Does watching high school football games fill you with joy? If so, you might be curious about their duration and how they differ from lower football tiers. Millions of people across the United States participate in and watch high school football each year. However, how long does a high school football game typically last, and what elements influence the length of a game? In this post, we’ll address these concerns and more by discussing the regulations and external factors that determine the length of high school football contests.
The basic rules of high school football game length
High school football games typically last 48 minutes, with each quarter lasting 12 minutes. In addition to the halftime break of ten minutes, there are intermissions of three minutes between the first and second quarters and the third and fourth. This means that there will be a total of 60 minutes of play time, with no time added for halftime or other such breaks.
High school football games typically last for four quarters, however there are exceptions and variances to this rule. Different states or areas may have varying regulations concerning the length of quarters, halftime, and breaks. If the score is tied at the end of regulation, there may be extra time played. When a game goes into overtime, each team typically gets one possession from a set yard line until either team scores or a winner is determined.
High school football games typically last for four quarters, however the running clock or mercy rule is an exception to this rule. When this regulation is in effect, the clock does not stop for any reason, including incomplete passes, going out of bounds, penalties, timeouts, etc. When one team has a significant lead over the other, typically 35 points or more, the running clock or mercy rule may be implemented. This regulation has been put in place for safety reasons, to cut down on delays, and as a mark of good sportsmanship.
How long are high school football games in comparison to those at the collegiate and professional levels? Quarters in college football games are 12 minutes long, and halftime is 10 minutes long, same like in high school games. However, there are 5 minute intermissions between quarters, and overtime is 15 minutes long. There are also more interruptions and delays in college football games because of television timeouts, reviews, challenges, etc. Pro Bowl games have 15-minute quarters, 12-minute halves, 2-minute rests between halves, and 10-minute overtime periods, all of which are longer than high school and college football games. Television timeouts, reviews, challenges, etc., also add extra downtime to NFL games.
The factors that influence the length of high school football game
High school football games typically go for 60 minutes, with 48 minutes of actual action. Not all high school football games are 48 or 60 minutes long, though. The clock’s stopping and starting during a high school football game is just one of several variables that can greatly affect the game’s length.
The pace of play is a major element in determining how long a high school football game lasts. If a play ends with an incomplete pass, out-of-bounds run, penalty flag, timeout call, possession change, or the conclusion of the quarter or half, the clock will not start again until the start of the next play. However, if a throw is completed, a runner stays in bounds, a kickoff is returned, or no penalties or timeouts are called, the clock keeps ticking until the start of the next play.
The regularity with which such plays occur also has an impact on the length of a high school football game. If a team favours passing over running, for instance, there will be more opportunities for incomplete passes and out-of-bounds runs, both of which will cause timeouts. In contrast, if a team opts to pass less and run more, it will have more opportunities to complete passes and run in-bounds, both of which help to keep the time ticking. The clock will be affected similarly if one side scores more points than the other, or if one team uses more timeouts or penalties than the other.
Is there much leeway in how long a high school football game may go because of these factors? A high school football game can stretch anywhere from 90 minutes to four hours, as evidenced by many studies and real-world instances from various contexts and regions. Here’s an example:
- At Plano Senior High School jumped out to a 42-0 lead over Eastwood High School in the first quarter of their Texas high school football game in 2019, the game was called at 90 minutes owing to the running clock rule.
- The clock was stopped frequently in the 2018 California high school football game between Mission
- Viejo High School and Orange Lutheran High School owing to many scoring drives, penalties, timeouts, and injuries, which caused the game to run nearly 4 hours.
- In 2017, an Ohio high school football game between St. Ignatius and St. Edward High School required seven overtime periods to choose a victor, extending the game’s total time to three hours and forty-five minutes.
In sum, we now have a better understanding of how long a high school football game typically lasts and the variables that can impact that time. As we’ve seen, a high school football game typically consists of 48 minutes of play time and 60 minutes of total time, but there are various variants on this regulation, such as overtime, a running clock, or a mercy rule. We also saw that the time of a high school football game can vary greatly based on the number and variety of plays that cause the clock to be stopped or started.
Everyone who has any interest in high school football, from fans to players to coaches to officials, would benefit from knowing how long a game typically lasts and what factors contribute to that duration. It can aid in time management, strategy development, experience appreciation, and appreciation of work.
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