Sep 17, 2013 9:27 PM by Nathan O'Neal
TUCSON - As football season is in full swing at high schools across the state, they are adjusting to new rules that limit physical contact during football practices in an attempt to curb the potential for serious injuries.
High Schools across Arizona have a new rule in football and it limits the amount of time that student athletes are allowed to stay in full pads and in "full contact."
At an after-school practice at Flowing Wells High School, Jeffrey Chang - a sophomore - suits up with his teammates. He has had two close calls with concussions, once in a game and another occurring during practice.
"We were doing a kick off drill and one of my teammates hit me and about five minutes after I just got really lightheaded, everything was foggy... was really dizzy, couldn't really walk straight," he told News 4 Tucson.
It's those types of scenarios that the Arizona Interscholastic Association is looking to prevent. It rolled out a statewide rule that only allows athletes to practice in "full contact" for 1/3 of the total practice time during the season - as for the preseason, it's limited to only half.
Mark Brunenkant is the head coach at Flowing Wells High School and he says the rule change is a benefit to the students' health.
"We want to be safe... you want some accountability, some documentation if something were to happen," Brunenkant said.
However, the coaching staff already takes head-related injuries very seriously, both off and on the field.
"We have a practice plan," Brunenkant said, adding later: "We always have a plan and we know how much contact that we have implemented in our practice... So even if the rule didn't come out, we'd still be following it.
As for Chang, he sees why this new practice rule could be a good thing as he speaks from personal experience.
"The contact is just really rough on the body and we just need a break every once in a while," Chang said.
Coach Brunenkant said that this is a move in the right direction and it manages to maintain the integrity of the game while also keeping the safety of the athletes a priority.