Friday, February 17, 2006

Hoover (AL) High To Shine On Small Screen

Here's hoping that four-time Alabama 6A champion Hoover High's venture into the world of reality television isn't a bust like it was for Montour High School in western Pennsylvania.

MTV has announced that sometime this summer it will air "Two-a-Days" (tentative title), which will chronical the Bucanneers run to their 2005 state championship. No air dates or times have been set for the eight part series, but the Birmingham News quotes an MTV official saying the show should air in MTV's primetime line-up at either 9 or 9:30.

This will be the first time that MTV has dipped its toe in the holy waters that are high school football. ESPN has done it several times including last year's "Bound For Glory" in which Hall of Famer Dick Butkus was an assistant on the Mountour High School staff. In my opinion and that of critics "Bound For Glory" was a flop.

Being a television producer myself, I believe that most show makers aren't interested in showing the real in reality. The passion and drama that is high school football doesn't have to be staged. However, also knowing the industry like I do, I know that people don't always act real when the cameras roll.

To read more from the Birmingham News about the show, please click on The High School Huddle's headline "Hoover High To Shine On Small Screen".

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Two New Jersey Powers Looking For Out-of-State Games

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has made an exception that could create a couple extra marquee high school football match-ups in 2006 and 2007.

The executive committee of the NJSIAA has granted St. Joseph of Montvale and Don Bosco Prep of Ramsey a two-year waiver of the 70 percent rule, which means both schools may seek an out-of-state opponent to complete their football schedules.

The reason the waiver was needed was because earlier this year the NJSIAA stepped-in to try to even things up between the public and non-public schools in the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League. The state governing body realigned the NNJIL divisional structure in January so public school football teams would have to play no more than one game per season against each of the four parochial schools.

The reason for that change, since 2001 the publics have only won 9 out of 116 games with the private schools.

The realignment plan guaranteed every team a seven-game schedule for the next two seasons, but for Don Bosco Prep and St. Joseph that seventh game would be a second contest against each other unless each could find a third independent game. However, if the second St. Joseph-Don Bosco Prep game were replaced it would have placed both schools in violation of the state's rule that states that a school must play at least 70-percent of its contests against New Jersey teams prior to the cutoff date to qualify for the state tournament.

When both schools decided they didn't want a second game and then couldn't find any New Jersey teams to play them, the NJSIAA had to allow them to look for out-of-state teams.

The good news for football fans, St. Joseph has verbal agreements to play Poly Prep and Newburgh Free Academy from New York. Don Bosco Prep, who will face national power St. Joseph of Philadelphia and then one of the top teams in Ohio in the second annual McDonald's Kirk Herbstreit's Ohio vs. USA high school football classic.

Neither school has booked a three out of state opponent, but as soon as that happens, The High School Football Huddle will let you know

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Berwick (PA) Gets First New Head Football Coach In 35 Years

In George Curry's incredible reign at Berwick, the Bulldogs not only captured the community's imagination, but the nation's. Even Ted Koppel's Nightline put the Bulldogs in the spotlight after six Pennsylvania state championships, three USA Today mythical national championships and 362 wins in Curry's 35-years.

So it stands to reason that when Curry stepped down, coaches around the nation would be drawn to the tiny town of 10,000 rabid high school football fans. It also stands to reason that the community would be looking inside the program toward former stars, who could keep the tradition rolling.

In the end, it was a guy from of all places...Masschusetts...that won out over a former Bulldog star quarterback.

Gary Campbell, Jr. who led Wahconah Regional High School to two Massachusetts Division 2 Super Bowl wins in ten years, has been named the Dawgs new coach. Campbell beat out Dave Robbins, who's been on Curry's staff for three years, but has no head coaching experience.

It will be interesting to see if the fans are give Campbell more slack because he's an outsider or whether they'll be constantly second-guessing whether the hiring should have come from within. Either way, Campbell will be constantly under the microscope.

To read more about Campbell in the Berkshire Eagle, please click on The High School Football Huddle's headline "Berwick (PA) Gets First News Head Coach In 35 Years".

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Don't Transfer Recruiting Issue To The Legislature In Florida

I applaud the Florida High School Athletic Association's attempt clean-up the dirty business that is recruiting in high school sports and specifically football. That being said, I'm not happy that State Representative Rafael Arza, Chairman of the House Pre-kindergarten-12 Education Committee, is suggesting that if several private and religious high schools can't resolve their problems with the FHSAA's new transfer ruling, then the state legislature may have to step-in.

Arza was asked Tuesday to help reverse the new transfer rule for athletes. The schools say the new rule is discriminatory and will discourage students from enrolling in their schools.

The rule requires students who transfer after beginning the ninth grade to sit out of varsity competition at their new school for a year unless they have moved with their parents to a new address. The rule was adopted in January by the FHSAA Representative Assembly by a vote of 44-8, and that included a 10-5 vote from the private school representatives.

Now with that background, I have to ask the question, why would Arza even entertain this? Now yes, his first suggestion was for the two sides to get together and work this out. However, if they can't Arza and the legislature needs to keep its nose out of this.

The FHSAA is a governing body that doesn't play favorites. It's trying to do the right things for the kids and that is to try its best to keep competive balance. Yes there are instances when athletes transfer for religious reason, but let's be honest, they are few and far between.

Let's face it, when it comes to sports, we all play favorites, because we have our favorites. I graduated nearly 30-year ago, and still have a fondness for my Wilson Warriors. My guess is Arza and his fellow representatives have that same "home team' mentality.

I'm not saying that these elected officials couldn't make the decision, I'm just saying they shouldn't.

As far as these private schools, take a close look and the mirror and try to determine why you're not agreeing with your FHSAA voting members who agreed with the new rule by a 10-5 vote

Thursday, February 09, 2006

South Carolina/Florida High School Football Showdown To Air On ESPN

ESPN continues to shine its spotlight on high school football. Once again this year, the self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports will broadcast several top notch high school football games.

On August 26 the cable network will broadcast the game between Byrnes (South Carolina) and Glades Central High School of Bell Glades, Florida. Byrnes has won four consecutive Class AAAA, Division II championships. The Rebels finished the 2005 season 15-0 and ranked in the top 10 of several national polls.

Glades Central is 57-5 during the past five years. The 2006 team will feature 17 starters from a team that was 12-1 and advanced to the Florida State Class AAA semifinals.

ESPNU is also considering airing the Byrnes game on September 16 when the Rebels travel to Ohio to play Moeller High School.

To read more on the Rebels nationally televised game, click on The High School Football Huddle's headline.

Monday, February 06, 2006

High School Officials To Crackdown On Spearing

The National Federation of High School has made 15 rules changes for the 2006 season. Check out the release below for the details. The biggest is a rule that should reduce the amount of spearing in the football.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (January 31, 2006) — Removal of the word “intentional” from the spearing rule and new requirements for the visiting team’s jersey beginning in 2010 highlighted high school football rules changes this year.

The spearing and jersey rules changes were among 15 changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 21-22 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules subsequently were approved by the NFHS Board of Directors. The NFHS Football Rules Committee is composed of one voting member from each NFHS state high school association that uses NFHS football rules, as well as representatives of the NFHS Coaches Association and NFHS Officials Association.

In Rule 2-40, the rules committee voted to eliminate “intentional” from the spearing wording in the hopes that all illegal helmet contact, which includes spearing, will be called by officials. With reducing the risk of injury of student-athletes the foremost concern, the committee believes this change in wording will continue the “no-tolerance” policy toward illegal use of the helmet in high school football.

“Removing ‘intentional’ from the definition of spearing eliminates the official’s burden of reading ‘intent’ into a clearly unsafe act before imposing the appropriate rule infraction penalty,” said Brad Cashman, executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee. “The NFHS Football Rules Committee is to be commended for its continuing efforts to find ways to take the head out of football.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the rule change that made initial contact with the head while blocking or tackling illegal in high school football. Since 1977, fatalities in high school football have followed a single-digit trend that is in large part due to the annual data collection and recommendations made in the Annual Survey of Football Injury Research to help reduce the incidence of serious injury. Prior to the rule change in 1976, about 20 direct fatalities occurred annually; in the past 10 years, the average has been about four annually.

“With more than one million student-athletes participating in football each year, the committee acknowledges that injuries will occur,” said Jerry Diehl, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the rules committee, “but with the continued strong emphasis on risk minimization, the goal is to reduce that risk as much as possible.”

Because of increasing amounts of color in visiting team’s “light” jerseys, beginning in the 2010 season, more stringent requirements will take effect that will eliminate confusion as to which jerseys are dark and which are light. The revised rule will require the yoke and the body of the visiting team’s jersey to be white and will dictate the areas of the jersey that can have adornments and accessory patterns. Those areas will be stripes on the sleeves, a border around the collar and cuffs, and a side seam (from the underarms to the top of the pants) 4 inches in width.

“Approximately 10 years ago, the NFHS Football Rules Committee began liberalizing the ‘jersey rule’ by removing basic restrictions on decorations and other limitations,” Cashman said. “An unintended consequence of such liberalization has been the often-reported ‘blending’ of the dark-colored home team jerseys and the light-colored visiting team jerseys, creating confusion on the part of players, officials and spectators. Beginning in 2010, that confusion should be eliminated.”

Diehl said that manufacturers have been asking for more direction with regard to the changes in uniform design. The four-year phase-in period will allow this change to be implemented during the normal uniform replacement cycle, thus minimizing the financial impact on schools. He also noted that this change will allow the home team to wear some of the newer styles of jerseys, and, over the course of a season, will be fair to all teams.

In addition to the 15 changes approved at this year’s meeting, two other significant rules dealing with risk management that were approved at last year’s meeting take effect with the 2006 season. Beginning next season, all helmets shall be secured with a four-snap chin strap, and a colored tooth and mouth protector (not clear or white) will be required.

In other 2006 changes, three rules dealing with participation were approved by the committee. A definition was established in Rule 2 noting that participation is “any act or action by a player or non-player that has an influence on play.” The committee revised Rule 3-7-6 to state that “during a down, a replaced player or substitute who enters the field but does not participate, constitutes illegal substitution.” Diehl said that previously the penalty was too severe against an individual who simply stepped on the field and didn’t participate or attempt to participate in the play.

Rule 9-6-4a was revised to state that “when any player, replaced player or substitute enters and participates during a down, it shall be considered illegal participation.”

The rules committee modified the 9-yard marks, which were approved last year for 11-player football, for six-player, eight-player and nine-player games. In those other three versions of football, 7-yard marks, 12 inches in length and 4 inches in width, shall be located 7 yards from each sideline. The 7-yard marks shall be marked so that each successive 10-yard line bisects the 7-yard marks. These marks shall not be required if the field is visibly numbered.

The Football Rules Committee appointed a subcommittee to better address modifications necessary in the other three forms of the game of football. Diehl said this subcommittee should be beneficial to those states that sponsor six-player, eight-player or nine-player football.

Among the points of emphasis approved by the committee is one dealing with the proper procedures for handling apparent concussions. This point of emphasis will be included in all NFHS rules books in 2006-07.

The action plan for handling apparent concussions states that if one suspects that a player has a concussion, the following steps should be taken: 1) remove athlete from play; 2) ensure that the athlete is evaluated by an appropriate health-care professional and don’t try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself; 3) inform the athlete’s parents or guardians about the known or possible concussion and give them the fact sheet on concussion; and 4) allow the athlete to return to play only with permission from an appropriate health-care professional.

Other changes approved by the committee:

Rule 1-2-3g – Advertising and/or commercial markings on the field of play are prohibited; however, this change permits advertising in the end zones.

Rule 1-3-5b – The official line-to-gain and down indicators shall be operated approximately 6 feet outside the sideline, where facilities permit.

Rule 1-5-1f2 – Beginning in 2008, when measuring the length of a non-removable cleat, the measurement shall be from the tip of the cleat to the sole of the shoe.

Rule 1-6-2 – Phones and headsets may be used by coaches and other non-players. Players may only use phones and headsets during authorized sideline conferences.

Rule 2-6-2a – One or more team members and one or more coaches may confer directly in front of the team box within 9 yards of the sideline for an authorized sideline conference.

Rule 2-31-8 – A player becomes a kicker when a knee, lower leg or foot makes contact with the ball.

Rule 4-2-2 – A holder may rise and catch or recover an errant snap and immediately return a knee(s) to the ground and place the ball for a kick or again rise to advance, hand, kick or pass.

Rule 7-2-8 – Any player on offense on his line of scrimmage may not advance a planned loose ball in the vicinity of the snapper.

Rule 7-5-10, 13 – The act of illegally touching the ball by an ineligible player carries the same penalty whether the act occurs behind, in or beyond the line of scrimmage.

In terms of participants, football is the No. 1 sport for boys at the high school level. Combined with 25,669 participants in six-player, eight-player and nine-player football, a total of 1,071,163 boys participated in high school football in 2004, according to the 2004-05 High School Athletics Participation Survey conducted by the NFHS. Eleven-player football (1,045,494) ranks fourth in terms of school sponsorship for boys with 13,671 high schools sponsoring the sport. In addition, 1,627 girls participated in football (1,473 in 11-player) during the 2004 season.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bush Involved In Recruiting War?

Well if it wasn't enough that his brother is constanly being question on the war in Iraq, Florida Governor Jeb Bush is being questioned about his involvement in the recruiting war for New Jersey high school player Myron Rolle, who many considered one of the top five recruits in the nation.

Bush admitted last week to sending a message Rolle, who played his high school ball at the Hun School, encouraging him to come to play at Florida State.

Now Seminole officials are going to have to answer recruiting violation questions.

"The NCAA is aware of the situation and has been in contact with Florida State University," the NCAA said in a statement. "We are waiting for the university to submit information, and we will analyze it to determine if any violations occurred."

To read more on the story on Rolle, who's already on campus in Tallahassee from the Sun Sentinal, please click on The High School Football Huddle's headline "Bush Involved In Recruting War?".

Thursday, February 02, 2006

What Is Signing Day?

Signing Day has come and gone, and quite honestly I'm still not sure what all of the hype is about!!

As I said when I started The High School Football Huddle, it's not just about the blue chippers and Division I-A. Of course we're giving you the info you need, but we are not or

What I ask is that you take the time in the fall of 2006 to get to your local game, and enjoy the game for what it is...a coming together of community.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution had a nice article on Signing Day, so click on The High School Football Huddle's headline "What Is Signing Day".