ROBERT MAGOBET

Coordinating football workout groups and ensuring athletes are getting the proper position-specific work in at the Chanute Community Sports Complex stadium aren’t the only aspects of the game on the mind of Clete Frazell.

The Blue Comet head football coach is also thinking about how new rule changes might impact the offensive side of the football. In February, the National Federation of State High School Associations enacted a rule that will change the 25-second play clock rule to 40 seconds in a specific aspect of gridiron action.

For the new rule, when the pigskin has been ruled dead by a referee after a down, 40 seconds will immediately be placed on the play clock as opposed to 25 seconds.

The first-year coach, though, said he needs more of a sample size to see exactly how the new rule change will impact his offense.

“Some of that is probably going to depend on how quick the officials get the ball set and we can move on with our huddle,” Frazell said.

But as a coach for the Blue Comets for the last 14 years, Frazell said he is prepared to make adjustments if need be. When calling plays, Frazell said he was thinking about getting the players wrist bands.

“My plan was sometimes to have our quarterback (Ty Bowman) come to the sideline and get the play on the sideline, but if we are struggling time-wise, I may get some wrist bands that I can signal play calls in with that could speed things up a little bit,” he said.

Adding on to another way of calling plays, in the past, the team has used hand signals for plays, which Frazell said, he didn’t want to use this year because other teams can pick up on hand signals. But Frazell said it is another option for the team.

Still, no matter how the new rule change will impact the local team, play calling — including verbiage of the play — will not be affected by the February change.

“The KISS principle has always kind of stuck with me: Keep It Simple Stupid. Don’t make it harder than it has to be, so that’s kind of my MO,” Frazell continued. “Our play calls are pretty short and simple.”

Frazell said he and assistant coaches — Kurt Sizemore, Devon Crabtree, Luke Hall, Rusty Emling and Bradley Campbell — try to group play calls together in categories for the players to easily remember. Those ways include animals, weather, as well as other concepts.

While Frazell said his team will adapt and adjust any way his team needs to, the 25-second rule — which was immediately timed as soon as the official set the ball down for a new down just last year — didn’t hinder the offense in anyway in 2018, as the previous rule was the norm for coaches. 

And other aspects of the offense may prove to be ineffectual despite the 15-second increase to the play clock in 2019.

This time, however, the play clock will start as soon as a play is declared dead, and the timing of the play will fall on the shoulders of the officials, having a domino effect on the offense, which will need to wait for the center to get the offensive line ready and set.

“40 seconds sounds longer, but as soon as the back or the receiver gets tackled with the ball, the clock starts running immediately,” Frazell said. “My nervousness comes from how quickly the officials are going to get the ball set because our center has to set the huddle after the ball is set. So if it takes the crew a long time to set the ball, then it takes our center longer to set the huddle and the whole play call takes longer. I don’t know if it’s going to change the game much; I think it will probably be pretty similar. But it’s just something different that can be looked as a little stressful, until you see how it’s all going to work out.”

With a few weeks left until the first official practice on Aug. 19 — a day on which players will wear helmets and progress to pads over time — Frazell said he intends to emphasize that the offense needs to be run efficiently.

To help with that, Frazell said he will have a coach use a stopwatch to see how long it takes to get the offense ready, and from the results, make the adjustments when practice officially starts in the coming weeks.

But a real test is on the horizon.

The Jamboree in Fredonia is set for Aug. 30, when the Blue Comets will play multiple high school football teams with officiating.

“That’ll be a good resource for that because they will have officials at the Jamboree,” Frazell commented. “They’ll kind of work with us and make sure we understand how everything works. That’ll be a good test run.”

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