On the clock: New 40 – second clock rules force officials, teams to adjust on game pace


For at least the next three years, Indiana will experiment with an approach to timing football games.

In conjunction with the National Federation of High Schools, the IHSAA has adopted a 40-second play clock — like the ones used in college and the pros — in place of the traditional 25-second clock.

Colorado and Michigan also will change to 40-second clocks this season, and Texas has used the model since 2014.

The NFHS will determine if they want to adopt the new rule nationally after a three-year trial period with the three test states.

Before, the clock stopped until the ball was spotted by an official following an offensive play.

Now, the 40-second clock restarts as soon as play is whistled dead.

“An official will raise his arms straight up, indicating that the ball is dead and signal for the 40-second clock to start,” according to IHSAA documents. “A clock operator will immediately start the clock, unless something else occurs that requires the 25-second play clock to reset.”

With the new clock, all members of the crew will have to stay sharp at all times.

Seymour’s Greg Reasoner, who is entering his 8th year of refereeing varsity football, said that everyone will have to work in sync.

“I think the biggest challenges will be for the chain crew and ball boys to keep up especially after first downs and for the play clock person to be ready to start it after each play,” Reasoner said. “The IHSAA is recommending that each team have at least one ball boy on each sideline. The chain gang might have to move quickly on long plays.”

The IHSAA said the 40-second clock is inoperable unless there are a minimum of five crew members.

Every team will have three ball boys on their sideline to assist the officials, with two of those three responsible for their team while the third will be responsible for the other team when it is on offense.

While there might be some bumps along the way, Reasoner expects the games to have a more consistent pace down the road.

“I think it will even out the pace of play, not sure if it will speed it up,” Reasoner said. “Before, the play clock (25 seconds) would start after everything was set. Now that is part of the 40 seconds. I think the key is for everyone to have a consistent pace — don’t try to rush.”

Both Brownstown Central and Seymour operate in no-huddle offenses.

Braves coach Reed May said he doesn’t feel the change will severely impact his team.

“The way we use to do it, where we had the quarterback come to the sideline and get a play, I don’t know that it would work now,” May said. “I don’t worry about it because we get the play in so darn quick anyway.

“I would say 25 percent of the teams we played last year used a no-huddle. Most teams still huddle-up. Defensively, we also use wristbands.”

May did say, however, that some of the older chain crews may struggle keeping up with the pace of the game as they will need to constantly run — especially on big plays.

Owls coach Josh Shattuck said he looks forward to the new clock.

“Since we’re no-huddle, it doesn’t change much,” Shattuck said. “I think it’s good for the game. It makes the pace of play consistent regardless of who the officials are — I like the changes.”

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When fans will see the 40 and 25-second clocks in high school football (per IHSAA).

40 second clock

1. End of a running play at the end of the run, in bounds or out of bounds.

2. End of a pass play, complete or incomplete.

25 second clock

1. Following a touch back

2. Following a charged timeout by either team.

3. Following a penalty assessment and/or enforcement

4. Following an official’s timeout for an injury to a player the clock will reset.

5. At the start of a period or overtime.

6. Following a change of possession.

7. Following a media timeout.

8. Following an official’s timeout for a measurement.

9. Following an official’s timeout.

10. Try for point after touchdown.

** Should a player get injured, and an official use a timeout, the clock will reset.


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