American high school football mercy rule?

My high school was know more for high SAT scores than winning football teams, but I just saw that they lost a game 91-0.

Don’t they have a mercy rule? It’s ridiculous to continue to play a game like that, let the game go to halftime, let the bands perform (my high school band was excellent) and then end it.

It’s going to depend on the rules of the state high school athletic association, or possibly the conference. Unlike the NCAA or the NFL, there’s not really a unified national rules association for high school sports. There is the National Federation of State High School Associations, but that’s a group which all of the state athletic associations belong to. It looks like the NFHS does publish rules for each sport, but individual state associations can choose what portions of the NFHS rules to use.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association adopted a mercy rule in 2019, though it doesn’t end the game early (it keeps the clock running in the second half, if it’s a blowout). Hawaii has a similar rule.

Based on a few moments of googling, it looks like several other states have similar sorts of rules, but I don’t see one where the game is simply declared over if one team is outscoring another by enough.

According to rule 3-1-2 of the national high school rule book, used in every state except Texas (which uses slightly modified NCAA rules), each state’s athletic association can come up with its own rule as to when a game can be ended and/or when a running clock must be used. In California, the rule is, a running clock is used if, at any time in the fourth quarter, one team has a 35-point or bigger lead.

Also note that a game can be ended, or a running clock used, at any time if both teams agree to it.

In my state, once a 45-point lead has been reached any time in the second half, a running clock is to be used.

In 6-man and 8-man football, 45 points is the mercy rule. If a team leads by 45 points or more at halftime or at any point in the second half, the game is over.

At least the last time I checked, in Missouri they use a running clock in the second half. Even with that, by the fourth quarter, when the teams have all their scrubs in, the third string players still manage to keep scoring.

Right this is the real challenge in blow out games. My college team won a game 77-0 this year. They pulled the starters at halftime with the score 49-0 and the losers having -6 yds of total offense. The second team played the third quarter and then all of the scrubs were put in for the fourth as long as it didn’t hurt their redshirt. The back ups allowed 26 yds of total offense. This was a conference game so there was no way to avoid scheduling it.

I’m against the mercy rule for competitive sports since it gives backups lots of plays and experience that they wouldn’t otherwise get. I also don’t like teams scheduling down to less competitive programs and it happens at the high school level too and there should be repercussions, personally I like the D2 method of the game not counting so when you get to the end of the season you’ve played 1 less game then everyone else and get down seeded appropriately.

Yeah, I’ve seen that happen in NCAA Division 1 football once. Same story- pretty much everyone whose redshirt wouldn’t be affected ended up playing- even people with duplicate numbers and no names on the jerseys. Same problem- even the scrubs were running the ball every down and scoring touchdowns nearly unhindered.

In Texas high school football, the six-man and 1A levels have mercy rules, but above that, there aren’t any that I’m aware of. As best I can tell, the idea is that with so few players, there’s a lot of possibility for huge talent differentials in the lower levels, and greater possibility for blowouts. But there’s some discussion of mercy rules in the larger school categories as well, because there are many huge blowouts.

Yeah, and in addition to allowing some players to come off the bench for some rare play, what is the coach supposed to do, tell the team not to try, or not to score? I agree a running clock both teams agree to seems fair, and the coach can call less aggressive plays with 3rd and 4th stringers, but there is only so much that can be done - those 3rd and 4th stringers are going to try as hard as they can to make plays and if they have a chance to score or make a big play, you bet they are going to try for that as well. You cannot tell the team to just lay down.

Something similar just happened last Friday in my area. Inglewood High blew out traditional rival Morningside 106-0. 52-0 at the end of first quarter, 86-0 at halftime. Running clock started in the second quarter.

Things that raised eyebrows - Inglewood kept their starting quarterback in the entire game, presumably so he could break the state Southern Section record for most TD passes in a game (He did, with 13). Also went for 2 point conversions in the second half. Inglewood benefits from being the big fish in a small pond (undefeated season so far) and has a lot of transfer student players. Locals are suggesting they should be moved to a different league (local high school version of conferences) where they’ll face real competition.

Yeah that seems more like a dick head coach on the winning team keeping his foot on the gas the whole game rather than trying to dial-back the intensity in a blow-out win.

In Missouri, we have leagues (aka conferences,) which are usually a geographical grouping, but divisional playoffs, which are based on school size. While a team can fatten up their regular season record against smaller, weaker teams in its league, once the state championships start, the slate is wiped clean, and it’s normal for schools ending up in playoff rounds that require travelling halfway across the state.

Follow up on the Inglewood High blowout game:

Inglewood High’s principal issued an apology:

We did not conduct ourselves with sportsmanship and integrity and the final score was unacceptable

I don’t get the point of mercy rules. It seems like it should be the decision of the losing team, not the winning one - if they want to forfeit a game they can’t win they should be allowed to with no penalty, but if they want to fight to the bitter end, let them. Boxers get to throw in the towel, so why shouldn’t football teams?

The referee or doctor at ringside can also stop the fight even if the boxer wants to keep fighting.

But not the opponent.

Yup. “Mercy rules” seem mostly designed to spare coaches embarassment and possible job loss.

The only exception I can see is if the team that’s winning is so physically superior that the losing side risks serious injury. Example: what’s supposed to be the worst blowout in college football history, Georgia Tech over Cumberland in 1916, by a score of 222-0. They were supposedly pissed off by Cumberland using ringers in a previous big baseball win over Tech and as a result, ran up the score as much as possible.

GT did shorten quarters in the second half, but Cumberland (which had dropped football before the season but scrambled together a squad to avoid being sued over canceling the GT game) had several players sustain significant injuries.

*the Georgia Tech coach was John Heisman (yes, that Heisman).