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Flag Football Surges with HS Football Postponed

October 13, 2020 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingFootball
With no high school football during the fall months in upstate New York, schools and athletes have found an alternative to the traditional gridiron sport — seven-on-seven flag football.

According to a story from The Buffalo News, football was labeled a high-risk sport and the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) announced a planned start date for football on March 1. Flag football, however, was labeled a moderate-risk sport due to no tackling or blocking.

flag football
Photo: USAG-Humphreys / Creative Commons

High school football players who were looking to stay sharp on the field if and when the sport resumes this school year are forced to play in club leagues that are not sponsored by schools, according to The Buffalo News.

The Cross Training Athletics Flag Football Club League features more than 550 athletes from more than 20 area schools. Roster sizes are limited to 15 because no more than 50 people are allowed on the field at the same time due to COVID-19 safety guidelines. Teams play in divisions for 17-under, 15-under, and 17-under for those more than 175 pounds.

Games are 40 minutes of running time divided into two 20-minute halves. There is, of course, no contact. Offensive units start at the 40-yard line and can earn a first down at the 20. They are allowed just one run play every four downs.

“I’ll take football any way I can get it,” Canisius High senior and Sacred Heart University football commit Joseph Dixon, who plays on B.D.C. in the flag league, told The Buffalo News. “I would love to be in full pads, getting going for another state championship, but I’ll take it. It’s better than nothing. I’m just thankful for this.”

The flag football league provides a chance for athletes to get in some route running and work on their receiving and passing skills. It is providing an offseason activity for them. All high school teams were prohibited from conducting traditional offseason workouts in the spring and summer. Since the start of the fall high school sports season for low- and moderate-risk sports, some high-risk sports teams have been given the OK to conduct voluntary, non-contact workouts as long as they follow recommended COVID-19 guidelines.

“We were planning this and if football games started today, we would end the league right away,” Cross Training Athletics director Mike Masters said to The Buffalo News. “Football is meant to be with blocking and tackling, but there’s no other option right now, so we want to give the coaches and kids that were practicing an option to compete.”

To read the full story from The Buffalo News on the rise of seven-on-seven flag football, click here