In the United States, high school teams fight it out to become the best in football. Tracing its beginning in the late 19th century, American high school football also has various traditions like marching bands, homecomings, pep rallies, and mascots.
Considered as the 3rd tier in American football, it is the first level in which a player can hone his skills and accumulate statistics. A high school football player can have a chance of playing in college football and the professional field if he has enormous talent.
Organizations that Sanction High School Football in the United States
All US states have at least one organization that sanctions public schools. But, in most states, another organization sanctions interscholastic athletics in many private schools. Each of these organizations divides its member schools into classifications, based on the number of enrollees. Then, geographic regions further divide each classification. The number of divisions varies per state.
Home schooled students can join freelance or independent teams to be able to participate in American high school football. These teams compete against small public and private schools. In Florida, home schooled students can compete in inter-school athletics.
Training starts with conditioning activities like speed and agility training and weightlifting. Most schools begin training right after the end of each season. Most states do not allow formal practices during the summer. But, towards the end of summer, double sessions begin and last until the beginning of the school year.
During the regular season, football teams practice daily, usually in the after. Saturdays are also for practices, while Sundays are rest days. Most states, except for Kansas, Minnesota, and New York, allow ten games.
The first game usually starts in late August or early September. The final game is from mid to late October. Most high school games are on Friday nights.
Playoffs and Post-Season Football Games
Before the 1970s, most states create polls to crown the state champions. Since the playoff systems have become popular, these states have increased the number of teams that can participate, as well as the number of classifications. Regional champions compete during the playoff rounds to decide which of the teams is the state champion per classification.
Only New Jersey does not have a state champion for public schools, but it does determine the regional state champions. It crowns state champions for private schools, though. Massachusetts started crowning state champions in 2014. Before 2014, it only crowns regional champions. In New York, the divisions representing Long Island and New York City do not participate in state tournaments.
A neutral site usually hosts championship games. They are often NFL or college stadiums in order to house large crowds. Also, professional and college fields have better equipment to deal with inclement weather. Most state championships occur from late November to mid-December.
Internet sites and publications have nationwide rankings based on mathematical formulas or polls. Often, they consider different factors like strength of schedule and average margin of victory. In the USA Today poll, schools that finish on top of the rankings become national champions.