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AHSFHS Article Series


   The best of the best in Alabama High   
  School Football over the past 100 seasons.






Early Football Rules



No hashmarks- The ball was spotted 1 yard in from the spot where the ball carrier was downed. An out-of-bounds play, the ball was set near the sideline. Until 1920, point after touchdowns would be attempted from where the ball had crossed the goal line for the kick attempt.

First use of hashmarks, 1932 in the NFL.

Hashmarks 17 yards 2 feet 4 inches in (53'4"), NFHS (High School) today.

Until 1932, on a kick-off or free-kick, the receiving could send 10 players running back to where the kick was caught and form a flying wedge on the return, a "thundering herd".

In 1911, Princeton beat Dartmouth when two drop kicks bounced over the crossbars and were called good for 3 points. The referee said there was no rule against it. In 1912 there was such a rule. This was also the same year that it became 4 downs to make 10 yards, when the field was reduced from 110 yards to 100 yards long, when the forward pass was no longer limited to a 20 yard zone from the line of scrimmage and was allowed to be caught in the end zone. 1912 was the birth of modern football.

1934- modern narrower circumference football was introduced, though Midwestern schools had used it already in 1933. When Cornell had gone out to play Michigan they called it the "Little Potatoes' ball" First changes had begun in 1931. As well, in 1928, some teams were using a ball with a "pronounced snout" known as a "Bootleg Football" which was severely restricted the next season.
*"Little Potatoes' Ball":- The more pointy new ball eliminated drop kick as it was virtually impossible to get the ball to stay up for the kick.

The "punt-out". Through 1919 following a TD there was a choice to be made. The ball was not centered in the field for the goal-after, but placed on the other side of the goal line, at the 15 yard line, from where the score had been made in the end zone, The PAT had to be tried from there no matter the acute angle to the goal posts nor side of the field. Or the scoring team could elect to punt-out, or kick-out. A free kick from the spot of the score, kicked to your own team for a fair catch to better position for the point(s) after. If the ball was not free-caught it was a free ball; anyone could recover and regular play continued.
*In 1920, the punt-out was eliminated and the ball centered on the field at the 2 (3 in 1929) for the PAT, as it has been ever since. Walter Camp bemoaned the loss of strategy and coaching eliminated in the PAT; making it automatic made it vestigial. Centering the ball for the try was especially criticized.

*American football with a numerical scoring system began 1883.

             FG  TD  PAT  S
1883         5   2   4   1
1884-1896    5   4   2   2
1897-1903    5   5   1   2
1904-1908    4   5   1   2
1909-1911    3   5   1   2
1912-1957    3   6   1   2
1958-1987    3   6 1or2  2
1988- now    3   6 1or2  2 + 2 points for defensive return of failed PAT.




Great Moments in Alabama High School Football History

Thomasville scored 54 points against Gulf Shores in the first quarter of a game in 2003. They managed to hang on for an 81-14 win.