The National Federation of State High School Associations called it one of the most substantial game administration rules changes to be approved in the past 10 years.
In an effort to establish a more consistent time period between downs in high school football, the play clock now starts at 40 seconds instead of 25 seconds.
After covering a game in Verona and talking to a couple of area coaches, the consensus is that for the first week of the season, the new format had little or no impact on any games.
With so many teams now running some kind of version of the no-huddle offense, at times, the extra 15 seconds didn’t come into play.
“I didn’t notice it at all,” Edgerton coach Mike Gregory said of the 40 seconds now allotted between plays. “The only incident I can think of where it might have come into play was late when we were trying to run a little clock with the lead where we seemed to get a little more time.
“Other than that, I didn’t notice it one bit.”
Edgerton picked up a big win with a 28-7 victory over defending Rock Valley Conference champion McFarland.
Before this season, the ball was marked ready for play when, after it had been placed for a down, the referee gave the ready-for-play signal and the 25-second count began.
The play clock will continue to start at 25 seconds prior to a try following a score; to start a period or overtime series; following administration of an inadvertent whistle; following a charged timeout; following an official’s timeout, with a few exceptions, and following the stoppage of the play clock by the referee for any other reason.
In all other cases, 40 seconds will be placed on the play clock and start when the ball is declared dead by a game official.
Beloit Turner coach Derek Diehl saw his team open the season with a 21-13 Rock Valley win over Whitewater. The Trojans led 21-0 at half, and Diehl said the officiating crew did a good job of explaining and implementing the 40-second play clock.
“I don’t think it was really a factor as far as getting plays off,” Diehl said. “It might’ve hurt Whitewater a couple of times where they had a delay penalty, but overall, it wasn’t that big of a deal.
“I think what you’re going to find is that the extra 15 seconds are going to speed things up when a play goes out of bounds because the time starts as soon as the whistle blows and not when the ball is spotted. And for inbounds plays, it will certainly give your offense a little bit more time to get settled and get a play run.”
I covered Verona’s 41-7 Big Eight Conference win over Janesville Parker. The Wildcats ran primarily out of a no-huddle offense where the 40-second clock was a non-factor.
Parker also ran some no-huddle and did not have trouble getting any plays off. There were no delay of game penalties in the game, and the second half was played under a running clock with Verona leading by 35 points.
We’ll see how the rest of the season plays out, but after Week 1, it doesn’t appear that adding 15 seconds to the play clock is going to be as substantial as the NFHS predicted.