By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
High school football fans can get home a half-hour earlier on Friday nights beginning this fall.
The Mississippi High School Activities Association made a few changes to the upcoming football season, including changing kickoffs to 7 p.m. for the entire season.
Kickoffs had been at 7:30 through the first half of the season in an attempt to avoid as much summer heat as possible. The season will also start a week later.
“I love that. You’re not in the heat as long and when you’re starting in July, that takes away time with family,” Booneville coach Mike Mattox said. “That’s precious family time.”
The season’s first official games are scheduled for Aug. 22-23.
Also beginning this season, there are no longer mandatory byes for Classes 1A, 5A and 6A.
“We’ve been playing junior high games starting at 6 for years. As long as we have heat timeouts, it’s not going to be big a deal. Our referees do a good job of watching the heat,” Mattox said.
Mattox also said for staffs like Booneville’s that wash jerseys and do all the clean-up postgame, it means getting home that much earlier.
“No doubt the earlier start time on Friday night is better,” Saltillo coach Pat Byrd said. “You get folks home at a decent hour, especially when you have to travel like we do. I’m all for the season to start later than that, but it’s progress. It’s better than what it was.”
Saltillo has one of the state’s toughest travel schedules, with the Lee County school traveling as far as Clarksdale and to three opponents in Desoto County.
Corinth coach Doug Jones says he is fine with earlier kickoffs. During his time at Class 6A Madison Central, Jones was part of the mandatory bye weeks.
“I did not like it. I never talked to anybody that did like that bye week,” Jones said. “To me, that’s five days, then you go through the next week, that’s nine days without a game.”