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      High school football programs adapt to new MHSAA changes

      The Michigan High School Athletic Association recently added new rules for football practice with hopes of limiting the number of injuries.

      Preseason practice for high school football started this week. But some new rules will change the schedules of over 40,000 football players in the state.

      ??The new rules are you are only allowed to have one full collision practice a day during the two-a-days and you are only allowed two collision practices during the week once the season starts?? said David Lhullier, Marquette Head Coach.

      Any live hitting drill that you do is considered a collision practice.

      ??If you do one 15 minute tackling drill in a defensive practice that is considered a full collision practice?? said Lhullier. ??It really is not going to affect us a lot. It is just that if you wanted to spend an extra 15 minutes on a drill in the second practice you are not able to do that anymore.??

      Full pads are also not to be worn until the fifth day of practice. Players used to have four full days in pads the first week. Now they only have one.

      ??I think it is going to be a good rule?? said Jeff Olson, Ishpeming Head Coach. ??The only thing you have to watch out for is: are kids going to be ready for contact when the first game comes around???

      While coaches agree it is important to look out for the kids, they feel it could slow the season down or lead to stricter rules in the future.

      ??They are always trying to do something to make the game a little bit safer and I am all for that?? said Olson. ??It just remains to be seen if this is going to make the game safer or are they going to be not quite where they need to be come that first game when it is live contact.??

      ??The rules might change a little bit more and become a little stricter, but hopefully it stays how it is now?? said Dominic Suardini, Ishpeming Senior Captain. ??I know what we have been doing for years has worked so I do not think it should change much more.??

      ??There will be some adjustments that we do have to make, but again, the rules are intended to be as safe as it can for the kids?? said Lhullier.

      Other rule changes include the amount of time players are allowed to practice. No one practice can exceed three hours or five hours total per day. In addition, rules were added restricting targeting of opponent and illegal helmet contact with defenseless players, with both resulting in 15 yard penalties. On kickoffs, the kicking team must have at least four players on either side of the kicker. No kicking team players except for the kicker may line up more than five yards behind the free-kick line.

      Other sports saw some changes, as well. The ban on wearing jewelry has been lifted in cross country. In soccer, home teams must wear solid white jerseys and socks, with visiting teams in dark jerseys and socks. Both field players and goalkeepers must now leave the field when injured and the referee has stopped the clock. In swimming, the use of starter??s pistols is now prohibited. Also, in the backstroke, swimmers may not submerge his or her entire body after the start except for during turns.

      For more information on these changes, visit www.mhsaa.com .