Its a violent game where the object is to move an opponent against his will by force, preferably to the ground.But lasting health problems because of concussions and the overall violent nature of football have prompted some well-documented measures, from the NFL down to the high school level, to limit full-contact practice.Last month the UIL Medical Advisory Committee recommended a proposal that would limit teams to 90 minutes of full-contact, game-speed practice per week during the season. The UIL defines game speed as tackling or blocking a player to the ground.The proposal must be approved by the UIL Legislative Council and then the commissioner of education before taking effect. But area coaches say they already limit full-speed contact and that the rule would have little effect.Were supposed to be a physical team, I guess, and I would say we have not broken that rule since the 70s, said Euless Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver, who said he saw practices change when he was an assistant under former Trinity coach John Reddell. He was ahead of his time in doing what we call dummy-live practice, where you didnt take anyone to the ground, you kept players fresh.Practices are most physical right now, during spring drills. The UIL proposal would not cover spring or preseason camp.In spring, were out here in full pads every day and we limit the full-contact sessions to just our team sessions, about the last 20 minutes of practice each day, Hurst L.D. Bell coach Mark Smith said. Its our full-contact, live, team scrimmages, but even in those sessions we blow a quick whistle to try and keep people safe, where we are not taking people to the ground.Many of the coaches interviewed said they still use physical drills during spring ball because, as Lineweaver puts it, at some point you have to find out who wants to hit.Springs a little bit different animal then fall ball, Southlake Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. We have a lot more contact in the spring than we do in the fall for obvious reasons. You have to get your kids ready for game speed when they are fatigued. We try to prepare our kids as best we can through a game-speed environment because football is a physical sport its a contact sport.Yet Wasson was one of several coaches who said that even in spring practice, the full motion of tackling a player to the ground is rarely played all the way through.We dont take people to the ground unless everybody knows its the purpose of a particular drill, and we dont do it for long, and you hold your breath when you do it, Colleyville Heritage coach Mike Fuller said. Well do something like the Oklahoma drill during spring ball and its a five-minute segment, and not everyones in it. Were not going to do it for long.Not everyone is on board with the proposed contact limit. Scott Peach, who has been head coach at Arlington since 2003 and is the son of legendary Arlington Lamar coach Eddy Peach, said hes disappointed but knew these changes would trickle down from the NFL.We get after it pretty good during the season. Now were still kind of old school as far as we do go full pads Monday-Wednesday, Peach said. I know that a lot of people have made the change now as far as more shorts and less pads, but weve kind of carried on with our tradition at our place, so its going to be a change for us.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JohnsonJarret