Fifth annual Georgia Elite Classic will test-run challenges, use of instant replay

By Craig Sager II

A historic test-run of the use of instant replay and coaches’ challenges at the high school level will take place at this year’s Georgia Elite Classic on Dec. 28 at McEachern’s Cantrell Stadium. The annual all-star showcase will introduce several other new rules to its record-setting four-game lineup, but none bigger or more interesting than giving each head coach the opportunity to challenge calls on the field for the first time.

This is how it will work.

Each team will have a chance to challenge one play per half, which will be shown on the video board at McEachern. There will be at least two cameras on every play, and the head coaches will be given red flags to throw and also vocally have to let the white hat know they are challenging the play before the start of the next one. The white hat will watch the replay on the video board and make his decision. The game is using NFL rules, so if the play is overturned, no timeout will be taken away. If the play is not overturned, the team that challenged will lose a timeout.

Instant replay and the coaches’ challenges has brought “what ifs” and heated debates into the high school football world ever since the NFL introduced them in 1999. College initiated its own version in 2006, but Georgia high school football still seems a long way from instituting an instant replay equipment standard that could work with the 400-plus programs across the Peach State. Nonetheless, featuring the technology for the first time at the Georgia Elite Classic will put it to the test in a big way. Not only is this the largest all-star game in the country this year with over 400 prospects, but more than 170 different Georgia high schools will have players represented in this year’s event to experience the test run first hand.

With so many prospects, the classic has felt the need to expand each quarter from 12 to 15 minutes so players get more snaps and exposure. There will also be a two-minute warning before each half for the first time. The halftimes of each game have been revamped this year as well, and there will be a 15-minute break and kicking competition held among the four kickers in each game. Each team’s long snapper will participate in the competition and snap to a holder, and a live emcee will announce the contest from the field. Each kicker will get a warmup kick from the 25-yard line, and then it will be sudden-death elimination from then on, with each kick increasing in 5-yard increments.

In-game field goals have their own set of rules. The defensive alignment for all field goals and extra points must be 4-3.

Here are some of the other all-star game specific rules: On defense, only tackles and ends may rush, and the middle linebacker and outside linebacker must be 2 yards off the line of scrimmage and may not rush. The defense may not rush the punter either.

All missed field goals, regardless of where the ball is blown dead, will be placed on the 30-yard line. Punts will be downed at the spot of the catch or the place where it is ruled dead.

On kickoffs, the ball will be kicked off from the 35-yard line. Kickoffs that cross the goal line are dead, and the ball will automatically be spotted on the 30-yard line.

Tickets to the Georgia Elite Classic can be purchased online for $8 HERE and will be available for $10 at the gates on game day. All games will be streamed on the NFHS Network.

Thursday, Dec. 28

Freshman Game – 10 a.m.
Sophomore Game – 12:30 p.m.
Junior Game – 3 p.m.
Senior Game – 5:30 p.m.