(8-23-18) A WCPO-TV (Cincinnati) story, The elimination of the varsity high school football kickoff in Ohio may be inevitable, points to the possible reality of the kickoff being abolished in Ohio and in the US as well in the near future.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Sport Medicine Advisory Committees (SMAC) saw the need for kickoffs being eliminated at the Freshmen level and at the JV level (unless mutually agreed upon to use it). So why did the committee decide not to enforce the same rule for high school football? The SMAC reportedly did not see any medical data at this point to elminate it at the varsity level at this time. With Jr. High, Freshman and (at some) JV games having the kickoff eliminated, the next step looks to be varsity football. Younger players in the future will be at a disadvantage having never been on either side of a kickoff formation until they reach high school.
The OHSAA is a state association that is firmly committed to following what the NFHS recommends, which would include any new rule implemented by the safety committee. The only real question is when will that happen.
In 2018 the Minnesota State High School League (MSHL) will be conducting an NFHS approved rules experiment dealing with kickoff formations. Information will be used to again look at the continuance of kickoffs and the safety of the players.
Local coaches were asked to give us their thoughts on the future of the kickoff at the high school level:
Coldwater Head Coach Chip Otten
I would hate to see KO and KO Return be eliminated. A huge part of the game especially at the HS level. At the College and Pro level everyone has a good kicker and spend a lot of time on kicking. At the HS level the KO/KOR can be a huge advantage or disadvantage for a team. In our case it has always been a strength. It is an exciting play and gets many kids on the field that might not be starters or best players. At the end of a game if you can’t onside kick you basically are conceding defeat. The element of surprise with an onside kick makes the game more exciting. With the new blindside type block rules you don’t get the big hits like we use to…so it has become safer.
Story updated 8-25-18
Coach Otten tells us about how the kicking game was a key part of the Cavaliers opening night (8-24-18) win over Kenton.
To add to the discussion on the kicking game. In last nights game on KO alone we kicked 2 in the endzone. Recovered 2 mishandled pooch kicks. Tackled their return man on the 4 after another mishandled KO. After a score by opponent we recovered an onside attempt. we returned a punt 48 yards to set up a TD. Without the kicking game this game is right down to the wire. Because of Kicking game we pulled away a bit in the 2nd half. we also made 7 xtra points and made a 32 yd FG to go up 10 points in the 3rd Q. Kicking game was the difference in the game and especially KO
The results are hard to dispute.
Celina Head Coach Brennen Bader
I am a proponent of making the game safer and I do believe some rule changes in high school football are necessary. I am not however, in favor of eliminating the kickoff because it can be a strategic part of the game, and it is one of the most entertaining plays in football. It is part of what makes the game so great. Eliminating or making blindside/defenseless player rules a point of emphasis should alleviate some of the unnecessary collisions that often times lead to injuries on kickoffs.
The choice to eliminate the kickoff will be a topic in the coming future, will it happen in the near future? Time will tell.