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GHSA moves basketball quarterfinals to neutral sites
Football contact rules also approved at Monday meeting
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The Georgia High School Association is moving its basketball quarterfinals back to neutral sites following a vote at Monday’s state executive committee meeting.

Even though his team was one of two Hall County teams who hosted fellow region champions in the 2014-15 quarterfinals after winning coin tosses, East Hall boys coach Joe Dix said he’s glad to see the change.

The Vikings faced Laney in the Class AAA quarterfinals in Gainesville. While the Wildcats won 92-67, they had to make a trip of more than two and a half hours from Augusta even though both teams were No. 1 seeds.

“Neither one of us did anything to deserve that,” said Dix of hosting the quarterfinal.

Dix is in favor of the whole state tournament being at neutral sites, but acknowledged that “I don’t think we’re going to get that wish.”

“I’m OK with us trying to move back toward some neutral sites,” Dix said. “The elite eight is a great starting point.”

Johnson’s boys, undefeated at the time, won a coin toss to secure a home game with eventual state champion Jonesboro in the AAAA quarterfinals. Knights coach Jeff Steele and Jonesboro coach Daniel Maehlman explored the possibility of playing at Georgia State to accommodate more fans before the game was ultimately played at Johnson.

While Steele didn’t like the bracketing that put his team against Jonesboro so early, he expressed gratefulness for Monday’s move.

“I’m glad that they made this decision to go back to the way that it was,” Steele said. “I hope they’ll go a few steps further.”

He noted how Johnson’s boys and girls teams both played in round-of-16 games at Marietta High in 2005 and said it’s good for a school’s fans to not have to choose which team to support.

FOOTBALL CONTACT RULES APPROVED: Another item voted in by the GHSA at Monday’s meeting included restrictions on full contact in football practices.

The changes mandate full contact in no more than two consecutive practice days during pre-season or in-season workouts, with only one practice in two-a-days allowed to feature full contact. They also limited full contact to no more than three days in an in-season week.

The rules also define full contact and limit it to 45 minutes per day and 135 minutes weekly in the preseason and 30 minutes daily and 90 minutes weekly during the season.

West Hall coach Tony Lotti said the full contact rules are more a way of putting in writing what most programs are already doing, comparing it to the heat protocols previously put in place by the GHSA to ensure player safety.

He said the Spartans’ practices are streamlined to run like college practices anyway and that the latest measures follow the lead of college and the NFL.

“We’re always trying to look at ways to make sure we’re teaching and promoting the safety of our kids first,” Lotti said.

Part of the reason coaches already limit contact in practice is to avoid injuries. While Lotti said the new measures are helpful in that process, he said they won’t affect Fridays.

“There’s no limit on contact there,” Lotti said.

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