Common in many states, but unprecedented in Kansas, the Kansas State High School Activities Association has finally allowed pre-season, inter-squad football scrimmages.
The KSHSAA rules allow teams an optional jamboree of three to four teams a week before the start of the regular season.
Newton will travel to Valley Center at 10 a.m. Saturday for a jamboree with McPherson.
Under the format, each team will get to run 36 offensive plays total, 18 against the other two teams. (In four-team jamborees, teams will run 12 offensive series against each squad).
There will be no special teams work permitted. Coaches will be allowed on the field during play.
“I voted against it during the summer, but we decided to take part to take advantage of the opportunity for the kids,” Newton coach Chris Jaax said. “I was afraid it will affect the Fall Fest, and it will.”
The Fall Fest, where all the Newton fall sports scrimmage or are introduced, will still go on from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday at Fischer Field.
Jaax said the team will run some seven-on-seven plays and do some work on the defensive line.
“We don’t want to have full-contact, and come back 11 hours later and have more full-contact,” Jaax said.
Saturday’s scrimmages will give Newton a chance to get a number of new players acclimated to the rigors and speed of varsity football, while also giving a number of players a chance to work at new positions this season.
“We’ve been trying to get the players to be more physical this season,” Jaax said. “This will give us a chance to do that. We’re also still evaluating a lot of players at different positions. I’d like to see us work on executing our plays.”
Newton is coming off a 3-6 season last year, while McPherson was 11-1, falling in the Class 4A semifinals to Goddard 15-14. Valley Center finished 3-6 last season.
Jaax said he is pleased with what he’s seen out of his team in the first two weeks of practice.
“All of the kids have been working hard in practice,” he said. “We’ve spent a lot of time working on execution. We’ve just been working on trying to get a little bit better each day.”
Newton opens the regular season Sept. 6 at home against Buhler.