FORT WAYNE – A growing trend among high school football teams in Indiana was endorsed this spring by the IHSAA.
In May, the IHSAA approved a proposal from the Indiana Football Coaches Association to allow schools up to 12 football-activity days during the summer where coaches can work with two or more players from their teams.
Additionally, five of those days were designated to allow players to practice or compete against another school.
The official two-a-day practices begin Aug. 4.
“It benefits us because we know everybody is doing pretty much the same thing during the summer,” said Bluffton coach Randy Hudgins, who was previously the coach at Columbia City. “What a lot of us worried about is keeping up with the Joneses of we heard these guys are doing this, this and this so therefore we have to do this, this and this.
“The injury risk is big with that, and that has been kind of the concern with the IHSAA … and kind of standardizing that. That was all done voluntarily with a proposal from the coaches association.”
Hudgins talked about the subject Friday at North Side at the 2014 Northeast Indiana Football Media Day before returning to Bluffton for a scrimmage against Garrett.
“For me and the way I have done it, it is not that different,” Garrett coach Chris DePew said. “We have been able to scrimmage, and it is always been non-contact.
“We had two different camp weeks, June camp week and New Haven came up and scrimmaged us, then we are finishing this week and going to Bluffton and scrimmaging them. We can get a lot done, and it is more competitive and fun to go against another school, but I just don't want to ever overdo it. I want them to come back in August wanting to play football. I don't want them to feel like June and July is football season.”
SAC champion North Side got the chance to scrimmage against East Noble and NHC champion New Haven during the summer.
“We will never play those guys, so it's nice to build friendships there and to see NHC football,” North Side coach Ryan Hall said. “With the new rule, it's hard to get adjusted to but I like it.”
Hall and North Side did their football activities in July, while June was for lifting and running.
“We hit it hard in July, and then we will carry that over into August,” Hall said. “It's almost like another month of practice. We are way more prepared right now than at this point of the season than we were last year.”
DePew said the new, better-defined summer rules could help schools with multisport athletes.
“I am waiting for every other sport to have something similar, especially for the smaller schools where we rely on the two- and three-sport athletes more,” he said. “We have kids who play three sports in June, and they are just run ragged.
“The pressure is on us in football to find time with our limitations to choose our moments so we can have all our kids. Even when they are playing everything else. It behooves us to move more of our stuff to July, but there are a lot of June opportunities you don't want to lose.”