High school football is most known for “Friday Night Lights,” both the movie and book versions and the real-life games that take place across the country every week in the fall. In small communities, these football games tend to be especially widely supported. This is particularly true in Texas, where the final game of the 6A high school football playoffs in 2019 drew an impressive crowd of 47,818. High school football teams are also where nearly all college football recruits play before moving up to the next level.
More than a million high school football players play for 15,810 high school football teams every year. For boys, it’s easily the most popular high school sport:
No girls sport exceeds half a million participants, with 488,267 girls taking part in track and field. Additionally, 2,604 girls are high school football players.
Many high school football players and fans regularly look at which teams are ranked highly within their states and nationally. One high school football rankings source that many use is MaxPrep’s, which ranks almost all high school football teams. At the end of the 2019 season, St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.) topped that set of rankings. Meanwhile, for example, Chicago’s Marist RedHawks finished their campaign ranked 395th nationally and 14th within the state of Illinois. However, if you’re looking for in-state rankings, you should also consider other sources. The most respected ones in Illinois are the AP’s top-10 rankings for each classification.
MaxPreps is a good resource for looking up the high school football schedule for one or more schools. Most schools will start their high school football schedule around Labor Day. They’ll generally end in November although the high school football championship game in some states will take place in December. Generally, teams will open with some non-league games before entering conference play and then concluding with participation in the high school football playoffs.
As far as looking up high school football scores go, MaxPreps is a solid resource for that too. So is ScoreStream. Oftentimes, Twitter accounts such as the one run by the Nevada’s Reno Gazette-Journal provides local scores in a timely manner. Local newspapers are also good sources for high school football stats and news. Meanwhile, MaxPreps provides high school football stats rankings on a national level. Included are high school football player rankings for passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, points, touchdowns, tackles, sacks and interceptions.
Although the exact terms will vary from state to state, high school football is broken down into a number of classifications. Generally, the biggest schools are grouped together in one classification, the next biggest schools are grouped in the next classification and so on with the smallest schools making up the final classification. For example, Illinois’ high school football teams are disseminated into eight classifications with a high school football championship game being contested in each.
The format for the high school football playoffs varies from classification to classification and more so, from state to state. However, one thing that all high school football playoffs have in common is that they consist of single-elimination brackets. The length of the high school football playoffs depends, but it can last as long as six weeks. Although early rounds can be held at one of the participating schools, later rounds of the high school football playoffs are increasingly held at neutral sites.
The size of the school will generally dictate how many high school football teams it will sponsor. The smallest ones will only offer varsity football squads. Larger ones will sponsor junior varsity teams as well. These squads are generally comprised of the school’s best players who still need to improve some to make the move to varsity football. Seniors are rarely on junior varsity rosters. Sophomore football rosters are generally comprised of sophomores and freshman while freshman football teams are played by freshmen. The largest schools with the most player interest will offer varsity football, junior varsity football, sophomore football and freshman football.
One of the greatest aspects of this sport is seeing high school football rivals play after a year of buildup to the game. These rivalries can consist of schools in neighboring towns, teams that divide a city or even schools that are hundreds of miles apart but who battle for state championships on a nearly annual basis. As a result, they can be based on geography as well as competitiveness.
In fact, one of the myths is that one-sided rivalries are not actually rivalries. However, in many cases, the tension is just as high, oftentimes even higher, in those types of situations. The team that’s lost so often is desperate to get a win over its rival while the school that’s had the upper hand is desperate to keep it.
According to MaxPreps, these are the three greatest high school football rivalries:
The rules vary some from high school football to college football and the NFL. High school players cannot return kickoffs that reach the end zone. The clock remains stopped when a play goes out of bounds. High school rules are similar to college in that the clock stops on first down plays until the chains are reset. Just one foot down inbounds is necessary for a catch to be valid; that’s the same rules as used in college but not in the pros. Pass interference does not result in an automatic first down in high school; it’s a 15-yard penalty, so 3rd-and-20 preceding it would result in 3rd-and-5.
Several factors go into what results in a team winning a state championship. Most importantly, it needs to have an enviable blend of talent, work ethic and unity. One without the others will often result in a solid season but not an elite one. However, a team that has all of those will likely go a long way in the playoffs. Of course, luck is another important factor as it relates to things like how the ball bounces and a star quarterback getting injured. Those other factors will mitigate but not eliminate luck’s influence.
Several factors go into determining what the best position to play is. A high school quarterback will generally be strong, fast and mentally quick. The latter is especially important for a high school quarterback as being able to quickly read and assess what the defense is showing you and then adjust once the ball is snapped is essential to team success and being involved with college football recruiting.
Those who are big and strong are often best suited for the offensive or defensive lines. Players who have many of those skills but can also move and catch are often tight ends. Being able to mentally read offenses will help you become a solid linebacker. Having the skills to run and push through tackles are necessary for a running back. The same skills combined with solid blocking ability may result in you being a fullback.
The role of the high school kicker is important too. A solid high school kicker often becomes invaluable to high school football coaches as high-skilled ones can be more difficult to find in high school than is the case in college and the pros.
If you aspire of playing college football, you should be making your move towards that throughout your time in high school. In fact, the first steps in the high school football recruiting process should be engaged in during your freshman year. If that’s already passed, start it now. Although there are rules that limit when and in which ways college coaches may contact you, you can contact them much more liberally, including during your freshman year. It also helps to have a recruiting video available for them to see you in action.
As you go along this path as one of the nation’s football recruits, make sure to also be working on finding the best fit for yourself. The quality of the team is not the only factor that you should consider. You need to ensure that the transition from your high school football coaches to your college football coaches is a positive one. Them having the same style is good, but also consider that a new style may be just what you need to further grow as a player and as a person.
It’s also important to consider some football recruiting guidelines. For example, the average FBS quarterback will have a height of 6-2 and weigh 207 pounds in addition to being a multi-year all-state player. Of course, these are generalities as, for example, being all-state in one state will have more significance than in another. It’s also important to ensure that you are succeeding in the classroom as well. The NCAA has minimum academic standards that must be met, and schools often have more stringent ones.
One resource that many high school football coaches recommend to those playing high school football and looking to get involved in football recruiting is NCSA. This organization has been helping athletes in a wide variety of sports find a fit that works best for them athletically, academically, socially and culturally since 2000. That’s when Chris Krause, a former Vanderbilt football player, founded it. He had struggled through his own recruiting experience in the 1980s and wanted to ensure that those who followed in his footsteps would be able to enjoy a firmer grip on it.
One of the more important things that NCSA does is objectively assess your overall package as it relates to high school football: physical skills, academic skills and otherwise. As a result, you’ll receive an assessment that allows you to best find that fit. It’s also important to note that even if you have dreams of playing for Alabama, your best overall fit might be elsewhere even if your football skills are solid enough to impress Crimson Tide recruiters.
Thanks to everything that NCSA has to offer those playing high school football and other sports, it’s received a number of positive reviews, including averaging 4.9 stars out of a maximum 5 on Google Reviews. The NCSA helping find the best fit for college coaches as well has resulted in 35,000 of them being in the NCSA network too. This is important as far as gaining exposure to them is concerned. Get your free profile started today.