MHSAA makes football season changes

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 23, 2013

NATCHEZ — At least two local coaches have no issues with changes made to the high school football season by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

The MHSAA has changed the start time of all football games to 7 p.m. Friday nights and also did away with mandatory bye weeks in the classes 1A, 5A and 6A levels. Previously, games began at 7:30 p.m. in August and September before shifting to 7 p.m. in October.

Natchez High School head coach Lance Reed said heat-related issues are what made the MHSAA mandate 7:30 p.m. start times in the earlier months of the season.

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“I personally like (the changes),” Reed said. “There’s not much of a difference between 7 and 7:30 as far as heat goes. We have to travel far quite often, and it’s good to be able to get back on the road at a decent time of night.”

Cathedral High School head coach Ron Rushing also said he’s happy with the changes and doesn’t think the players will be adversely affected by the earlier start.

“They’ll still give us heat breaks and all that, so I don’t think it will be a factor,” Rushing said.

In previous seasons, MHSAA teams could play 11 games over a 12-week period, not counting the playoffs. Even though bye weeks are no longer mandatory, Reed said he’ll still have a bye week this fall. Though there have been instances were his team didn’t play well following a week off, last season was an exception, he said.

“Last year we had a successful bye week where we came back and hit on all cylinders against Meridian,” Reed said. “We played around with some different things during that week. It’s a quality time to get things ready.”

Rushing, however, said he opted to fill his bye week with Oak Forest Academy in the ninth week of the season.

“They’re a really physical team, and we struggle with a lot of teams that run straight at us,” Rushing said. “Hopefully it’ll get us ready for the playoffs, where we’ll face a lot of those teams.”

Another change made by the MHSAA is having fall practice start Aug. 5. Classic games will take place Aug. 23 and the first week of the regular season, Aug. 30. All of this comes a week later than it did this past fall.

“We still have two weeks of prep,” Reed said. That doesn’t make anything different for us.”

Rushing said he’s glad the start of fall camp begins in August instead of late July.

“With it being as hot as it is, I think that’s a good deal also,” Rushing said.