SUGARLAND, Texas -- As Texas high school football teams begin their season tonight new rules are in place that change how and when they can hit.
Texas high school players can now be penalized and removed from a game and in some cases a portion of the next game as well, for using the crown of their helmet or their forearm to hit the neck and head area of a defenseless player. The targeting rule follows NCAA guidelines.
But even before they hit the playing field, high school players saw rule changes on when and how often they can hit each other, legally, on the practice field.
In the old days you put your gear on and you just got after it from the get go, said Dulles High School head football coach Jim Creech who has been at Dulles in Sugar Land for 32 years.
But he agrees with a 2013 rule change that says Texas high school players are limited to 90 minutes of full contact practice in a given week. Creech said it s a good rule but it s also something he was already doing.
You don t ever want to lose a player at any time but boy, you don t want to lose one in practice, Creech said.
Also this year teams are required to fully inspect each player s helmet at least once every week to make sure they are not damaged and are in full compliance with safety regulations. The coaches and players each sign a weekly form that indicates they participated in that inspection.
When it comes to equipment, personally I think that would probably be one of the most important ones, Creech said. As football coaches, we all understand that our most important fete is to get those kids to that very first game healthy.
The Vikings, who made it to the second round of the playoffs last season, kick off their 2013 campaign Friday night against Alief Hastings.
There s a reason why we re doing this stuff. And if we re going to do it then it must be important, which it is, and so we re going to do it right, Creech said.