The 2012-13 fall sports season officially began this week, when approximately 110,000 student-athletes in Michigan begin practice in eight sports regulated by the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA).
Practicce began for Michgan's football players on Monday, followed by all other fall sports — from cross country to boys tennis — on Wednesday.
Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game. For the Lakers, the varsity team plays their first game of the season at home Aug. 24 against Jackson High School.
The varsity team from , meanwhile, will travel to Muskegon High School Aug. 24 for their first game. The Eaglets' first home game is scheduled for Sept. 7 against Mississauga (Ont.) St. Marcellinus.
Before the first whistle, the Greater West Bloomfield area's student football players will have to pay attention to several significant rule changes for the 2012 season:
- On passing plays, a receiver must first contact and establish control of the ball while inbounds – regardless of the opponent’s action. In other words, a catch cannot be ruled on plays where the receiver may have come down in bounds if not for the action of the defender.
- If a player’s helmet comes off during a play, and did not occur as a result of a foul by the opponent, that player must leave the game for one play, unless it happens on the final play of a half or an overtime.
- Hand contact by a blocker below the waist of a defender is now considered blocking below the waist.
- The kicking team may not contact a member of the receiving team on a kickoff until the ball has traveled 10 yards, or unless a member of the receiving team initiates the contact.
- Jerseys of the visiting team must be white in color, and home jerseys are restricted in the use of white for varsity competition. This was a rule change made in 2007 for implementation this season.
The 2012 fall campaign culminates with post-season tournaments beginning Oct. 1, and wraps up with the football playoff finals on Nov. 23-24.