Area high school football coaches are convinced that a new rule change from the N.C. High School Athletic Association is going to help teams be more prepared for the 2018 season.
Last December, the NCHSAA Board of Directors voted to allow football coaches to work with an unlimited number of student-athletes for at least 90 minutes per day. A licensed athletic trainer or first responder must attend the workouts if protective equipment is used, and no football pants and no contact is allowed.
"It definitely makes a difference," said Myers Park football coach Scott Chadwick. "It's been good for us. We've been able to get our kids out there and get a jump start."
Coaches, like Chadwick, told the Observer they were able to start skill development sessions at any time this spring except during in-season tryouts and from Feb. 14-March 6. Workouts also cannot be held for the final 10 days of the current semester.
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Teams originally had 10 days of workouts with unlimited players or unlimited days with 21 players within eligible practice windows.
"Before," Chadwick said, "if you chose spring practice in May, you couldn't do anything with all your kids, football-wise, in February, March or April. Then you went out there in May for 10 practices and you have about 100 kids. Once, we tried it with 21 kids per day (earlier in the spring). It was a tough call. We tried it both ways. Now, we don't have to anymore."
Chadwick said his school used workouts in February, March and April this year to teach fundamentals and technique, then really focused on schemes during May, waiting as late as possible to get started to allow any spring sports athletes to join the team. Chadwick said the spring workouts also gives college coaches, who are visiting campuses, a chance to see recruits on the field, which is a positive, he said.
Most area teams, like Myers Park, will resume workouts shortly after school ends. South Mecklenburg, for example, begins summer workouts June 19. The NCHSAA has dead periods July 2-8 and July 16-22 when no workouts are allowed.
"We're going to have a 7-on-7 on June 14," Chadwick said, "and if we didn't have that time in May, I"m not sure how you get there by June 14 and put any kind of decent product on the field. Now we can go out there and have 80 percent of our passing game at our disposal. So that's been the biggest thing: being able to work those early spring months gives you time to focus on fundamentals and then by the time you get to August, you're that much more ahead of the game from a scheme standpoint. It'll be a better game for the fans."
Spring High School Football Games
The Observer asked area schools if they were having spring football "games." For NCHSAA teams, these will be more of a non-contact workout session, more akin to a 7-on-7.
Andrew Jackson – Thursday, May 31 at 4:30 p.m.
Anson County – Friday, May 25 at 6 p.m.
Christ the King – Friday, May 11
Clover – Friday, May 18 at 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium
Fort Mill – Saturday, May 19 at 11 a.m.
Hopewell – Wednesday, May 23 – “Titan Day Spring Game”
Hunter Huss – Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m.
Independence – Wednesday, May 23 at 7:30 - “Spring Green and Gold Game”
Monroe – Saturday, May 19 – Community Day 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Spring Game/practice time 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Northwestern – Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m. at District III Stadium
Providence – Friday, May 25 at 6:30 p.m.
South Pointe (SC) – Thursday, May 24 at 6 p.m.