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Matt Harris

Matt joined the team in the fall of 2011. He is the Sports Information Director and also broadcasts many sporting events throughout Idaho. Matt grew up in Alberta, Canada and moved to the Gem State in 2004. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Broadcast Communications and works for Riverbend Communications. Matt married his wife (and much better half), Hannah, in 2010 and they have three children: Eli, Naomi, and Elizabeth. He and his family reside in Idaho Falls. Follow Matt on Twitter: @IdahoSportsMatt


The Football Mercy Rule Is Changing... Again
Published: 4/7/2017 5:50:53 PM

The mercy rule for Idaho high school football is morphing once again.

Follow Matt on Twitter: @IdahoSportsMatt

Football fans watching blowout games next year will see the mercy rule implemented differently.

The Board of Directors of the Idaho High School Activities Association has approved modifications to the current edition of the mercy rule. The changes were first reported by Michael Lycklama of the Idaho Statesman.

The current mercy rule, which was implemented before the start of the 2016 football season for all 11-man football teams, stated that the game clock would run continuously for the remainder of the contest once a 40-point lead was reached by either team at any point from halftime onward. That part of the rule is not changing.

The change is all dependent upon the size of the school a team is playing.

The new mercy rule adds modifications to when the running clock can be implemented based on the designated classification of a school. The new rule states that 5A and 3A schools who host football contests will not start the running clock until the beginning of the fourth quarter. What does that mean, exactly?

For example, it would mean that if a 5A school is hosting a 4A school and is leading by 40-plus points, they would have to wait until the fourth quarter to start the running clock. However, if the scenario was flipped and a 4A school was hosting a 5A school, the running clock could begin as soon as the 40-point threshold was reached at any point in the second half (including the start of the third quarter). The rule is completely dependent on which school is hosting the game. If a 5A or 3A school hosts the game, the earliest the running clock can start is the beginning of the fourth quarter. If a 4A or 2A school hosts the game, the earliest the running clock can start is the beginning of the third quarter.

The changes to the rules do not effect either 1A classification, nor will they be implemented for any IHSAA playoff games.

The modifications to the rule for only the 5A and 3A classifications comes after a majority of those coaches in those classifications asked for changes to be made.

A majority of 11-man non-conference football games in Idaho feature 5A vs. 4A schools or 3A vs. 2A schools. This latest edition of the mercy rule should allow coaches a better opportunity to insert and play second and third-string players in these cross-classification matchups for a significant amount of time, which is a primary reason behind the original submission (and now implementation) of the new mercy rule.

Flaws in the previous version of the rules have been exposed and (hopefully) eliminated with these changes. Fortunately, the opportunities are there for schools to submit changes to state-only rules.

Will this be the last change to the rule? If history sets a pattern (based on changes to the longtime 1A mercy rule since the 11-man mercy rule was implemented just last year), then we can probably expect another change sometime in the future. But let's hope that this edition of the rule works the best and that this benefits the coaches, officials, and players who will be using it.

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