High school football (French: football au lycée) is gridiron football played by high school teams in the United States and Canada. It ranks among the most popular interscholastic sports in both countries, but its popularity is declining. According to The Washington Post, between 2009 and 2019, participation in high school football declined by 9.1%.
Below the largest high school American football stadiums by capacity. Stadiums with a capacity of at least 10,000 are included.
|Wailuku, Hawaii||War Memorial Stadium||23,000|
|Canton, Ohio||Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium||22,400|
|Baton Rouge, Louisiana||BREC Memorial Stadium||21,395|
|Mesquite, Texas||Mesquite Memorial Stadium||20,000|
|Clarkston, Georgia||James R. Hallford Stadium||15,600|
|Roebuck, South Carolina||Cavalier Stadium||15,200|
|Cedar Rapids, Iowa||Kingston Stadium||15,000|
|Tacoma, Washington||Stadium Bowl||15,000|
|Little Rock, Arkansas||Quigley Stadium||15,000|
|Hobbs, New Mexico||Watson Memorial Stadium||15,000|
|Allentown, Pennsylvania||J. Birney Crum Stadium||15,000|
|Cumberland, Maryland||Greenway Avenue Stadium||15,000|
|Meridian, Mississippi||Ray Stadium||14,000|
|McAllen, Texas||McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium||13,500|
|Carrollton, Texas||Tommy Standridge Stadium||13,000|
|Pueblo, Colorado||Dutch Clark Stadium||12,500|
|Irving, Texas||Joy and Ralph Ellis Stadium||12,500|
|Bedford, Texas||Pennington Field||12,500|
|San Benito, Texas||Bobby Morrow Stadium||12,000|
|Austin, Texas||Burger Stadium||12,000|
|Bridgeport, Connecticut||John F. Kennedy Stadium||12,000|
|Denton, Texas||CH Collins Stadium||12,000|
|Houston, Texas||Jones-Cowart Stadium||12,000|
|Pasadena, Texas||Veterans Memorial Stadium||12,000|
|Louisville, Kentucky||Manual Stadium||11,500|
|Cypress, Texas||Cy-Fair FCU Stadium||11,000|
|Austin, Texas||Kelly Reeves Stadium||11,000|
|Evansville, Indiana||Reitz Bowl||11,000|
|Commerce, Texas||Memorial Stadium||11,000|
|San Antonio, Texas||Dub Farris Stadium||10,000|
|Dallas, Texas||Forester Stadium||10,000|
|San Antonio, Texas||Jerry Comalander Stadium||10,000|
|Harlingen, Texas||J. Lewis Boggus Stadium||10,000|
|Miami, Florida||Nathaniel Traz-Powell Stadium||10,000|
|Bluefield, West Virginia||Mitchell Stadium||10,000|
|Brownsville, Texas||Sams Memorial Stadium||10,000|
|Corsicana, Texas||Tiger Stadium||10,000|
|New Braunfels, Texas||Unicorn Stadium||10,000|
|Sioux Falls, South Dakota||Howard Wood Field||10,000|
|Tulsa, Oklahoma||Union-Tuttle Stadium||10,000|
|Waller, Texas||Waller ISD Stadium||10,000|
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) establishes the rules of high school football in the United States.
Since the 2019 high school season, Texas is the only state that does not base its football rules on the NFHS rule set, instead using NCAA rules with certain exceptions shown below. Through the 2018 season, Massachusetts also based its rules on those of the NCAA, but it adopted NFHS rules in 2019.
With their common ancestry, the NFHS rules of high school football are largely similar to the college game, though with some important differences:
At least one unique high school rule has been adopted by college football. In 1996, the overtime rules originally utilized by Kansas high school teams beginning in 1971 were adopted by the NCAA, although the NCAA has made five major modifications. Through the 2018 season, each possession started from the 25-yard line. Since 2021, this remains in force through the first two overtime procedures. In the second overtime, teams must attempt a two-point conversion after a touchdown. Secondly, triple overtime & thereafter are two-point conversion attempts instead of possessions from the 25-yard line, and successful attempts are scored as conversions instead of touchdowns.
Thirty-four states have a mercy rule that comes into play during one-sided games after a prescribed scoring margin is surpassed at halftime or any point thereafter. The type of mercy rule varies from state to state, with many using a "continuous clock" after the scoring margin is reached (wherein, except for specific situations, the clock keeps running on plays where the clock would normally stop). Other states end the game once the margin is reached or passed. For example, Texas uses a 45-point mercy rule (to stop the game) only in six-man football; for 11-man football there is no automatic stoppage but the coaches may mutually agree to use a continuous clock.
Most Canadian schools use Canadian football rules adapted for the high school game. The exception is British Columbia, which uses NFHS rules as used in the United States.
Robert Cantu, a Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Co-Founder of the CTE Center at the Boston University School of Medicine, believes that children under 14 should not play tackle football. Their brains are not fully developed, and myelin (nerve cell insulation) is at greater risk in shear when the brain is young. Myelination is completed at about 15 years of age. Children also have larger heads relative to their body size and weaker necks.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is caused by repeated brain trauma, such as concussions and blows to the head that do not produce concussions. It has been found in football players who had played for only a few years, including some who only played at the high school level.
An NFL-funded study reported that high school football players suffered 11.2 concussions per 10,000 games or practices, nearly twice as many as college football players.
According to 2017 study on brains of deceased gridiron football players, 99% of tested brains of NFL players, 88% of CFL players, 64% of semi-professional players, 91% of college football players, and 21% of high school football players had various stages of CTE.
Other common injuries include injuries of legs, arms, and lower back.
Nationally, high school football participation has declined 9.1 percent over the past 10 years.