The National Federation of State High School Associations Rules Committee implemented a change for the 2019 football season affecting both when the play clock starts and how much time is on the clock.
Prior to the rule change, teams received 25 seconds on the play clock, and the time started once the ball was spotted by an official.
The new rule changes the play clock to 40 seconds, and officials must start the clock when the previous play is complete.
Childersburg head coach Jonathan Beverly said he is loving the change.
“We’re excited about it because we want to pick the tempo up offensively,” he said. “Also, I think it totally changes the dynamic at the end of the game in a one-possession situation because now there’s just one uniform way that the clock is going to run.”
He said under the previous rule, it could take officials time to spot the football depending on how fast the crew was operating and whether ball carriers were slow to get off the ball as instructed by their coaches.
“If you’ve got a fast crew that spots the ball fast, under the old rule, the 25-second clock could have been good for you, but if you had a slow crew, instead of it being 40 total seconds, it could turn into 50, 55 or 60 seconds in between plays,” Beverly said. “Now, you’ve got one uniform clock rule, and regardless of what kind of crew you have, if they’re moving fast or moving slow, everybody’s going to be on the same playing field.”
Beverly said he welcomes the change because his team wants to speed things up on offense, but defensively, he explained it would help the Tigers against teams that want to slow down the pace.
“For us, we open up the season against a team (Shelby County) that likes to drain a lot of clock and move very slowly and methodically,” he said. “It’s going to have to speed them up and probably take them out of their comfort zone.
“That’s something we’re looking forward to, but on the flipside, we want to play fast, and that’s going to hold us accountable. We have to execute because that 40-second play clock is more accountability for us.”
Winterboro head coach Alan Beckett said he was in favor of the new play clock.
“I like it because it takes (away) the human error of when they’re going to set the clock,” he said. “There’s no ifs, ands or buts. When the play ends, the clock is rolling. I’m 100 percent for it.”
Beckett said the change wouldn’t have an impact on his team’s tempo.
“We are some pace, but weren’t not all-the-time pace,” he said. “I don’t think it would hugely impact us, but I like it either way. I like that being a possibility if we wanted to pace somebody.”
Fayetteville head coach John Limbaugh said he had no issue with the change.
“I don’t have a problem with it whatsoever,” he said. “It’s going to speed the game up. The officials are going to be on top of things. As soon as that tackle is made, they’re going to get things going … For those teams that like to run the hurry-up, it’s no problem for them at all, but the defense will have to get ready.”
Lincoln head coach Matt Zedaker said while it won’t really affect the Golden Bears offensively, he did have a concern about the new rule.
“Offensively, the way we like to do things, it all comes out in the wash,” he said. “The only thing that concerns me is coaches are coaches, and they’re going to find a way to use that to their advantage (as far as) personnel changes and substitutions-wise.
“I think, eventually, you’ll see it go to how it is in college, where if an offense subs late, they’ll let a defense match it. Until it gets to that, personally, I think it’s fine.”
Zedaker said his team will be practicing scenarios related to the new clock as fall camp progresses.
“We did it a little bit in spring training because we knew we were going to have it in our spring game,” he said. “Once we get full pads, we’ll start working the 40 seconds just so the kids know the timing of it.
“Again, the way we run our offense, I think we’ll be just fine, but yeah, we’ll definitely work it. We’ve got our clocks working up there, so when we go live in a scrimmage or in a 7-on-7, we’ll do that, especially when we run our two-minute drill.”