As time in any sport is a very important factor, the same is for football. High school football games follow rules specified for the National Federation of State High School Football (NFHF). This is why it has different timing than the NFL. So how long is high school football game?

High school football game is on average 2 to 2.5 hours long. According to NFHF, it has four quarters of 12 min and a half time of 10-20 min.  Considering the half time break and other clock stoppages, the overall game time reaches to about an average of two hours per game from opening kickoff to end of the game.

There are some interval rules which are applied during the game. These intervals are in between each half period. There will be intervals of at least 2min between first quarter and second quarter similarly between third quarter and fourth quarter in which no one except the players of both teams can enter the playing field. The rules of the game are applied in full force except for some given conditions.

1.      Substitutes can enter the field of play.

2.      Trainer or coaches can come to the players.

3.      Healthcare teams can come to field of play

How long is halftime in a high school football game?

The high school football team has an average of 20min halftime. But this halftime varies between different states in the USA. Some states make the halftime according to the grade of players. For example, 8th grade will have halftime of 8mins. Higher the grade, higher will be the halftime break.

There is also some addition to halftime if prior notices are made to the referees and coaches of opponent teams. In this case additional time is added to halftime for the players if they want to go to their lockers or for some other reasons.

How long are high school football quarters?

High school football games usually have different quarters in different areas of the world. According to NFHF the duration for football quarters is 12mins long. Hence the total of 48mins for a game. But considering the clock stoppages and including halftime break the time duration for a real game reaches to an average of two hours.

Although the mutual cooperation of coaches from both teams can decide the halftime duration. They can delay halftime breaks or increase halftime break duration according to the weather conditions.

Varsity Football Games length

The varsity football games of high schools usually range from 2-5 hours depending upon the game condition. The varsity is a college or high school representative team which takes part in national or collegiate competitions.

The coaches may reduce the halftime to a minimum of 10mins by mutual arrangement.

Junior Varsity Football Games length

Junior varsity football game lengths usually last for less time than that of Varsity football games. The period of junior varsity games is also divided into four quarters, each quarter is of 10mins. After two quarters, the halftime of the game is also lesser. The halftime for junior varsity games is also equal to the quarters. Sometimes it is from 10 to 12mins. It looks quite longer on tv. The commercial breaks and advertisements cover up a lot of time but without commercials if breaks are accounted then its a long enough time. 

Normally both types of games i.e. In Varsity and in junior varsity both opponent teams will have mandatory 3mins for warm-up.

High school football game vs NFL football game

The high school games and national level games have a difference in rules as well as the difference in timings. A short summary is given below.

RulesNFLNFHS
Kickoff35 yards line40 yards line
Quarters15mins12mins
Loss of down provision10 yards15 yards
Overtime provisionsMandatoryNot mandatory
Replay review optionNot allowedAllowed
Pop up kickAllowedNot allowed

Factors that affect the length of game

i.                    Merci rule

This rule is for the losing team to quit the game before the time to avoid further humiliation. This rule is also called Slaughter rule or skunk rule. Thus, when this rule is applied the game length usually shortens.

ii.                  Timeouts

Timeouts are usually used when the games provided time is over. It is called by the coaches and referees.

iii.                  Penalties

Penalties are applied on team due to disobeying the game rules. Sometimes penalties are in form of field loss area or players dismissal.

iv.                Overtime

It is when the game is taking too much time than the scheduled time. The overtimes are only allowed with the consent of coaches and referees or management teams.

How long is high school football season?

The length of high school football season depends upon the intensity of the play and level of dedication. The football season in high school usually lasts for about 8-10 games long. The single-elimination rounds are at the start of the game. The teams with good capabilities advance to the playoffs after these rounds. Thus, there will be several rounds for a team to win the championship.

There are also a few scrimmages during the preseason where players play at about 80% intensity. It is more of a glorified practice and an opportunity for bench players to have a chance to prove themselves as starters.

The real length of HS football is in its practices. Starting in August players have practice 5 days a week and infamous “2-a-days” which are self-explanatory. Then during the school year practice genuinely takes a student from right after school until 6 pm or later. High school football is intense and requires a lot time of dedication among other things (pain, soreness, injury, etc). Football at the high school level is definitely not for everyone.

Game clock Rules (On NFL only).

Normally the game begins after the free kick which is touching the ball legally. The clock operator should start the clock when the ball is touched legally. There are some legal points to consider due to which game cannot be started:

1.      If the ball is recovered in the end zone which is not the playing zone of the field.

2.      If the ball is recovered by the kicking team in field of play.

3.      If the other team signals and fairly catches the ball.

Average Canadian high school football game vs American high school football game length

In most of the Canadian high school games use Canadian football rules contrary to NFHS rules. The quarter in the game is of 15 minutes in Canadian high school game thus making the average game timing longer than an American high school game.

Kickoff schedule:

To start the game according to schedule, both teams should be present in field at least 10mins prior to official announced kickoff time. It is the responsibility of official crew members to notify the kickoff time of the game to the head coached of both teams and to referee too.

For the case when the teams or any player cannot reach the spot-on scheduled kickoff time, there are penalties as following.

a)      The team which does not reached the field of play 10mins prior losses the toss coin option.

b)      The team which does not reach the field of play 10mins prior losses 15 yards from the point of kickoff.

c)      For causing any delay in starting or each quarter, 15 yards loss penalty is applied to teams.

The toss coin options are selected by the tossing of the coin between the captains of each team. This toss is for the selection of “heads” or “tails” and is made prior to the toss of the referee.

When the referee tosses the winner of above toss can choose the side of the coin. This is game toss. The winner of the game toss can have the privilege of one to the following options.

1.      The opportunity to start the game by kickoff.

2.      To choose for the side of the goal the want to defend.

Longest high school football game ever

The longest high school football game happened between Jacksonville Indians and Nacogdoches Dragons in 2010. Rodrigo Carreon made a 19-yard field goal in the 12th overtime to settle the longest running game in the history of high school football. Jacksonville had a victory over Nacogdoches; 84-81 win, a nail biting finish.

Earlier to this game, only two game in the history of high school football has lasted 9 overtimes. The first one being played in 1977, a 42-36 southeastern win over Northeastern. This historical game lasted 3 hours and 43 minutes. The other game which achieved 9 overtimes was the 43-40 Bothell win over Pasco.

Jacksonville-Nacogdoches game for an astounding 5 hours and 30 minutes. This game was tied at 28 points at the end of regulation play and lasted till 1 a.m. in the morning.

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