Rules Changes Minimize Health Risks
August 3, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
A pair of football rules changes taking effect this season build on continuing work to minimize health risks in all interscholastic sports as 2017-18 fall practices begin next week for member schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association.
Practice in football must begin on Aug. 7 for all schools wishing to begin regular-season games the weekend of Aug. 24-26. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, over a period of 16 calendar days before the first kickoff.
Practice sessions for all other sports begin Wednesday (Aug. 9). 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 Aug. 16. 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, soccer, swimming & diving, and volleyball is Aug. 18.
This fall, two football game dates again precede Labor Day, and a number of MHSAA schools will play their first varsity games on Thursday, Aug. 24. In Week 1, 141 varsity games will be played on Thursday, 153 contests will be played on Friday, and 16 games will be played on Saturday. In the second week, four games will be played Wednesday, 238 games will take place Thursday, 64 will be played Friday, and five contests are Saturday.
A change to the allowable level of contact on a blindside block in football is one of the latest rules changes aimed at increasing player safety. A blindside block involves contact by a blocker against an opponent who, because of physical positioning and focus of concentration (for example, while following a ball carrier on a kickoff return), is vulnerable to injury by a block coming from outside his field of vision. Blindside blocks now must be initiated with open hands only; blindside contact that is forceful and initiated with other parts of the body outside of the free blocking zone will be penalized as excessive and unnecessary.
In addition to redefining the blindside block, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) sought to also minimize risk by eliminating the pop-up kick – that is, any free kick during which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, causing it to bounce only once and into the air similar to the flight of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Kicks off a tee that bounce multiple times and then pop into the air remain allowed.
A few other notable rules changes in football will be apparent this fall:
• A defensive player will be called for encroachment for striking the offensive snapper’s hand or arm, or the ball, prior to the snapper releasing the ball to begin a play.
• Non-contact face guarding is no longer considered pass interference.
• A team accepting a penalty during the final two minutes of either half now will have the option of re-starting the clock at the snap of the ball rather than the referee’s ready-for-play signal.
While most fall sports face at least minor rules changes this season, a few more of the most noticeable adjustments will come in boys soccer and girls swimming & diving.
• In boys soccer, overtime periods and shootouts during the regular season have been eliminated. Leagues and conferences are allowed an overtime option for their end-of-season bracketed tournaments, but overtime in those cases must not exceed two 10-minute periods plus a shootout. Multi-team regular-season tournaments also may receive waivers to employ a shootout if it is used to determine the winner of a game.
• Also in soccer, kickoffs may now travel in any direction from the center of the field. Previously, kickoffs at the high school level were required to move forward down the field of play.
• In girls swimming & diving, a diver will need only four regular-season wins (instead of the previous five) to qualify for the Regional Diving Qualification Meet. A diver also may qualify if she places ahead of all divers from opposing schools in varsity competition in at least four meets, even if she does not finish ahead of her teammates.
• Also in swimming & diving, to promote safer take-offs during relays, the second, third and fourth swimmers must have at least one foot in contact with the starting platform in front of the starting block wedge during take-off. Those second, third and fourths swimmers may not take off with both feet on top of the starting block wedge.
The 2017 fall campaign culminates with postseason tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals the week of Sept. 25 and wraps up with the 11-Player Football Playoff Finals on Nov. 24 and 25. Here is a complete list of fall tournament dates:
U.P. Finals – Oct. 21
L.P. Regionals – Oct. 27 or 28
L.P. Finals – Nov. 4
Selection Sunday – Oct. 22
Pre-Districts – Oct. 27 or Oct. 28
District Finals – Nov. 3 or 4
Regional Finals – Nov. 10 or 11
Semifinals – Nov. 18
Finals – Nov. 24-25
Selection Sunday – Oct. 22
Regional Semifinals – Oct. 27 or Oct. 28
Regional Finals – Nov. 3 or 4
Semifinals – Nov. 11
Finals – Nov. 17
L.P. Girls Golf
Regionals – Oct. 11 or 12 or 13 or 14
Finals – Oct. 20-21
Boys L.P. Districts – Oct. 16-21
Boys L.P. Regionals – Oct. 24-28
Boys L.P. Semifinals – Nov. 1
Boys L.P. Finals – Nov. 4
L.P. Girls Swimming & Diving
Diving Regionals – Nov. 9
Swimming/Diving Finals – Nov. 17-18
U.P. Girls Finals – Sept. 27-30
L.P. Boys Regionals – Oct. 12 or 13 or 14
L.P. Finals – Oct. 20-21
Districts – Oct. 30-Nov. 4
Regionals – Nov. 7 & 9
Quarterfinals – Nov. 14
Semifinals – Nov. 16-17
Finals – Nov. 18
MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 27, 2023
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.
The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.
Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.
“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”
Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.
All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.
MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.
“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”
The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.
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 1.3 million spectators each year.