WIAA implements new practice rules for high school football players

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SHOREWOOD (WITI) -- High school football teams around Wisconsin are hitting the gridiron this week, gearing up for their seasons. This year, however, there are some changes to how students will be allowed to practice.

The WIAA has made mandates limiting how much contact teams will be allowed to have.

"I enjoy just the contact, you know, some people like to take their anger out on certain things. People could do it in football," said Messmer/Shorewood football player Deonte Newsome.

This week, no full contact is allowed on the practice field. Next week, teams are limited to 75 minutes for the week and after that, a 60 minute cap is in place for the rest of the season.

With concussions and head injures becoming a staple of the sport, Messmer/Shorewood head football coach Drake Zortman says the WIAA's rules could help bolster the sport's popularity.

"I really feel like it's what's in the best interest of the athletes, what's in the best interest of high school football. We've seen the numbers dropping the last few years, I think this will stem that tide. If not, numbers will being to increase," said Zortman.

Teams are also now restricted on how much equipment they can wear, and when. The rule is meant to help players get used to the heat and weight of their gear.

"I think it's a good thing to take it slow," said Newsome. "Just having helmets on the first couple days is probably a struggle for some of the young guys who never did it before."

With the new regulations in place, Zortman says the sport has never been safer.