High school football teams in New York will be allowed to play an additional game following unanimous approval Wednesday by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s Executive Committee at its quarterly meeting.
The additional game would come at the expense of the interscholastic scrimmage that teams traditionally play the week before the regular season. The additional non-league game would not be mandatory, and teams could opt to scrimmage instead.
Each section of the NYSPHSAA’s 11-section membership will determine if they want to go forward with an extended schedule. Section II is expected to approve it, and in past weeks began piecing together a tentative schedule of games for Sept. 4-5.
“You can play a game in what we’re calling, for scheduling purposes, our zero block week, or do what you did in the past with a scrimmage,” Section II football chairman Bob Dorrance said. “ Now there will be the option of playing an interclass game or a rivalry game, and it will have no bearing on your league record.”
State football chairman and Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk head coach Gary VanDerzee formally introduced the proposal to add an additional non-league contest at the NYSPHSAA ‘s Executive Committee meeting in February. The state football committee approved the proposal in December.
“Some teams might be ready to play [a game]. Some might choose to scrimmage,” said Shenendehowa coach and former Johnstown quarterback Brian Clawson. “There are pluses and minuses, and I can see both.”
Clawson said teams may go one way this year, and opt to go another way in 2021.
“Each team will have to visit it and see how it works for them, and there might be a change with that program the following year,” Clawson said.
NYSPHSAA teams must have 10 practices before they are allowed to scrimmage against another team or play another team in an actual game. The fall sports season is scheduled to begin Aug. 24.
“If you didn’t think you’d be ready, you wouldn’t have to schedule it,” VanDerzee said. “It would be an option.”
In past years, most teams in NYSPHSAA sections that participated in the state tournament played seven- or eight-game regular seasons. The change means most teams reaching the NYSPHSAA championship games in Syracuse would play a total of 14 games, moving closer to what a number of other states allow.
The state football committee’s rationale behind the extra-game proposal include:
- It will create more playing opportunities across the state for the student-athletes with minimal change.
- In conjunction with the later starting date, it will allow schools to complete their regular season before weather becomes an issue.
- It will allow schools/sections to schedule an eight-game regular season (instead of seven) and still conduct three rounds of playoffs. This helps address the concern from some that schedules are playoff driven with little concern for non-playoff teams.
- Gives schedulers/schools more flexibility in scheduling traditional rivalries.
- It could give programs more flexibility in scheduling alternative games to satisfy competitive balance (safety).
- Minimal expansion/impact on the total number of games played.
Dorrance said the tentative schedule of non-league games for the zero block week includes rivalry matchups between Mechanicville and Stillwater, and Gloversville and Johnstown.
“I think teams will use those games in different ways, depending on what they want to get out of them,” Dorrance said.
Clawson said his defending Section II Class AA champion Plainsmen currently have a scrimmage scheduled for Sept. 4 at Monroe-Woodbury, where John Jay and Cornwall will also participate.
“Way back, when week zero became a topic of discussion, we didn’t know if it would pass or not,” Clawson said. “We wanted to make sure we had something in place.”
Championship sites were approved by the NYSPHSAA’s Executive Committee for the sports of boys’ soccer (Middletown High School, 2021-23), gymnastics (Kenmore High School, 2022-24) and boys’ and girls’ bowling (AMF Strike ‘N Spare Lanes-Syracuse, 2012-23).
As a result of the cancellation of numerous state championships due to COVID-19, a one-year extension was approved to grant the Cool Insuring Arena (boys’ basketball) and Hudson Valley Community College (girls’ basketball) to host NYSPHSAA winter state championships through 2023. A one-year extension also was approved to additionally grant Binghamton (baseball through 2022), Mark Twain Golf Course (boys’ golf through 2023), SUNY Cortland (girls’ lacrosse through 2023), Hofstra University (boys’ lacrosse through 2023), Moriches Athletic Complex (softball through 2023) and Cicero North Syracuse High School (outdoor track & field moved to 2024) to host NYSPHSAA spring state championships.
The committee also approved advancing the regional rotations from 2020 to 2021 for the sports of boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, softball, boys’ lacrosse and girls’ lacrosse.