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Physical play clock voted down

Athletic directors from the state's largest schools have determined that the cost of adding a physical play clock in high school football will be too great to institute by next school year.

Athletic directors from the state's largest schools have determined that the cost of adding a physical play clock in high school football will be too great to institute by next school year.

The measure for teams in 11AA and 11AAA was one of the major football discussion points at the annual athletic directors meeting in Pierre last week. It was voted down by an 18-0 margin.

"To give schools a $10,000 budget item roughly four months before the start of the season was the main issue," said Mitchell Activities Director Geoff Gross, who was in attendance at the three-day meetings. "That was the only negative in the discussion."

The proposal would have forced teams that play in the state's two largest classes to have a physical play clock at the back of the end zones to show the countdown after each play before a delay of game penalty would be called.

As it is today, high school football facilities are not mandated to have the actual clock. Instead, the back judge on a five-man referee crew is responsible for keeping track of the remaining time. When the clock starts to wind down before expiring, the back judge counts off with a hand motion similar to a five-second count in basketball.

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Despite getting rejected this year, Gross believes the measure will get a look again in the near future.

"Give it a year or two to give people a chance to prepare for it," he said. "But to say it needed to be done for the fall of 2013, that was the downfall."

Gross listed at least eight schools that will play in 11AA or 11AAA next year that aren't already equipped with a physical play clock. They are Huron, Pierre, Brandon Valley, Sioux Falls O'Gorman, Sturgis, Spearfish, Watertown and Yankton.

Other schools' fields around the state, like Mitchell's Joe Quintal Field, are already capable of having a physical play clock. Dakota Wesleyan University also plays on Joe Quintal, and all games the Tigers played are required to have a physical play clock.

"We're in a unique place here," Gross said. "We could have easily taken care of it because everything is already in place. Any place that has college football would have had it already taken care of."

Mitchell High School football coach Kent VanOverschelde has been in favor of adding the physical play clock since the measure was discussed at the football advisory committee in November.

"I believe it would be great for overall management of the game," VanOverschelde said.

In another football-related item that was discussed at the football portion of the athletic directors meeting, athletic directors voted in favor to allow first- and second-round playoff start times to begin as early as 5:30 p.m., subject to approval of both teams. The vote was 119 in favor of the proposal with one opposing.

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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