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High School American Football Games – Ultimate Guide

In the United States, people take American football very seriously. A poll conducted by Statista found that 37 percent of individuals named football as their preferred sport. This makes football the most popular sport in the country.

High School American Football Games - Ultimate Guide

This is such a popular sport that people will follow competitions with players of all ages, from under-14s games up to college and NFL matches. 

After college football and the professional leagues, the next level of football competition is high school football, which is also referred to as prep football.

If you’re not from the USA and have never experienced the epic highs and lows of high school football, then you probably have many questions about this version of the game. 

In this article, we’re going to cover everything that you should know about high school football, from how long they last to when the peak season starts and much more. 

High School Football – What Is It?

Gridiron football, more commonly known as high school football, is a version of the sport that is played by high school teams in North America as well as Canada.

Both the United States and Canada can claim that it is one of their most popular high school sports. It’s also common among high school teams from the United States that compete internationally.

In the latter part of the 19th century, when many college football teams were just being started, high school football also had its start.

During this time, many of the traditions around high school football were created such as having marching bands, mascots, pep rallies, and hosting homecoming games. 

Many of these traditions that are now associated with high school football were in these early days borrowed from the college football teams that many high school teams would often play against. 

In American football, there is no equivalent of a true minor league organization.

As a result, American high school football is typically regarded as the third level of competition in the sport in the United States, following the levels of play at the professional and collegiate levels. 

High school football is the initial level of competition in which a player will build up statistics, which will decide his chances of competing at the college level and, if he is talented enough, at the professional level.

High School Football Players 

To play high school football, you have to be, well obviously, in high school. In terms of demographics for these teams, the majority of high school football players in the United States are male.

In all high school games from the last 10 years, the percentage of female players has never exceeded 0.5 percent. 

The non-contact option of flag football is sanctioned in high schools in eight states, however, tackle football for girls is not sanctioned in any state. 

When Does The High School Football Season Start And End?

While the first game of the high school football season doesn’t start until the beginning of September in the majority of states, it kicks off in Alaska, Alabama, Hawaii, California, Indiana, Tennessee, Michigan, Montana, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah, and Minnesota on the last Friday of August.

There are high school football games played in September and October in many states, including Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, Arkansas, and Delaware.

October is traditionally the month that hosts the final regular-season game of the high school football season, known as the Homecoming game. 

The majority of states follow the standard format of having ten games throughout the regular season.

The first game of the season often takes place in the early part of September, and the last game of the regular season typically takes place in the middle of November. 

Even for games played during the regular season, larger schools, particularly those with successful athletic programs, can attract crowds numbering in the thousands.

As a result, larger schools sometimes choose to play their games at college or professional stadiums to accommodate the large crowds that are anticipated.

The vast majority of high school football games are played on Friday evenings. Games on Thursday evenings and Saturdays are scheduled somewhat less frequently.

In bigger school districts, where the facilities are shared by numerous schools or where the playing field is not illuminated for nighttime use, it is most common for schools to play on alternate days.

How Do Players Train And Practise?

Weightlifting and other conditioning exercises, such as specific speed and agility training, are typically where athletes start their preparations for the upcoming season.

This training begins in some places just a few weeks after the end of the previous season, while in others it doesn’t start until as late as August. 

While seven-on-seven scrimmages are legal in some areas, formal practices are outlawed in others during most of the summer months.

Double sessions typically begin around the middle of August, and they usually continue for one week or until school begins, whichever comes first.

After the double sessions are finished, the regular season practices begin, and every weekday afternoon, except game days, there are daily sessions.

In addition, workouts take place frequently on Saturdays, although they hardly ever take place on Sundays.

How Long Does A Highschool Football Game Usually Last?

A football game played at the high school level technically lasts for a total of 48 minutes and is divided into four quarters that each last 12 minutes.

This is different from the standard version of the game (such as what the NFL plays) as here each quarter typically lasts 15 minutes rather than the high school’s 12. 

However, anyone who’s watched an American high school football game live knows that this time isn’t exactly accurate. 

The duration of games played at the high school level of football is normally between two and two and a half hours. The play time of the game can be increased by penalties, timeouts, and the half an hour half time break. 

The most well-known high school football game is the Homecoming game, but this is really no different from any other game played in the year and follows the same timings as a regular game as well. 

In High School Football, How Many Quarters Are Played?

High School American Football Games - Ultimate Guide

In a high school football game, there are four quarters. The majority of states use a time limit of 12 minutes for each high school football quarter as the standard.

This indicates that there will be a total of 48 minutes played throughout the four quarters. 

These timings are not universal though, as, during the regular season in Massachusetts for example, each quarter lasts 11 minutes, but during the playoffs, it only lasts 10 minutes

After the completion of the second quarter, high school football games often include a halftime period that lasts for twelve minutes. The action of the game takes place in real-time and lasts about two hours and thirty minutes.

What Factors Influence The Total Playing Time Of A Football Game?

The length of a football game is largely dependent on several factors, the most important of which are:

  • Penalties 
  • Timeouts
  • Playing Style
  • The flow of the Game
  • Adverse Weather
  • Injuries

Is American Football Dangerous?

Despite the heavy padding and helmet that players wear every game, American football is still a pretty dangerous game, even at the high school level. 

According to the findings of research that was funded by the NFL, high school football players experienced 11.2 concussions per 10,000 games or practices, which is nearly twice the number experienced by college football players.

Injuries to the legs, arms and lower back are also among the most prevalent types of injuries.

What Time Is Kickoff?

Friday night kickoff times for high school football games often range between 6:30 and 7:30 pm. The precise beginning time will vary from high school to high school.

These games often take between two and two and a half hours, which means that they are typically over by ten o’clock at night.

Can Players Delay A Game?

Yes, players will sometimes engage in the strategy of delaying the game to get an advantage over their opponents. 

If the ball is not touched within 25 seconds of the referee signaling the beginning of play, the offensive team will be assessed a penalty of five yards.

The National Football League (NFL) and other leagues each have a play clock that is stopped after forty seconds.

How Long Is Halftime?

In high school football, the halftime break normally lasts between 10 and 20 minutes. A break is taken for the players at this time, and the coaches use it to rethink their game plans before the start of the third and fourth quarters. 

Fans have the opportunity to purchase concessions, use the restrooms, and watch performances by the cheerleaders and bands during the halftime break.

What Causes Extra Time In Football?

If there’s a draw in the scores at the end of the match, the game can go into extra time. During extra time, each of the two sides will get the opportunity to have control of the ball at least once. 

This rule is waived if the team that gained possession of the ball first goes on to score a touchdown, thereby winning the game.

Extra time is also allocated for various times the play had to stop. This could be because of sudden bad weather that they’re waiting to pass, or because of an injury to a player that caused the game to stop for a few minutes. 

How Long Is Extra Time?

To reduce the risk of injury to the players, extra time in a football game has been shortened from 15 minutes to 10 minutes. Extra time starts after a 3 miniature break. 

During extra time, both teams will have possession of the football, except when the team that gained possession of the ball initially scored a touchdown.

How long extra time lasts and the rules for this part of the game are decided by individual state associations.

What’s The Mercy Rule?

In high school football, the mercy rule, also known as the knockout rule, is often implemented when one of the school teams has excessively high scores that the other team is unable to reach. 

It is typically used during halftime but can be done at any point during the second half, and it enables the football game to be finished quicker than it normally would be.

Only in six-man football does the state of Texas implement a mercy rule (to end the game) when 45 points have been scored; in 11-man football, there is no automatic halt, but the coaches can agree to utilize a continuous clock if they so choose.

How Long Does A Typical Game Of College Football Last?

The overall playing length of a college football game is 60 minutes, with each quarter being 15 minutes and there being four quarters total. The actual play lasts just a little bit less than three and a half hours, on average.

College football games are significantly longer than those played in the NFL because the clock is stopped after a first down is achieved, and halftimes last for twenty minutes.

It typically takes around 3 and a half hours to watch a college football game on TV because there is extra commentary and other features that will not be shown to people who are watching the game live and in person. 

During the introduction for example, which lasts for five minutes before the game begins, the broadcasters talk about the college football players on both teams as well as the tournament. 

Not every game is the same length; some of them can go on for four hours depending on the extra time needed and other factors. 


As the USA is football crazy, it should be no surprise that people enjoy playing and watching it even at the high school level.

Playing on a school’s football team is often a player’s gateway into playing on college teams and then later on national teams, which is why these younger players are held in such high esteem in their schools. 

Go to a high school football match if you ever have the chase, they’re very fun and a completely “American” thing to do!

Simon Lewis

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