The Idaho High School Activities Association Board of Directors approved a proposal Wednesday to delay the start of the mercy rule for football games in the 5A and 3A classifications until the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The IHSAA instituted a mercy rule for all of Idaho’s 11-man football programs last fall, allowing a running clock to take affect in any game where one team leads by 40 or more points after halftime. In the Treasure Valley, 50-of-150 (33 percent) regular-season football games in the 5A, 4A, 3A and 2A classifications fell under the rule.
The proposal passed as a first reading and the IHSAA will have to confirm it at its next board meeting April 5.
An Idaho Statesman survey of Treasure Valley coaches showed mixed feelings for the mercy rule with 14-of-30 wanting to keep the rule as written. The strongest support for changing or getting rid of the rule came from the 5A SIC (8-of-12 coaches) and the 3A SRV (3-of-4 coaches). One 3A coach did not respond.
“We are not getting enough possessions in the second half for our backups,” said Capital coach Todd Simis, whose team averaged three possessions in the second half under the running clock. “They deserve to play too. The game goes too fast.”
Julie Hammons, the assistant director of the IHSAA, said the 4A and 2A classifications will remain under the halftime rule because the majority of their coaches preferred to keep the mercy rule as is.
Hammons added when teams play across classifications, the home team’s classification will determine when the mercy rule starts. For example, when a 4A team hosts a 5A team, the mercy rule running clock would begin at the start of the second half.
The official IHSAA playoffs — the semifinals and beyond in 5A and 4A, and the quarterfinals and beyond in 3A, 2A and 1A — still will not apply the mercy.