Mercy me

There are a multitude of changes coming this fall to high school sports.

Several have already taken effect, like limited contact between coaches and players during specific weeks in the summer, and some will happen once teams begin regular competition this weekend.

Yet, the one that gets the most attention — outside of sectional realignment proposals — is the mercy rule for football.

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It states when a point differential reaches 35 points in the second half, the game clock will convert to a running clock for the remainder of the game with a few exceptions. Those being for timeouts, scores and injuries. Once the running clock goes into effect, it will not revert to a standard clock regardless of the score.

Unlike in years past, neither coaches nor officials will be consulted before the clock goes into effect. Once the point differential has been met, the running clock begins.

Jackson County football fans could experience the effects of a running clock as soon as Week 1.

Brownstown Central, which opens the season ranked No. 6 in Class 3A in the preseason coaches’ poll, won their first five games of the season in 2018 by an average of 40.6 points. The closest margin was 35 points in Week 4 against Salem.

Braves coach Reed May is glad to see the IHSAA install a running clock.

“It’s something we needed,” May said. “In 26 years, we’ve beaten a lot of (teams) pretty bad, and I’m glad we’ve got the running clock now. We may not need it this year, but it’s a good idea.”

He credits Brownstown Central Athletic Director Mark DeHart for helping get the message through to the IHSAA.

“Really, Mr. DeHart and myself have been talking about it, and I think he’s been sending proposals to the IHSAA for a few years now,” May said.

For Seymour coach Michael Kelly, he wishes coaches were still consulted before a running clock starts and that the clock would revert once the point differential sinks below 35.

“You get to 35 points, the running clock starts,” Kelly said. “Then you could get a touchdown, a turnover or quick change of possession and then score again, and then all of sudden, you’re down only 21 points.”

Still, despite his objections, Kelly thinks the rule is going to be a good thing, especially for teams that have strong varsity talent but don’t always have the overwhelming amount of kids to play in the second half when the game is out of hand.

The IHSAA sets rules to limit how many quarters a player can participate in during a week. A junior varsity player playing in a quarter of a Friday night game loses a quarter of his JV or freshman eligibility for the week.

“The reason why we did that as an IFCA was to relieve some pressure of teams when you get late into the game, especially on those that don’t have the ability to have two platoons of football and they have to leave their Nos. 1 in a lot longer because they have to play JV the next night,” Kelly said. “I think it’s going to help out because then you can get some extra minutes with your JV out there.”

Football season gets started Aug. 23. Seymour opens up against South Dearborn at home, and Brownstown Central hosts Corydon Central. Both games are set for a 7 p.m. kickoff.

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