High school football takes a national numbers hit

It’s official; high school football participation is on a downward trend.

The National Federation of State High School Associations announced this week that participation numbers for all high school sports declined this past school year for the first time in 30 years. The two sports that took the greatest hit were football and basketball.

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There was a drop of 43,000-plus high school sports participants from all sports from the 2017-18 school year. Eleven-player football had nearly 31,000 less participants, although the sport still drew more than 1 million players. That was the fifth straight season for national football numbers to drop.

“While we recognize that the decline in football participation is due, in part, to concerns about the risk of injury, we continue to work with our member state associations, the nation’s high schools and other groups to make the sport as safe as possible,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director, in a release.

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“Every state has enacted rules that limit the amount of contact before the season and during practices, and every state has concussion protocols and laws in place, so we continue to believe that the sport is as safe as it has ever been.”

Most area teams will play Week 1 games on Friday.

• The first Harbin football computer rankings will be released after Week 3 games. The Ohio High School Athletic Association uses this formula to determine which teams qualify for the playoffs.

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Teams earn first-level points for wins and second-level points for wins by a defeated opponent. A sliding point-level scale is used for the seven divisions, D-I being the greatest and D-VII the least. There are four regions in each division. The top eight teams in each region following the end of the regular season advance to the postseason.

• Arcanum beat all area teams to an opening win. The Trojans were to have played Oldenburg (Ind.) Academy at Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis on Friday. Instead, earlier this week Oldenburg informed Arcanum head coach and athletic director Jason Schondelmyer the game was off due to too many injured Oldenburg players.

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That was too late for Arcanum to find another Week 1 game and resulted in a 1-0 forfeit win.

“It’s hard to comprehend,” Schondelmyer said. “We are 1-0 and 50 percent of (Ohio’s) high schools are not going to be 1-0 after (Week 1 games). It’s unfortunate. We looked throughout the state and in fairness to the guys we reached out to who were playing club teams, they said, Jason, we’re not going to break our contract with this team this late in the game, and I don’t blame them.”

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Arcanum’s delayed opener will be in Week 2 against visiting Springfield Catholic Central.

• The Week 1 Backyard Blitz will be held at Wayne High School. Created by Flyin’ to the Hoop president Eric Horstman, Wayne will host defending D-I state runner-up Cincinnati Colerain on Friday and Carroll gets Columbus St. Francis DeSales at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

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• Tippecanoe and new coach Matt Burgbacher is the only area team participating in the season-long and Cincinnati-based Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown. Tipp is at Cincinnati Mt. Healthy on Friday.

• It’s a shortened Week 2, due to the Labor Day holiday on Monday. There is one Week 2 area Thursday, Sept. 5, game, Tipp at Springfield Shawnee.

• Teams should email game results as soon as possible to sports@coxohio.com. Include highlights and notable stats.

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