When Indiana high school football’s sixth class was made several years ago, bye weeks followed for the state’s larger football teams.
For fans, it can be a bummer to have a football Friday without your favorite team, but for coaches — and especially players — a week off can be a welcomed boon.
Injuries are, unfortunately, a part of football, and Friday’s game between Seymour and Floyd Central resulted in some bumps and bruises for the Owls.
Fortunately, they’ll get two full weeks to get ready before they head north up Interstate 65 to face the Franklin Grizzly Cubs.
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This year, though, is a little different for Seymour, said coach Mike Kelly.
“This year is unique in that we know who we’re playing, so we have the advantage of scouting them this week," Kelly said. "We’ll come in and have our coaches’ meeting, set our game plan and kind of have a typical week’s worth of practice Monday through Thursday. Friday we’ll be off, and we’ll come back on Monday and just continue on as we would with our regular week of practice.”
It’s new territory for most of the teams in Sectional 14 due to Columbus East bumping up to Class 6A and 5A teams getting shuffled around.
Kelly, however, isn’t going to beat football to death for his players over these two weeks. Instead, he’s making sure they have the appropriate amount of time to relax and unwind.
“The idea is that we want to give them a couple of days away from football, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and come back on Monday ready to get to work," he said. "It gives us a chance to get healed up. We got a couple of bumps and bruises (Friday night), and hopefully, we can get those guys in and ready to play for Franklin.”
Getting healthy is a nice byproduct of having a week off, but there are some coaches who may not want to get out of their regimen.
Football is often considered one of the most heavily regimented sports. Throwing off a week of preparation can sometimes throw off game play.
Brownstown Central coach Reed May would be open to the idea of having a week off, but programs in 4A on down are typically in eight-team sectionals, and bye weeks are not a possibility.
“It depends on how banged up you are," May said. "If we’re pretty injured, it’d give us a chance to get healthy. Me personally, if we had a week off, it wouldn’t be that bad. We get healthy, get a chance to rejuvenate and watch film on your next opponent. Either way, it would have been fine.”
During his time as Indiana Football Coaches Association president, May said he suggested adding a 10th regular-season game for the larger classes to give them a chance at scheduling another opponent.
"We suggested letting the bigger schools add a 10th game," May said. "Now, they’ve got five home and five away games, and maybe they can play some out-of-state teams."
High-profile programs in Indianapolis like Warren Central, Cathedral and Carmel regularly play out-of-state teams.
With not every 5A team getting a bye week, the idea of adding a 10th game was not accepted by the IHSAA. Two sectionals, 10 and 13, both have games tonight.
Depending on how tonight’s Brownstown Central vs. Charlestown game goes, it could either be the first or last Friday with only one Jackson County football team playing.