4 Down Canadian Football

OK - can somebody tell me - when did our high schools go to four down football? I hadn't been to a high school football game in years but went to see my nephew play this afternoon. Absolutely gorgeous field for a high school with brand new artificial turf at St Jean de Brebeuf Secondary here in Hamilton hosting St. Mary's.

A scary afternoon of junior high school football though as when we arrived there was already a player injured on the field being immobilized and an ambulance came to take him to hospital. Same thing happened again midway through the third quarter as again another player - with an apparent neck injury - was on the field immobilized for 20 minutes until an ambulance arrived. They decided to call the game at that point as they were already running beyond the start time for the senior game. Scary stuff.

But that is not the main point of my post. I was surprised to see they were playing 4 down football. When did that start?

(Here's a look at the beautiful field - with what was unfortunately too common a scene today.)


Even coloured Canadian sized end zones - but wiith American style 4 downs.


I don't know the high school scene but I guess part of the thinking is scholarships to US universities where the kids would be more familiar with the systems and also 3 downs is simply a more difficult game obviously due to one less down to get a first down so it puts a bit more pressure on the qb and qb's in high school are generally not very good really especially in Canada where many kids don't play kids football because of lack of leagues and lack of emphasis on football overall compared with the US, easier for them to hand off more often and make shorter passes.

4 downs! Not cool. I may need correcting, but doesnt high school football in BC play 4-downs also, and even on the American sized field?

I played high school ball in Calgary, where we were lucky enough to play straight-up Canadian rules!

Just more inferiority complex Canadians who don't realize the better game.

When I asked one of the other parents at the game - he said it was explained to him that they did it because some teams not quite as strong on offence were finding it almost impossible to get first downs against some better defenses - so at least they could put some drives together with four down football whereas it was nothing but punts when 3 downs.

I'm not sure if there is any truth to that.

3 downs on the Prairies. Can you easterners get with it :smiley:

In the GTA when I back high school...many many years ago they played a 4 down on a CFL sized field too. I've always thought it was a strange concept.

At the same time, I wouldn't mind seeing it in an exhibition game plus to see the 3 down version played on an NFL sized field. Just one game for each.

We were playing 4 down when I was in highschool back in the 90s. Simply put, highschool offences struggle (in Ontario at least), as many players are playing tackle football for the first time in highschool, and not going through junior ranks. Lower player quality favors defences, which you could certainly see it at the start of this season with Ottawa coming back into the league. However, because at the highschool level it’s an activity, not a job, some form of equalizer was put into it, and that was the extra down. No Yards and other Canadian rules still apply.

Out west, I’m sure more kids go through the junior system, so the push back onto 3 downs happens quicker.

You are correct, all HS ball in BC is 4 down. Not sure of it’s origins but I’ve been told it went back to the late 40’s and early 50’s before the Lions existed, when there was no 3 down ball out there to speak of…sights turned south and the 4 down ball (and it’s pure NHFS US HS rules too, no hybrid stuff like down east) has been the norm every since.

All football below and above is 3 down Cdn rules (with the exception of SFU who left for the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference) so a kid plays 3 down ball in Atom, PW, bantam and Midget/Juv, 4 down for HS and then back to 3 down for Junior and CIS.

The prairies are all 3 down and down east is mostly 3 down with some hybrid 3/4 down ball here and there…don’t know about out east.

4 downs is an offensive coach's dream when he doesn't have access to great athletes. And high school is very waterered down football especially in Canada where even guys like me did well, and I wasn't that great of an athlete. A lot of high schools when I grew up had phys ed teachers trying to coax anyone to try out for football for sheer lack of bodies in "training camp", well don't think the phrase "training camp" is used for high school ball but you get my drift. :wink: Give me the 4 down system in this case, I remember one high school who recruited a baseball pitcher at the school, wasn't interested in football but they had no one who could actually throw a football hardly at all trying out for the team. :o A lot of baseball guys in Canada are too afraid to don football pads and that really cuts down on who is trying out for qb on a high school team.

As much as I prefer football over baseball for entertainment, if I have a golden arm, I will go for baseball, less risky for injury to make the "bigs" and big money.

that 4 down thing here in bc has ticked me off for a long time.

Never got to play it because my high school didn't even have a football team.

OTOH, when playing touch ball, sometimes we would play 4 downs for the field.

Our High school league in my part of the GTA, plays 4 downs for the JR teams, grade 9 and 10 and 3 downs for the SR teams, grade 11 and 12. All the rest of the rules are all CFL rules, and it is because the offence finds it hard to put drives together on 3 downs.

Cant imagine an average offense having such a problem with that, unless of course I am on the defense :slight_smile:

That is an awesome field for high school football!! Where is that?

It is a St. Jean de Brebeuf Secondary School in Hamilton.

With the way things are going this season in the CFL, it wouldnt be a bad idea. Howeve it would be just another down to drop a pass and reason to commit even more penalties... Lol

I heard Farjan Lalji talking about that. He says Lower Mainland high school teams began playing 4-down ball because, geography made it easier to play tournaments against American teams than other schools in BC. Not sure I completely buy that.

tonights offenses sure could have used another couple of downs to get 10 yards.

There are two fields just as good, if not better, within 10 minutes. The Hamilton Catholic School Board has put a lot into their fields recently. St. Thomas More (one of the best teams in the country the last few years) and Bishop Ryan, both have got new fields within the last 2-3 years. Bishop Ryan’s just got installed a few months ago. Fully turfed, under the lights, scoreboard, grandstands, the works. Amazing how they can find the money to afford such things, really.

Correct me if I am wrong but I am pretty positive that BC also plays straight US HS football rules with US sized field as well.