In a move to help high school football players around the state get acclimated to the heat before full-contact practice begins, the TSSAA Board of Control has approved a recommendation to move up the date of the first day football teams can practice in helmets and shoulder pads by one week.
All teams must now practice at least three days in helmets and shoulder pads beginning July 22 before they can begin practicing in full pads July 29.
"I think it's a good idea," Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "They're going the right way to get the kids acclimated to the heat by having everyone put on the helmets and shoulder pads for a few days before turning everybody loose.
"For the players' safety, it's a good idea."
The change will mean that prep football teams that open with Week Zero games, Aug. 23, will have six weeks of practice in pads before kicking off the season.
"The season is already starting a week later than it has in the last couple of years, but I believe allowing players an extra week to get used to practicing in the heat will help everyone," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said.
Another discussion during the board meeting was to move the Division II state championship games up one week. Currently, state championship weekend starts on Thursday with the Division II-A and II-AA championship games in Cookeville.
Because there's one fewer round in their playoffs, D-II teams that win their semifinal games the Friday before Thanksgiving have a week off before playing their finals. The board will discuss that issue further before voting.
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.