In 2017, a total of 42,878 high school student-athletes played football in Ohio — the most participants among the OHSAA’s 26 sanctioned sports.
The OHSAA’s fall sports of boys and girls golf, girls tennis, girls volleyball, boys and girls soccer, boys and girls cross country and girls field hockey all begin practice on Aug. 1.
An experimental football equipment rule in Ohio last year has been adopted as a national rule this year. The rule calls for a player with any equipment issue — such as the helmet coming off — to leave the field for at least one play until the equipment issue has been resolved.
Also of note, kickoffs are no longer permitted in freshman games, and they are only permitted in junior varsity games if both head coaches mutually agree. Kickoffs are already not permitted in junior high games.
“Player safety on kickoffs is something being discussed at all levels of football — professional, college, high school and younger,” said Beau Rugg, the OHSAA director of sport management and officiating, and the OHSAA’s football administrator. “And at the sub-varsity levels, there isn’t much time spent working on kickoffs, so this will help.”
In games with no kickoffs, the ball will be spotted at the 35-yard line to start halves and after scores. The ball will be spotted at the 50-yard line after a safety.
Another rule change that affects kicks is an added enforcement spot for penalties by the kicking team. On a kickoff that goes out of bounds, the ball can be spotted five yards from where it went out of bounds. Also, a penalty on the kicking team during a punt can be enforced from the end of the play.
The high school football regular season will begin on Aug. 24, highlighted by Norwalk entertaining Mansfield Senior at 7 p.m. at Whitney Field.