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Exploring High School Football: Rules, Rivalries, and Recruiting

Adil Husnain



High school football is famous for “Friday Night Lights” both in movies and books, as well as real-life games that happen every fall across the country. In small towns, these football games are especially popular. This is very true in Texas, where the last game of the 6A high school football playoffs in 2019 had a big crowd of 47,818 people. Lots of high school students play football, and it’s where most college football players start before moving up.


Every year, over a million high school students play football for around 15,810 teams. Among boys, it’s the most popular high school sport.


  • Track & Field is a popular sport with 605,354 athletes.
  • Basketball has 540,769 players, 
  • baseball is played by 482,740 students. 
  • Soccer is enjoyed by 459,077 players.


Among girls, track and field is the most popular sport, with 488,267 participants. Interestingly, there are also 2,604 girls who play high school football.


High school football rankings


Lots of high school football players and fans like to see which teams are considered the best in their state and across the country. One place they often check is MaxPreps, a source that ranks nearly all high school football teams. At the end of the 2019 season, St. John Bosco from Bellflower, California, was at the top of those rankings. On the other hand, the Marist RedHawks from Chicago finished the season ranked 395th in the nation and 14th in the state of Illinois.


But, if you’re interested in rankings just within your state, there are other places to look. In Illinois, a well-respected source is the AP’s top-10 rankings for each group.


High school football schedules


If you’re curious about high school football schedules, a helpful spot to check is MaxPreps. There, you can easily find the upcoming games for one school or even more. The football season for schools usually kicks off around Labor Day and stretches through November. In a few states, the championship showdown might even extend into December.


As the season unfolds, teams follow a familiar pattern. They start with games that don’t count in the official league standings. These matches help them warm up and get into the groove. Afterward, they dive into conference matches, where they face off against other schools in their area. These conference games can be quite exciting, as they determine who’s the strongest within the region.



The culmination of the high school football season is the playoffs. This is when the top teams compete for the championship title. The playoffs can be intense, with each game carrying a lot of weight. Teams fight hard to advance, and the excitement builds as the competition narrows down. So, from the early kickoff in September to the decisive playoff battles, high school football offers a thrilling journey for players and fans alike.


High school football scores, news and stats


When it comes to checking high school football scores, there are a couple of dependable sources. MaxPreps and ScoreStream are both good options for finding out how the games went. Sometimes, you can also get quick updates on local scores from Twitter accounts like the one managed by the Reno Gazette-Journal in Nevada. If you’re interested in more detailed information, local newspapers are a great place to look. They often provide stats and news about high school football that you might find interesting.


Moreover, MaxPreps offers national rankings for high school football stats, which covers various aspects of the game. These rankings give you insights into how players are performing across the country. You can find rankings for passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, points, touchdowns, tackles, sacks, and interceptions – all important aspects of high school football.


In a nutshell, whether you’re curious about the scores, stats, or overall performance of high school football players, there are several helpful resources available. So, whether you’re a dedicated fan or just getting into the sport, you can easily stay up-to-date with the latest information and enjoy the excitement of high school football.


High school football classifications

High school football is divided into groups known as classifications, which can have different names depending on the state. Generally, larger schools are grouped together, followed by medium-sized schools, and the smallest schools form their own group. For instance, in Illinois, there are eight classifications, and each has its own championship game.


To illustrate, consider Illinois:


  • Class 8A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 7A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 6A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 5A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 4A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 3A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 2A High School Football Playoff Bracket
  • Class 1A High School Football Playoff Bracket


The way the playoffs function can vary based on the classification and the state’s rules. However, they all share a common feature: a single-elimination format, similar to a tournament. These playoffs can extend for about six weeks, with some initial rounds taking place at schools and later rounds occurring at neutral sites.



high school football playoffs provide teams with a chance to compete, and it’s truly thrilling to witness who emerges as the victor in each classification.


High school football rules


The number of high school football teams often depends on how big the school is. Smaller schools might only have varsity football teams. Bigger schools usually have junior varsity teams too. These teams are usually made up of the best players who are still working on getting even better for varsity football. Seniors don’t usually play on junior varsity.


Sophomore football teams usually have sophomores and freshmen playing. Freshman football teams are just for freshmen. The really big schools with lots of players who want to play football will have varsity, junior varsity, sophomore, and freshman football teams.


In summary, the size of the school decides how many football teams there are, ranging from varsity to junior varsity, sophomore, and freshman, to give players the right level to play and develop their skills.


The rules for football can be a bit different between high school, college, and the NFL. In high school, if a kickoff reaches the end zone, players can’t return it. When the ball goes out of bounds, the clock still stops. Similar to college, the clock stops after a first down until the chains are set. Unlike the pros, in both college and high school, a catch is valid with just one foot inbounds.


Another difference is in pass interference. In high school, it’s not an automatic first down. Instead, it leads to a 15-yard penalty. So, if a team is facing a 3rd-and-20 situation and pass interference occurs, it becomes 3rd-and-5.


These variations in rules add to the uniqueness of each level of play and keep the game exciting for players and fans.



Football positions


Choosing the right football position involves considering various factors. A high school quarterback typically needs strength, speed, and quick thinking. Quick thinking is especially vital, as reading the defence swiftly, adjusting after the snap, and making decisions are key for team success and catching the attention of college football recruiters.


For those who are big and strong, the offensive or defensive lines might be the best fit. Tight ends, on the other hand, should have a mix of skills, including catching ability and mobility. Reading offences well is crucial for becoming a reliable linebacker. Running backs need skills in running and breaking through tackles. Similar skills, combined with strong blocking, can make you a good fullback.


Don’t forget the significance of the high school kicker. A dependable kicker can be incredibly valuable to high school football coaches, as skilled kickers can be harder to find at this level compared to college and professional football.


In summary, finding the ideal football position requires evaluating your strengths and skills, and matching them with the demands of each role. This decision plays a big part in your contribution to the team’s success and your potential in the football world.


High school football recruiting Details


If you dream of playing college football, it’s important to start working towards that goal during your high school years. In fact, the initial steps in the high school football recruiting process should ideally begin when you’re a freshman. If that time has already passed, don’t worry – you can start now. While there are rules regulating when and how college coaches can reach out to you, you have more flexibility to initiate contact, especially during your freshman year. Having a recruiting video showcasing your skills is also valuable for them to observe you in action.


As you travel down the path of becoming one of the nation’s football recruits, it’s also crucial to focus on finding the best fit for yourself. It’s not just about the team’s performance; you should also consider how well you’ll transition from your high school football coaches to your college ones. It’s advantageous if they share a similar coaching style, but don’t hesitate to explore a new approach that could aid your growth as both a player and an individual.



Additionally, paying attention to football recruiting guidelines is important. For instance, the typical FBS quarterback is around 6-2 tall, weighs about 207 pounds, and often excels as an all-state player for multiple years. Keep in mind that these are general trends – the significance of being all-state may vary from one state to another. Equally important is your academic performance. The NCAA has minimum academic criteria that you must meet, and schools may have even higher standards.


To sum up, aspiring to play college football requires proactive efforts starting from high school. Focus on finding the right fit for your development, take football recruiting guidelines into account, and maintain strong academic performance. Your dedication and preparation will significantly impact your journey toward playing college football.

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