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PIAA considering major changes to format for junior varsity football

JOHN ERZAR
(Wilkes-Barre) Times-Leader (TNS)
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Junior varsity football could have a drastically new look for the upcoming season.

The PIAA moved closer to allowing schools to modified timing and playing rules for sub-varsity football — also known as junior varsity — at its board of directors meeting on Wednesday.

The changes would make junior varsity games more of a scrimmage than an actual game. Both schools would have to agree to the format before playing.

Under the format, there would be no kickoffs and possession would start on the 25-yard line. Each team would run 10 plays followed by a two-minute break. The teams would the run 10 plays each followed by a five-minute break. There would be two more 10-plays-each segments to conclude play.

The entire process, including a warm-up period, can not exceed 90 minutes. There will be officials and coaches will be allowed on the field.

“Not only is this going to give our JV kids an opportunity to play — and if you’ve coached JV football you’re on the bus to the game and trying to figure out who is going to play a position, who’s going to punt, who’s going to kick, who’s going to do all those things — and that becomes problematic,” District 3 representative Ron Kennedy said. “You end up having your fullback play center or something like that. This addresses some of that.

“But the piece we didn’t mention the other day, and I think this is an important piece, the officials can use this as a really good learning tool. So if you have a younger official and they need some time to gain some experience in football, this would be the perfect time to train them because it’s essentially a scrimmage.”

The format would not affect junior high football or freshman football unless the teams competing have what is considered sub-varsity teams at those levels.

The football steering committee made the recommendation to the board on January. It passed the first two readings and was set to pass a third on Wednesday, which would have made it official. Some board members, though, asked that the sports medicine advisory board and officials council be allowed to review the proposal.

So now any change will need to pass two more readings, although District 3 representative Doug Bohannon suggested the board suspend protocol and make a final vote during the June meeting rather than wait until July.