How Long Does a High School Football Game Last? A Comprehensive Analysis (2023)


This Article was Reviewed by The Chief Editor, Godfrey

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High school football is currently among the most widely followed sporting events internationally. In the fall, millions of Americans tune in to cheer on their favorite team. 

But then, one may wonder and ask how long does a high school Football game last.

The games are thrilling because of the high stakes involved. It’s hard to ignore the significance of high school football games, whether or not you watch them.

Attending a high school football game is exciting whether you’re a student, parent, or fan. Have you ever thought about how long a high school football game lasts? 

This article provides a general overview of the topic of discourse: how long does a high school football game last and the factors that may affect it.

Factors That Determine The Length of a High School Football Game

Several factors can affect how long a high school football game lasts. The length of a high school football game can be affected by the following:

How Long Does a High School Football Game Last?

1. Game Regulations

The rules and criteria for high school football games are laid out in detail by a set of regulations. Different regulatory bodies, such as state athletic associations or interscholastic sports organizations, set these rules. 

Each quarter of a high school football game lasts for 12 minutes. The overall regulation time, including timeouts, could range from 48 to 60 minutes.

2. Game Delays

There are several potential causes for delays during a high school football game, which can affect the game’s duration. 

Game delays can occur due to severe weather, including lightning, thunderstorms, heavy rain, or extremely high temperatures.  

In the event of a severe injury to a player, play may be temporarily suspended. The players may need to be treated by doctors or emergency services before the game resumes. 

There may also be brief delays due to penalties, referee conferences, and replay reviews.

3. Offensive and Defensive Strategies

Another factor that determines how long a high school football game lasts is the teams’ playing styles and plans. Games tend to go more quickly when both teams favor passing, and neither team uses a huddle. 

Conversely, games featuring groups favoring ball control and a slower, run-heavy offense may go on longer than average.

How Long Does a High School Football Game Last?

4. Clock Management

The game’s length is sometimes decided by the coaches and their strategies for using the clock. 

Game length can be affected by tactics like intentionally throwing interceptions to slow down the clock. 

This can also be done by deliberately stalling by rushing the ball out of bounds. 

Time management is a skill that necessitates good judgment and game situational awareness. 

How Long Does A High School Football Game Last?

Several factors, such as competition level, regional or league differences, and the pace of the game, affect how long a typical high school football game lasts.

A high school football game, including halftime, should run about two to three hours. Though this feels like a long time, that period will feel like a blink of an eye during a high-stakes game. 

Each quarter of a high school football game typically lasts for 12 minutes. The overall regulation time ranges from 48 to 60 minutes, including timeouts. A high school’s halftime show may last between 10 and 20 minutes.

For instance, halftime shows with marching bands typically go on for a little longer than those without. That’s because some high school bands are pretty competitive and even have shows they perform at contests. 

That’s why it’s common for a high school football game to go on for a little longer than usual. However, an NFL game is usually longer than a high school football game, where each quarter lasts a full 15 minutes.

Also, athletes in high school cannot be compared to NFL or college football players. As they are still maturing physically and mentally, they are not yet ready to compete at the same level as professional athletes. 

Key Moments In A High School Football Game To Look Out For

There are a few highlights of a high school football game that fans shouldn’t miss. Being there for these situations is wonderful because they can drastically change the game’s outcome. 

It is essential to look for moments that affect how long a high school football game lasts.

How Long Does a High School Football Game Last?

They include:

1. Overtime

High school football games can go into overtime if there is a tie at the end of regulation time. Each team in high school football is given one possession starting from the ten-yard line. 

A second overtime period is played if both teams score or if neither team scores. This pattern will continue until a winner has been determined. However, each team receives one possession from the 25-yard line in college and NFL football.

 In the event of a tie or a scoreless extra period, the following overtime period will be played according to sudden death rules. Therefore, the first team to score wins the game, even on a field goal.

2. Halftime

At the end of the second quarter, high school football teams take a much-needed break for halftime. When the game ends, the players return to the locker room. They get around 10 to 20 minutes of halftime to regroup and plan their second-half offensive and defensive strategies. 

The halftime performance is another factor that can extend or shorten the game’s duration. For some schools, halftime is prolonged by performances by marching bands, dance teams, or cheerleading squads. 

3. Quarter 

Quater is a term used to describe one of the four equal halves of a high school football game. Their length is relative to the level of football played. 

How Long Does a High School Football Game Last?
How Long Does a High School Football Game Last?

Quarters in high school football last for a total of 12 minutes. Nonetheless, there may be minor distinctions based on league or state laws.

All teams can build or restore momentum at the beginning of each quarter. A high school football game consists of 48 minutes of actual play time.

What is The Recommended Time For a High School Football Game?

Below is a list of the recommended time for a football game according to the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, mainly used for competitive soccer games. This time represents how long a football game last at each level.

This set of guidelines was created to guarantee that games were of a suitable length and that players could grow appropriately. They include:

1. Under-19

Typically, game lengths are based on the size of an adult soccer match, which consists of two 45-minute halves and a 15-minute halftime break.

2. Under-16

U14 games typically consist of two 40-minute halves separated by a halftime break of 15 minutes.

3. Under-14

Games for this age group are recommended to be split into two halves of 35 minutes each. Additionally, two 10-minute halves of overtime are mentioned in the U.S. Youth Soccer rules.

4. Under-12

U.S. Youth Soccer recommends two halves of 30 minutes each for players of this age. There can be two 10-minute halves during overtime. However, this is used sparingly in young soccer teams.

5. Under-10

Each half of a U10 game typically lasts 25 minutes, and there is a short halftime break for coaching and player changes.

6. Under-8

U.S. Youth Soccer recommends a four-quarter format, each quarter lasting 12 minutes for this age level. 

7. Under-6

U.S. Youth Soccer suggests four quarters of 6 minutes each, with no overtime for this age group.

How Long Does a High School Football Game Last?

Why do High School Football Games Take so Long?

High school football games are drawn out because of all the downtime between plays. One explanation is that high school players require more breaks than professional athletes. 

They can’t compete at the same level as professional athletes because they are still developing physically and mentally. Therefore, a game with quarters lasting 12 minutes should be long enough to be competitive and entertaining. 

Another contributing factor is that the clock also stops more frequently in high school games than in the NFL, which is a contributing factor. 

The clock stops in the NFL when a pass is incomplete or a player goes out of bounds. However, the clock is also stopped in high school games after touchdowns and first downs.


High school football games are exciting events that unite communities and highlight young athletes’ hard work and devotion. 

A high school football game may last two to three hours, depending on several factors.

High school football games may only last a few hours, but their significance lasts a lifetime. It’s proof that sports can unite, motivate, and leave an impression on their audiences for years to come. 


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About the Chief Editor

Godfrey Ogbo, the Chief Editor and CEO of AtlanticRide, merges his environmental management expertise with extensive business experience, including in real estate. With a master's degree and a knack for engaging writing, he adeptly covers complex growth and business topics. His analytical approach and business insights enrich the blog, making it a go-to source for readers seeking thoughtful and informed content.

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