Catch These New Rules as Fall Kicks Off
August 7, 2014
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
The first practices of 2014-15 begin next week for approximately 110,000 student-athletes taking part in eight sports in which the Michigan High School Athletic Association sponsors postseason tournaments, with nearly 41,000 football players practicing under a new policy in that sport aimed at continuing to improve player safety.
The new practice policy was proposed by a Football Task Force made up of coaches, administrators and MHSAA staff which met during 2012 and 2013, and approved by the MHSAA’s Representative Council at its Winter Meeting on March 21.
The modifications are meant to promote heat acclimatization and limit helmet-to-helmet contact during practices. They include:
- During the first week of practice, only helmets are allowed the first two days, only shoulder pads may be added on the third and fourth days, and full pads may not be worn until the fifth day of team practice.
- Before the first regular-season game, schools may not schedule more than one “collision” practice in a day. A collision practice is defined as one in which there is live, game-speed, player-versus-player contact in pads involving any number of players.
- After the first regular-season game, teams may conduct no more than two collision practice days in any week, Monday through Sunday.
- No single football practice may exceed three hours, and the total practice time for days with multiple practice sessions may not exceed five hours. Neither strength/weight training activities nor video/classroom sessions are considered practice for the purposes of the three or five-hour limits.
Previously, schools were required to conduct at least three days of practice without pads before beginning contact. The change to four days for gradual addition of pads was added to assist athletes in acclimating to being physically active in hot weather. Guidelines reducing the amount of collision practice go hand in hand with rules changes that have been made to reduce helmet-to-helmet contact in game situations. The policies in detail can be found on the Football page of the MHSAA Website.
“We think these new policies, with respect to the number of collision practices there can be before the first game, and after the first game, really are where 85 to 90 percent of our coaches already were,” said John E. “Jack” Roberts, executive director of the MHSAA. “This new policy sends a signal to that 10 to 15 percent to get on board with the rest of us to make football just as safe as it can possibly be.”
Practice in football must begin on August 11 for all schools wishing to begin regular-season games the weekend of August 28-30. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, and those 12 days of practice may not occur before 16 calendar days.
Practice sessions for all other sports begin on Wednesday (August 13). In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice, and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is August 20. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before nine calendar days. The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball is August 22.
Only one football date precedes Labor Day, and most varsity games will take place on Thursday, August 28, that week. Subvarsity competition may begin on Wednesday, August 27. In Week 1, 255 games will be played on Thursday, 53 contests will be played on Friday, and five games will be played on Saturday.
Continuing the focus on player safety, a number of rules changes were made in football for 2014:
- Rules were added restricting targeting of opponent and illegal helmet contact with defenseless players, with both resulting in 15-yard penalties. Targeting is defined as taking aim at an opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder to initiate contact above the shoulders and with an intent beyond making a legal tackle or block, or playing the ball. A defenseless player can be considered one no longer involved in a play, a runner whose progress has been stopped, a player focused on receiving a kick or a receiver who has given up on an errant pass, or a player already on the ground.
- Illegal contact to a quarterback now will be considered roughing the passer, and the offense will receive an automatic first down in addition to the previous 15 yards from the penalty.
- On kickoffs, the kicking team must have at least four players on either side of the kicker, and no kicking team players except for the kicker may line up more than five yards behind the free-kick line. These changes were made to improve safety by balancing the kicking formation and shortening the potential run-up by kicking team players heading down the field to tackle the ball carrier.
A number of significant rules changes will go into effect for other fall sports:
- In cross country, the ban on wearing jewelry has been lifted (and also for track and field in the spring). The National Federation of State High School Associations deemed the ban unnecessary in these two sports because there is little risk of injury with minimal contact between competitors. Elimination of the rule will allow officials to further focus on the competition.
- In soccer, Michigan has adopted the National Federation rule stating home teams must wear solid white jerseys and socks, with visiting teams in dark jerseys and socks (dark defined as any color contrasting white). Also, officials may now wear green and blue shirts in addition to red and black as alternates to the primary yellow shirt with black pinstripes.
- Also for soccer, both field players and goalkeepers must now leave the field when injured and the referee has stopped the clock. Previously, an injured goalkeeper was not required to leave the game when the referee stopped the clock; going forward, the keeper must be replaced.
- In swimming and diving, one change affects the beginning of races and another impacts a specific event. The use of starter’s pistols is now prohibited; starters must use an alternative sounding device to start races. Additionally, in the backstroke, a swimmer may not submerge his or her entire body after the start except for during turns. The swimmer must remain on or above the water surface on the finish, eliminating the abuse of submerging well before touching the wall. This change also applies to the finish of the backstroke leg of the individual medley.
The 2014 Fall campaign culminates with postseason tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals the week of Sept. 29, and wraps up with the 11-Player Football Playoff Finals on Nov. 28-29. Here is a complete list of fall tournament dates:
U.P. Finals – Oct. 18
L.P. Regionals – Oct. 24 or 25
L.P. Finals – Nov. 1
Selection Sunday – Oct. 26
Pre-Districts – Oct. 31 or Nov. 1
District Finals – Nov. 7 or 8
Regional Finals – Nov. 14 or 15
Semifinals – Nov. 22
Finals – Nov. 28-29
Selection Sunday – Oct. 26
Regional Semifinals – Oct. 31 or Nov. 1
Regional Finals – Nov. 7 or 8
Semifinals – Nov. 15
Finals – Nov. 21
L.P. Girls Golf:
Regionals – Oct. 8 or 9 or 10 or 11
Finals – Oct. 17-18
Boys L.P. Districts – Oct. 13-18
Boys L.P. Regionals – Oct. 21-25
Boys L.P. Semifinals – Oct. 29
Boys L.P. Finals – Nov. 1
L.P. Girls Swimming & Diving
Diving Regionals – Nov. 13
Swimming/Diving Finals – Nov. 21-22
U.P. Girls Finals – Oct. 1 or 2 or 3 or 4
L.P. Boys Regionals – Oct. 9 or 10 or 11
L.P. Finals – Oct. 17-18
Districts – Nov. 3-8
Regionals – Nov. 11 & 13
Quarterfinals – Nov. 18
Semifinals – Nov. 20-21
Finals – Nov. 22
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.4 million spectators each year.
For Their Teams, For Each Other, St. Mary Seniors Team Up 2 More Times
By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com
March 17, 2023
Shawn Bramer and Dylan Barnowski, as middle schoolers, attended the MHSAA Boys Basketball Finals every year.
Last year, they nearly played in the Division 3 title game – falling in a Semifinal but almost making a dream come true for the then-juniors and their Lake Leelanau St. Mary coach, Matt Barnowski, also Dylan’s father.
That dream began for some when the boys were coached by Matt as third graders, and they made serious strides last season. Before last winter, the last time the Eagles had won a Regional championship was 1950 – and no St. Mary boys basketball team had reached the Semifinals. Bramer and Dylan Barnowski – along with current seniors Jack Glynn, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar – had high hopes of making more history this winter.
The dream ended Wednesday night with a Regional Final loss to Frankfort, which St. Mary had defeated 54-41 during the regular season. This time, the Eagles were faced with a large number of K-12 students succumbing to illness – with all five of its starters at least somewhat sick – as nearly a third of the school’s tiny enrollment was out of school the day after the loss to the Panthers.
But you won’t hear any of the players or coaches making excuses. They give all the credit to Frankfort, and they’re ready to move on. And many in the LSM family know reaching the Regional Finals this season and Breslin Center in 2022 had absolutely no probability had Bramer and Barnowski not made an iron-clad agreement last summer.
The two friends vowed to help each other despite their personal, opposing challenges.
Barnowski and Bramer, through LSM’s cooperative agreement with Suttons Bay, went 3-for-3 playing in 8-Player Division 1 Football Finals during their first three years of high school. But through last summer Barnowski, who quarterbacked the Norseman, had no interest in football.
Bramer, meanwhile, had been nursing a quad tendon injury since his sophomore football season and battling two bad knees but was thinking he could suffer though football and sit out the basketball season to recover. The all-state running back experienced training difficulties and even had his strength training severely hampered.
Football was king for Bramer, and he also loved basketball too. Basketball is number one to Barnowski. The longtime friends decided cut a deal to help each other — and their teammates — out.
“I was kind of on the edge,” said Bramer, who plays with braces on both knees. “After talking to each other, we both ended up just playing.
“I really shouldn’t be playing sports, but I couldn’t miss out playing with my friends,” he continued. “We just figured it was our last season so we might as well just do it.”
Barnowski had been considering ending his football days immediately after the Norse fell short in their third-straight trip to the Finals, at Superior Dome in Marquette in Fall 2021. That loss was at the hands of Adrian Lenawee Christian 31-20.
The Norseman graduated most of their offensive and defense lines last spring and expected to be small in numbers. Until this fall, they had lost only one regular-season game on their way to three straight title game appearances. This year they finished 3-5.
The big linemen losses — Barnowski’s protection — was forcing him to weigh his injury risk against having a senior basketball season.
“We did it for each other,” Barnowski said. “I talked with Shawn, and we knew we had a big community behind us and it would be hard for them if we just quit.
“I knew we weren’t going to have the same powerhouse team we had,” he continued. “We weren’t very good this year, but we still had a blast.”
This week’s loss put an end to the possible Breslin championship finish, but it left the friends happy with the decision to play both sports. The Eagles finished 20-4.
Barnowski led St. Mary in scoring. He averaged better than 20 points a game with more than seven rebounds and five assists. Bramer averaged just under 15 points per game, and almost 10 rebounds.
The two big men each scored 11 in the season-ending loss. Thompson scored 14. This year’s senior-dominated team likely will be remembered for its basketball success for some time. Barnowski, Bramer and Glynn experienced only one loss in District play over their four seasons.
“It’s a really special groups of kids,” Coach Barnowski said. “These kids kind of transformed St. Mary’s basketball.
“They’ve really built the program,” he continued. “It’s been a roller coaster ride.”
Bramer and Dylan Barnowski also played baseball in the past for the Eagles, but that likely won’t happen this spring. Barnowski plans to golf, and Bramer expects to sit the spring season out and heal.
“We’ll never forget these last four years of varsity we played,” Barnowski said. “I‘ve decided to go a more relaxing route, and I’m going for some golf.”
With their Breslin dream over, the friends are ready to enjoy the St. Mary’s community support and move on. They’re bummed so many were sick in the end but won’t use it as an excuse.
“Hats off to Frankfort,” Barnowski said. “They did an incredible job of shutting us down.”
“They just played their game better than we did,” he said. “They took the lead at the end of the third quarter, and it was a battle from there.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS (Top) St. Mary’s seniors Dylan Barnowski, left, and Shawn Bramer hold up the team’s District championship trophy last week. (2) Eagles coach Matt Barnowski, center, and assistant Sander Scott coach up their team during last week’s Regional Semifinal win over Mesick. (3) Dylan Barnowski and Bramer also teamed up during successful football careers. (4) St. Mary’s seniors, from left: Shawn Bramer, Jack Glynn, Dylan Barnowski, Drew Thompson and Nick Linguar. (Sideline photo by Tom Spencer; player photos by Emmerson Lamb Photography.)