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IHSAA football official 6-year veteran Brian Cravens during the Columbus North/Perry Meridian game Friday evening at Perry Stadium.
Tommy Walker|For The Republic
IHSAA football official 6-year veteran Brian Cravens during the Columbus North/Perry Meridian game Friday evening at Perry Stadium. Tommy Walker|For The Republic


DURING Edinburgh’s 45-8 loss at Indianapolis Lutheran in 2010, the Lancers kept hoping for a big kickoff return to give the team a spark.

The Saints, however, kept kicking the ball in the end zone, and under high school rules, that’s an automatic touchback.

By and large, area high school football coaches are fine with the overwhelming majority of rules in their game, but the touchback rule is one of several that at least one would like to see changed.

“When the ball goes into the end zone, you should be able to run it out, which would be more exciting,” Edinburgh coach Bill Unsworth said.

Unsworth, who has spent 42 years coaching at the high school and collegiate levels, favors the college rules concerning pass interference and neutral zone infractions. He thinks pass interference should be a spot foul.

“You have a guy that’s about 40 yards down field, and he gets interfered with, you get 15 yards,” Unsworth said. “It’s an advantage to the defense. Being an offensive guy, I don’t like that.”

Unsworth also thinks defensive players who jump into the neutral zone should have a chance to get back on their side of the line of scrimmage     before the ball is snapped without being called for a penalty.

“I was coaching high school when they made that change, and they said it was for the safety factor,” Unsworth said. “You don’t really see that factor in the NFL. I think it slows the game down (in high school).”

Columbus East coach Bob Gaddis also likes a couple of college rules better. One concerns the overtime scenario, where high schools start from the 10-yard line, as opposed to colleges, which begin from the 25.

“I’m not particularly a fan of the way we do overtime,” Gaddis said. “I really like the one where you put the ball back on the 25-yard line instead of the 10-yard line. I like overtime much better than the old days of a tie, but a 25-yard drive is a little bit more indicative of the strength of a team than a 10-yard drive.”

Anthony Levy, the coach at first-year program Trinity Lutheran, thinks penalties are sometimes called for helmet-to-helmet contact on running backs and receivers when it is accidental.

“With the new tackling techniques being taught, they teach you to hit with the head up, and the head is naturally going to migrate toward the helmet,” Levy said. “Then, the running back or the receiver moves, and you hit them in the head. If you hit quarterbacks in the head, and it’s a stationary target, that should be a penalty.”

Columbus North coach Tim Bless sometimes wanders on to the field to give plays to his quarterback. Some officials are more lenient with the coaches’ box restriction than others.

“I’m fully aware that it’s all about safety of the player, coach and officials’ safety, but I think at times, officials go overboard in worrying about what’s happening outside the white lines as opposed to what’s happening inside the white lines,” Bless said. “Some crews are hyper-sensitive about it, and some crews have some common sense and know that (coaches) are making (play) calls, they’re going to step back, they’re going to be out of the way.

“I find it a little bit ironic because you think about the game of basketball, which is on a small court, and you look at basketball coaches who do a lot of their coaching on the court,” he said. “They’re a whole lot closer to human traffic in tighter confines than a football coach who’s on a field that’s 100 yards long and 53-1/3 wide and nowhere near the action.”

Still, Bless doesn’t overly concern himself with what officials are doing.

“Officials do the best they can,” Bless said. “Some calls are subjective, not objective, and really, you have to live with it and you have to move on. The next snap is the most important snap, so any coach that’s overly dwelling on how a game is being called really doesn’t have a very good focus on the task at hand.”

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