The eight new rules, which encompass helmet infractions, the interpretation of a legal fair catch, corporate advertising and commercial markings on the field of play, clarification to blocking below the waist and the prohibition of making contact during the kickoff, have been implemented for this season, along with other rules that pertain to certain types of equipment no longer being allowed to be utilized by players.
Holladay stated that many of the new rules are among those that have already been initiated by the NFL and the NCAA.
“It’s always a trend that you see — if there’s a rule change that happens at the pro level, you are eventually going to see it cascade down to the college level and later to our level in high school,” Holladay said.
“Some of these rule changes address safety issues, while others clarify or modify existing rules based upon situations that have arisen and caused confusion. It’s not always easy to adapt to the changes — in some cases we have to modify the way we run certain plays, practice and execute on game days, but a new change comes every year and we have to simply adapt to it and make sure our players do as well.”
Other rule changes implemented by the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) have been introduced regulating summer two-a-day practices, as well as the more prominent Concussion Law that has been passed where a participant suspected of having a concussion must be immediately removed from participation and not allowed to return until they have been cleared by a physician.
Holladay indicated that this year’s Walker squad has fewer seniors that the two previous years — both which had over 20 on the roster. He stated the team’s focus has been on developing better fundamentals through summer practice.
“This season we only have 15 seniors, which have done a good job of providing leadership to our younger players,” Holladay said. “What we’ve been working on is getting better at the small things. We’ve had a good week of practice and great workouts thus far — we’re excited about the group that we have and the year coming up. I don’t know how good we are going to be in terms of wins and loses, but it’s going to be a fun year for these kids. They’ve worked hard this summer and that usually lends itself to success on the field.”
Walker’s 2012 schedule presents a definite challenge with six playoff contenders on both the region and non-region slate.
Although defending state champion Hartselle has moved off the schedule with a move to Region 8, the Vikings will have to contend with formidable Region 6 opponents in Curry, as well as newcomers Pinson Valley and Center Point — who all advanced to postseason play in 2011. The non-region slate will prove equally as difficult, with former Region 6 member Cullman joining Russellville and Class 6A Hueytown on the schedule.
“There’s a lot of good talent across the board when you look at the teams we’ll be playing,” Holladay said. “It’s a good schedule for us — we’ll have to work hard and do our best week in and week out.”