Time to note some high school football as we head down the stretch for the the postseason:

Football is alive and well!

That’s what a participation survey released this fall revealed, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).
I would have never had any doubt. How ‘bout you?

Football is big, and it continues to grow and grow.

Friday Night Lights. Quite a tradition, for sure!

The numbers also paint a pretty clear picture. Especially the number 14,247.

Even though the NFHS survey showed that there were 30,829 fewer participants than the previous season for high schools, the most important number of 14,247 was overlooked.

That’s the number of high schools with 11-player football teams. 

While there was a slight decline in the number of participants in many states, the number of schools sponsoring the sport was the highest in five years.
So there! Whoo-Hoo! Score it!

In fact, the number of schools last year with 11-player teams has only been topped twice in the survey’s history – 14,262 in 2013-14 and 14,279 in 2010-11.

In addition, smaller schools in some states have shifted to 6-player, 8-player and 9-player football and reportedly have had good responses. And participation by girls in 11-player football has doubled, with more than 2,400 participants this past year.

The survey indicates an additional 156 schools and 1,594 participants involved in these alternate forms of the sport. And participation by girls in 11-player football has doubled in the past 10 years, with more than 2,400 participants in 2019.

And finally, with concussion protocols and laws in place in every state, with a reduction in contact levels before the season and during practices, and with teaching of proper tackling skills at lower levels, the NFHS believes that observers, including parents of high school athletes, are seeing and believing that the sport of football at the high school level is as safe as it ever has been. 

Hey, that’s another good thing, really an especially good thing!


REMINDER: FOOTBALL PAIRINGS SHOW ON TAP

The 47th Annual State Tournament Pairings show will air on Sunday at 5 p.m. 

It will be streamed exclusively on IHSAAtv.org.

Sectionals kick off Oct. 25 and Nov. 1, 8 (5A-1A) and Nov. 1 & 8 for Class 6A schools.

Sectional tickets (per person) soon will go on sale.

Sectional tickets are priced at $6; regional tickets are $8; semistate tickets will cost you $10; and state finals admission at Lucas Oil Stadium is $15.

What a deal, huh? Of course, as most know, all tickets are $5 per person for regular-season varsity games. Tournament play simply commands more $$.

Remember, there are only two more weeks remaining in the regular season, and then postseason kicks in.

Time for all teams and players to gear up for the big 2019 show, where season records mean nothing. It’s a brand new ballgame for IHSAA schools come tourney time.


FRIDAY: BIG GAME FOR HUSKIES 

Class 3A Hamilton Heights (2-5) will entertain Class 2A No. 1 Lewis Cass (6-1) this week on Senior Night for the Huskies. Great night for an upset, huh? Well, the juices should be flowing among the Huskies

Cass is unbeaten in its division of the Hoosier Conference, as is West Lafayette in the other. 

Week 9, the final week of the regular season, also serves as Hoosier Conference Playoff Week for the conference schools.

The Huskies will play a 7 p.m. road game (TBA) on Oct. 18. 


STATS: COUNTY NOTABLES

*—Seniors Andrew Hobson (Hamilton SE) and Camden Simons (Westfield) rank 1-2 in Hamilton County in passing yardages and touchdown passes.
Hobson has passed for 1,485 yards and 11 TDs; Simons has accounted for 1,197 yards and 10 TD.

*—Injured junior Sheridan running back Cameron Hovey has rushed for 1,225 yards and 17 TDs. He was averaging 204.2 per game rushing yards before suffering a collar bone injury in Game No. 6. He still ranks among the state leaders in rushing and scoring (123 points, includes 17 PATs, two 2-pt. conversions). 

*—HSE senior Deandre Rhodes leads the way with 655 reception yards. He has 38 receptions, five going for TDs . . . Hamilton Heights senior Camron Knott has caught 24 passes for 476 yards and 6 TDs.

*—Carmel junior middle linebacker Dominic Padjen is tops in the county with 77 tackles (11.0 per game). He also averages 6.0 TFL and 3.0 sacks. 

*—HSE sophomore Alex Geroulis has accounted for 34 points (6 field goals, 16 extra-point kicks; Fishers senior Jack Phillips has 5 FGs, 15 PATs) . . . . Phillips also averages 39.2 yards on 22 punts, and Carmel junior John David Rodgers is averaging 39.2 on 26 punts.

*—Westfield junior John Sullivan has kicked 19 extra points in 20 attempts.

*—Several players each have three interceptions: Carmel senior Sam Saliba; Fishers senior Collin Shelton; HSE seniors Michael Cherry & Clayton Toner; Noblesville senior Aidan Richardson; and Westfield sophomore Micah Hauser.

*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.