PIAA approves kicking game, scrimmage options for sub-varsity football teams

Sunday, July 19, 2020 | 11:35 PM

Middle school, junior high and junior varsity football coaches can eliminate kickoffs and punts this season, or turn their games into scrimmages, if they choose.

The PIAA board approved a plan Wednesday that provides flexibility for coaches looking to teach rather than compete. The proposal was adopted as a one-year pilot program.

Under the new rule, sub-varsity teams can agree to:

Play a traditional game.

Play a traditional game with no kickoffs or punts.

Play a modified scrimmage with alternating 10-play series and a 90-minute time limit.

The PIAA described the program “as a true learning and teaching opportunity.”

The rule does not apply to varsity football. The format must be decided in advance. If the two schools don’t agree, then a traditional game is played.

“It is recommended that these modifications be discussed and agreed upon by athletic directors and coaches well before game time, preferably in the week leading up to the game, and shared with the registered officials in advance of the event,” the PIAA writes.

Under the modified kicking game option, instead of a kickoff, the receiving team takes possession at its own 35-yard line. The possession after a safety starts at its 45. After a touchback, the ball is placed at the 20.

Punts also are eliminated.

Instead of a punt, the ball is advanced 35 yards. If the “punting” team is already inside an opponent’s 45-yard line, the ball is placed at the 20.

Otherwise, the game is played as normal.

Under the modified scrimmage option, each team would run 10 plays starting at its own 25-yard line and then alternate possession. Down-and-distance situations can be kept during those 10 plays.

Among the other requirements: the scrimmage can contain no more than 40 “live contact” plays for each team and last no longer than 90 minutes.

Score cannot be kept.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review Staff Writer. You can contact Chris by email at charlan@triblive.com or via Twitter .

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