Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 10, 2014

Changes on the way

UIL implementing 40-second play clock during games this season

Athens — Every year, the University Interscholastic League implements new rules for coaches and officials to prepare for during the upcoming year.

A rule that will affect football teams is the implementation of the 40-second play clock in addition to the 25-second play clock.

The new rule puts high school football in Texas up to date with NCAA standards, which made the switch from the 25-second clock to the 40-second version in 2008.

UIL athletic director Mark Cousins said the change won’t mandate that schools purchase new play clocks — or play clocks at all for that matter – merely allowing those interested to use the up-to-date guidelines.

“I really don’t see it being a problem and when it first came out I was concerned about it,” Athens head coach Paul Essary said. “I talked with some officials and they told me that you can still go to the 25-second clock in the last two minutes of the half and in certain situations.”

Beginning this fall, the play clock will begin counting down from 40 seconds once the previous play has been called dead, taking away the inconsistent time it once took officials to spot the ball and signal to begin the 25-second clock.

Essary said the new rule will only affect games where the scoring gets out of hand.

“The only thing that it is going to hurt is those games that get out of hand,” Essary said. “If somebody is beating somebody quite a bit by halftime or going into the fourth quarter the officials will have to agree about not setting the clock.”

Eustace coach Heath Ragle said when the scoring would get out of hand, the officials would slow the pace down for spotting the ball.

“Most crews when the scoring got out of hand they will slow down to spot the ball,” Ragle said. “This will now take that out of their hands and you will see teams that this rule will be hard to stop them and they have to snap the ball.”

Ragle said with the run oriented offense that the Bulldogs play, he does not think the rule benefits them.

“I don’t think it helps what we do offensively,” Ragle said. “I think it is more of a rule for the fans and up tempo teams to speed up the game and to put more points on the scoreboard.”

Ragle said Eustace will practice with the new play clock when they face Quitman in their final scrimmage on August 21.

“We will practice with the clock in our second scrimmage so the kids can get used to the officials spotting the ball,” Ragle said. “It will be a little bit of an adjustment but I think everyone will get used to it.”

Essary said he was concerned at first about the rule, but once he talked with officials he is more comfortable.

“I felt more comfortable and I don’t think it will have a factor in our game,” Essary said. “Especially with the way that we play football nowadays. We play a lot of hurry up offense and snap it with seconds on the clock anyways.”

During last month’s Heart of a Champion Bowl, the 40-second clock was used.

Essary said he made sure to watch how the clock would play a factor in the games.

“I don’t think it will really affect anybody and at the Heart of a Champion Bowl they used that clock,” Essary said. “I paid close attention to it and it does not make you hurry anymore than normal. It mainly just keeps the officials in a routine.”

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