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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)

A new rule should prevent teams such as Belmont (0-9 last season) from absorbing lopsided football losses. That's because for the first time a second-half running clock will be used in Ohio high school football if the spread reaches 30 points.

Six of Belmont's games were decided by 48 or more points last season. Much of those margins were determined by halftime.

"It's a decent rule, but 30 points is a little bit low," said new Belmont coach Earl White, who landed with the Bison after a long and successful run at City League rival Thur-good Marshall.

"Hopefully, we won't be on the wrong end of it."

Many states already have implemented such a rule, although with differing point deficits. Ohio High School Athletic Association assistant commissioner and football administrator Beau Rugg said he drafted a proposal after researching other states' similar rules. The association's board of directors unanimously accepted it.

At least two Ohio games last season rekindled mismatch concern.

"Last year we had a couple instances around the state where teams were getting beat so bad they stopped; they left," Rugg said. "That's concerning to everybody."

Rugg said there was strong sentiment to curb instances of humiliation on the field. That can lead to unsportsmanlike behavior. In Kentucky, the post-game handshake between teams has been stopped because of fighting. There also was an inherent injury factor to consider when teams are mismatched.

That can be addressed - usually - when scheduling. What isn't preventable is powerful No. 1 seeds playing low-end No. 8 seeds in the first round of the playoffs. Rugg said several unavoidable postseason mismatches last season also were a concern.

The new running clock rule will be implemented for grades 7-12 at all levels. If the deficit is cut to less than 30 points, the game reverts back to regular clock stoppage.

Time will always stop for an official's timeout, an injury, exchange of possession, a charged timeout, the end of a period or score and any unusual delay as determined by referees.

The new rule is good for the regular season and playoffs.

Belmont was outscored 475-60 last season. The Bison likely wouldn't have recovered enough to win a game had this rule been in place in 2013. But a 69-0 setback to Sidney and a 61-0 drubbing to Riverview East also likely wouldn't have happened.

"A lot of that has to deal with how you schedule," White said. "You have to be smart scheduling. You have to know in advance where your team's at and schedule nonconference games that are feasible or winnable. Today's spread offense and the way people can throw the ball, I just thought (30 points) was a little bit low."

Point spreads have no bearing on playoff computer points, only wins and beaten opponents' wins.

Rugg said the OHSAA will collect data from games that have a running clock this season; specifically, how many plays were run in the second half compared - on average - to games that didn't use the new rule.

He said there was also a concern about the growing duration of games. Many leagues such as the Greater Western Ohio Conference and Southwestern Buckeye League have moved their start times to 7 p.m.

"The people that this will affect in those kinds of games will be enormously happy," Rugg said "A lot of people who may have concerns now, it won't affect them because they're in competitive games."

Contact this reporter at 937-225-2381 or email Marc.Pen Twitter: @MarcPendleton


August 10, 2014


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