LANCASTER – There are two major changes in high school football this season, and area coaches have mixed reviews on both.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association adopted a mercy rule that will provide for a running clock after a team takes a 30-point lead in the second half. The rule is meant to speed up lopsided games. If the lead drops below 30 points, the clock will revert to regular timing.
“I understand its purpose, but I’ve always thought if you don’t want a team to score that many points then don’t let them,” Berne Union coach Steve Daulton said. “It has its positives and negatives. I do like when it gets back to under 30 points we go back to a regular clock.”
Fairfield Christian Academy coach B.J. Queen said he agrees with the new rule, however, it might eliminate younger players from playing as much.
“I like the new mercy rule because coaches can get emotional and don’t realize how bad the score is and it can get out of hand,” Queen said. “Kids can get hurt and feelings can get hurt. Sportsmanship is very important.
“My only concern with mercy rule is with clock running as fast as it does, you won’t be able to get young kids in. In my situation, we won’t have a reserve team, so my hope was to get kids on the field once we secured a lead, but now with the clock running, we may not be able to do that.”
The other big change is the state finals will be played in Ohio Stadium for the first time in 24 years. Since 1991, the state finals have been played in Stark County at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon and Fawcett Stadium in Canton.
Millersport coach Terry Holbert said he will miss making the trip to Stark County — something he has done with his dad since he was little.
“I’ve got mixed feeling on it,” Holbert said. “I’ve attended a bunch of state tournaments with my dad. He was a long-time football coach at Trimble and I’ve certainly developed an appreciation for Canton and the Stark County area. It is going to be weird. But is also a dream of every kid in Ohio to play in Ohio Stadium.”
Daulton isn’t a big fan of switching the sites, mainly because of how big Ohio Stadium is.
“I love going up to Canton,” Daulton said. “The atmosphere, the history and the tradition of those two stadiums is unmatched. The central location is nice because it’s close to home, but I never minded going up there.
“I do feel like Ohio Stadium will feel extremely empty. It does take away from the environment. What makes our championships different is the crowd. I would never turn down an opportunity to play or coach in one, but if I had my choice, I would rather it be up in Stark County.”
The state final games will take place Dec. 4-6 in Ohio Stadium, which seats more than 100,000.