The times they are a changing

Published 10:03 pm Thursday, July 24, 2008

To play or not to play hasn’t exactly been the question for local prep football teams over the past five seasons or so.

It has actually been more of a question of what time to play. But all that has changed, thanks to a move by the Mississippi High School Activities Association.

The MHSAA has mandated that all football games after Oct.1 and through the remainder of the regular season and playoffs must begin at 7 p.m.

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This comes on the heels of at least a half-decade of teams being able to decide on the starting times of their home games, be it 7 p.m., or 7:30 p.m.

Locally, most schools have traditionally always had a 7:30 kickoff for home games. However, several schools on the Gulf Coast changed to a 7 p.m., kickoff over the past few years, creating a bit of controversy at times for schools in Region 8-4A resulting in having a 7 p.m., start one week and a 7:30 kickoff the next.

“I don’t know if it will make that big a difference, it’s just something you have to get used to because you don’t have a choice,” Picayune head coach and Athletics Coordinator Dodd Lee said. “Thirty minutes definitely makes a difference in September with the heat. After that, who knows. I guess the one thing it might do is get you into a rhythm for playing at 7 going into the playoffs.”

Apparently, Picayune, PRC and Pop-larville will continue the 7:30 kickoff format for games in the first half of the season. Games before the first of October have always included “heat time outs” as mandated by the MHSAA for the past 15 years or so, which consists of extra breaks in the middle of each quarter.

“I think the 7:30 start because of the heat is better for a team like us which has so many players going both ways,” said PRC head coach Jeremy Weir. “To be honest I wish we would just have one starting time and keep it the same throughout.”

New Poplarville head coach Chris Teal will have to adjust to the change as well.

“We’ll follow the format of playing at 7:30 early in the year and then at 7 after that,” Teal added. “It might be a good move. It might get the kids home a little bit earlier than normal. The parents might appreciate that.”