MIKE NIETO: Illinois should allow controlled football scrimmages

2012-08-09T19:00:00Z MIKE NIETO: Illinois should allow controlled football scrimmagesMike Nieto Prep Beat nwitimes.com
August 09, 2012 7:00 pm  • 

Tonight and Saturday, schools from neighboring Indiana will take part in a controlled scrimmage against another school.

It is sort of a practice a week before the regular season. Remember, Indiana starts its prep football season a week before Illinois.

Next weekend, Illinois schools will hold a team scrimmage and the talk has been that the coaches want a scrimmage against someone other than their own kids.

Several Illinois coaches have coached in Indiana and said there is a benefit, including Thornwood's Will Milhouse, who was an assistant at Merrillville High School.

"I am one of those who is pushing for it," he said. "It worked real well when I was at Merrillville. I think it is just good for teams to see someone else and have a chance to work on their game."

Homewood-Flossmoor coach Craig Buzea was a head coach at Portage and Michigan City, and while he is not against the controlled scrimmage, he said he is not a big fan of them.

"I think it gives you a chance to see what another team has," Buzea said. "The real benefit comes from scouting the other scrimmages of the teams on your schedule. You have a chance to see the different teams."

Another thought is, with football being conducted in the summer, most teams get in what they need to. Though, most teams do not play their starters the whole scrimmage. It is a chance to give others a chance to prove themselves. The scrimmages consist of plays against a live defense from various positions on the field. It gives coaches a chance to work on different scenarios as the coaches are on the field, just like a practice.

The Illinois High School Association's by-laws state that teams can play nine regular-season games unless a team makes the playoffs or is a Chicago Public League or Catholic League school. In which case, those schools can participate in their respective league's playoffs, culminating with the Prep Bowl.

IHSA assistant executive director Craig Anderson, who oversees football, said if schools want a scrimmage, they would have to give up a regular-season game. He said the proposal came to the legislative committee a few years ago, but it never made it out for a vote. The reason was not enough people were for it. He also said it might open the door for other sports wanting to have a scrimmage.

T.F. North coach Artie Rogers, who was a head coach at Clark High School in Hammond, as well as an assistant at Merrillville, Hammond High and Hammond Morton, is in favor of the scrimmage.

"It gives an inexperienced team a week to get ready," Rogers said. "There are just so many things you need to work on and to see another team line up against yours, that is a plus.

"I am for it."

I do not think the team should give up a game. You could scrimmage on Aug. 17 or Aug. 18. You may have to move the start of practice up a few days. This year, teams would have started on Monday instead of Wednesday, but that would work. T.F. South could scrimmage against Morris or Ottawa, or Bloom Township could go against one of the Joliet schools.

Illinois should follow Indiana's lead on this one.


This column is solely the writer's opinion. Reach him at mike.nieto@nwi.com.

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