildred football coach Billy Dan Chambliess said. “We lost two of our best players during the Oklahoma Drill (a 3-on-3 tackling drill) over two years. We lost Corbin Russell five years ago and lost Bo Jenkins the next year. We don’t do those drills any more.’’
Chambliess said it’s common sense to control the level of tackling.
“If they can’t tackle when they get to the varsity level there’s not much hope for them,’’ he said. “Most of the schools are probably doing it already. Obviously, you don’t want anyone to get injured. We’ve adapted to the changes. If you don’t get your kids to Friday night you don’t have much of a chance.’’
Chambliess said Mildred’s tackling drills won’t have to change under the new rule.
“In our tackling drills you just square up,’’ he said. “We’re not tackling to the ground.’’
The Wortham kids know better than to tackle to the ground in practice.
“I get on to them if they tackle to the ground,’’ Wortham coach Shane Doege said. “That’s one of my mantras in practice. I want you to control him. We want you to get low and run through him and control him and don’t tackle him to the ground.’’
Doege said the new rule might have an effect on the bigger schools that have more kids, but the smaller schools can ill afford injuries and coaches know it.
“We’re on the softer side of the hitting drills,’’ he said. “We don’t have any major, big-time impact drills. That’s for Friday nights. I don’t think the new rule will affect us, especially with our style of ball we play. We don’t have the old school running back and linebacker tackling.’’
Doege likes to spread the field and throw the ball.
“We want to get our guys in less volatile situations where they can get some space,’’ he said.
The new rule would be in place for the upcoming season, but Kerens coach Russell Anderson said it wouldn’t cause any ripples in practice because coaches have already adjusted to the idea of less contract.
“Coaches have monitored the amount of contact they have in practice. We’ve monitored our practices pretty much in line with that already,’’ Anderson said of the new rule. “You will see the bigger schools have more contact and you will find the smaller schools have less contact in practice.’’
Anderson said all of his tackling drills are designed to protect the kids against injury.
“We do our tackling drills in hulls, a confined area where the contact isn’t as violent. We very seldom do any drills where they go to the ground.’’
High school football practice will never be the same.
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