Is three-plus hours too long for high school football games?
Sometimes when a game lasts over three hours, both teams are passing and scoring a lot of points — many coming quickly on big plays. There's just not a lot that can be done about it.
When at least one of the teams is running the football a lot, the clock should keep moving and the game's length should be shortened.
However, Eizabethton ran the football 68 times — including a pair of quarterback sacks — in a 40-35 loss to Science Hill on Friday night. And the Cyclones had the ball most of the game, running 91 plays compared to 46 for the Hilltoppers — almost exactly twice as many snaps.
That's one of the highest number of snaps in recent memory. Part of the reason for Elizabethton getting so many plays was because both teams spent much of the evening in no-huddle sets.
Another factor was Science Hill's offense. The Hilltoppers had clock-stopping plays on over half (28) of their snaps. They threw 14 incomplete passes, scored six touchdowns, and totaled eight non-scoring first downs — and the total doesn't even include plays the finished out of bounds.
Certainly the number of penalties also factored into the length of the game. All of these aforementioned things just happen sometimes.
However, one thing that could improve is the pace of the officiating. There were numerous delays by the officiating crew throughout the course of the game — including several useless measurements.
Perhaps it can be said the officials were keeping the pace down to help protect the players from heat issues on a humid night. But it's hard to see an advantage to players in full gear over the course of a game that is pushed to three hours and eight minutes.
It's early in the season, and the kinks will get ironed out. But for a 48-minute in-action game, it surely seems a three-hour contest should be the rare exception instead of a regular occurrence.
Already this season, at least three area games have gone over three hours (David Crockett vs. Unicoi County, Hampton vs. Unicoi and the Hilltoppers' contest) while another game (Crockett-East) was pushing it.
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Football games of the week: David Crockett at Science Hill, Sullivan Central at Daniel Boone, Sullivan South at Happy Valley, Sullivan North at Unicoi County, Unaka at Hampton, Chuckey-Doak at Greeneville.
Pioneers vs. Hilltoppers — If Crockett really wants to gain momentum for its football program turnaround, the Pioneers could start with at least being competitive against Science Hill. In the last three meetings, 139 points separate these teams. That's an average margin of victory of seven touchdowns. …
Cougars vs. Trailblazers — Boone has regained momentum lost with a hard-fought one-point win over Cherokee. However, Central is an old rival the 'Blazers can't take for granted.
Rebels vs. Warriors — It's one of the two biggest defensive challenges Happy Valley will face all season. Ball-control offense is likely the Warriors' only chance to pull off the upset.
Raiders vs. Blue Devils — In an odd quirk of the schedule, Unicoi will meet North for the third time in its last five games.
The teams played in Week 10 last year, and in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs with North winning by a combined margin of 82-12.
Rangers vs. Bulldogs — It could turn into a disaster of a season if heavily favored Hampton (0-2) doesn't get things turned around this week against a team that is still looking for its first points of the year.
Black Knights vs. Greeneville — Doak is off to a nice start, but this is a different animal. The Black Knights have only scored a total of 63 points in the last 11 meetings with Greeneville while the Greene Devils have averaged 50 per game in the last four matchups.
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Pick of the Week — Science Hill 54, David Crockett 22.
The Hilltoppers like to snap it quick, snap it often, and score the same way. And the Pioneers don't appear to have the horsepower to stay on the lead lap.
Picks record: 2-0.
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Player of the week — Malik McGue of Science Hill.
He's 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds of quick, and a pretty good field general, too. McGue helped prevent an Elizabethton upset by passing for 213 yards and rushing for 122 more in a 40-35 victory over Elizabethton in the Hilltoppers' season opener.
The junior quarterback had touchdown runs of 48 yards and 1 yard, passing scores of 43 and 53 yards, and set up two other scores with long completions.
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The Hogs Award — Elizabethton Cyclones.
For the second straight week, the “Clone Hogs” were rock solid at the point of attack. They helped the team rack up 376 yards rushing on a mammoth 68 attempts for an average of 5.5 yards per carry.
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Defensive unit of the week — Sullivan East Patriots.
The biggest thing for the Patriots was just getting a win, but the defense went the extra mile in a 31-0 decision against Unaka.
East's defense allowed just 84 yards rushing on 28 attempts, an average of three yards per carry. It also forced 14 incomplete passes and intercepted two of them.
Also, the Patriots forced seven punts and recovered a fumble.
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Prep spotlight: Area coaches can submit standout performances for girls soccer, volleyball, cross country and golf to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deadline is Sunday at midnight.
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This Week in Prep History — September 3, 1993.
Elizabethton earned its first victory at Memorial Stadium in 20 years, topping Science Hill 13-6 in the season opener for both teams.
It was the first win for Cyclones' head coach Dave Rider on the road against the Hilltoppers. Elizabethton stopped Science Hill on downs inside the 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.
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Greeneville and Science Hill swap places in this week's Prep Top 10 as the Greene Devils destroyed Morristown West 40-0 in their season opener.
Team W-L Prv
1. Greeneville 1-0 2
2. Science Hill 1-0 1
3. Sullivan South 2-0 4
4. Dobyns-Bennett 1-1 3
5. Elizabethton 1-1 6
6. Tennessee High 1-1 5
7. Sullivan North 1-1 7
8. David Crockett 2-0 9
9. Daniel Boone 1-1 10
10. Cloudland 2-0 nr
(tie) Chuckey-Doak 2-0 nr