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Prep Sports Report

Bob Putnam, Rodney Page, Kelly Parsons

FHSAA set to reduce live contact for high school football

Central High School tackle Lyndell Hudson, right, blocks a teammate during spring football practice in May.


Central High School tackle Lyndell Hudson, right, blocks a teammate during spring football practice in May.

As concern about concussions mount, Florida is set to enact its first restrictions on full-contact practices for the state's high school football players.

The Florida High School Athletic Association plans to limit live contact - drills where teammates tackle each other to the ground - to 80 minutes per week during the season. Live contact could take place three days a week for no more than 30 minutes each day.

During the preseason, live contact will be limited to 40 minutes per day. There are no restrictions to the amount of limited contact drills that involve bags or pads or end without a hit to the ground.

The FHSAA, the state's governing body for high school sports, discussed the idea with coaches, trainers and administrators across the state and received little blowback.

"We feel like this is a really good fit for our state," FHSAA athletic director Frank Beasley said.

Most coaches already operate within the guidelines to keep players fresh, Beasley said.

Pasco High coach Tom McHugh said the policy change works within most coaches' practices. He has restricted his full-contact practices over the years to reduce injuries.

"There's no sense hurting each other," said McHugh, a two-time state semifinalist. "It's bad enough on Friday when you go for 48 minutes and the object is to knock the other guy's brains out."

The FHSAA worked with the advocacy group Practice Like Pros to come up with its guidelines. Forty-five other states previously adopted stricter full-contact policies since the group began working in 2013.

"Imagine how much misery has been spared for the 42,000 boys who play high school football in Florida," said Practice Like Pros founder Terry O'Neil.

The FHSAA's board of directors will formally hear the policy at next week's meeting in Gainesville.

[Last modified: Monday, June 6, 2016 2:02pm]


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