How Long Is High School Football Game? (Mercy Rule, FAQs)

High school football games are more significant than they seem.

These are phases where college recruiters can assess players they need on their respective teams.

College recruiters always consider a player’s ability to perform at high levels for an extended period consistently.

However, as a spectator only coming to enjoy games, you will desire to know how long the game will even last.

This article will tell you everything about high school football games.

How Long Do High School Football Games Last?

According to statistics compiled from most high schools in the United States, football games at high schools always last 2 to 2.5 hours.

Every quarter of the game lasts approximately 12 minutes before the quarter finishes.

Fans that come to watch high school football games are also treated to halftime shows that take place at the end of the second quarter before the third quarter begins.

The halftime show can take 10 to 20 minutes in some high schools.

On the other hand, even though high school football games take a lot of time, they don’t take as much time as NFL games or those that take place in colleges due to the reduced number of breaks.

Moreover, since the games are not televised, there is no need to add advertisement times to the program.

The quarters don’t last as long as what is encountered in the NFL, which is quite understandable as high school students are not professionals.

So it’s simple: if you are going to see a high school football game, be ready to sacrifice more than two hours of your time to do so.

Is The Mercy Rule Observed In High School Football Games?

Most high schools don’t observe the mercy rule when playing games.

“Mercy rule” is a term used to describe a situation where one team is completely ahead of the other by several points.

In this case, the margin between the two teams is so vast that it is nearly impossible for one team to level the scoreboard.

The officials of the game can then decide to trigger the mercy rule to keep the score even more respectable.

They can either activate it in a way that brings the game to an instant end, or they may allow the team to complete a play when the clock stops running.

The mercy rule enables the game to end instantly, especially since the losing team mathematically has no hope of overturning its deficit.

Whenever the mercy rule is triggered, it cuts down on the time one will spend seeing a high school football game.

What Makes The Duration Of High School Football Games Shorter than The NFL?

If you’re a big fan of the NFL and you rarely miss games, you don’t need a sorcerer to tell you that high school games are far shorter than those in the NFL.

Below are some of the factors that bring about this:

1. Informality

High school football games are shorter than the NFL because they are less formal than professional games.

In the NFL, all professional players give their very best because the price is high, and they are paid to do so.

Also, college football games last even longer than high school football games because they allow coaches to show the school management that they are doing a great job.

On the part of players, they get the opportunity to become the stars of the show, which could land them a place on a good NFL team, especially if scouts are around, and they also get to experience what it is like to play NFL games.

Moreover, high school football games do not last as long as college games and NFL games because many players don’t take them seriously, so they may find it hard to stay motivated for a long time.

Also, some high school coaches are not overly concerned with what is going on on the pitch, as they only take up the job as a form of leisure.

2. Absence of TV adverts

Another major factor that makes high school football games shorter than professional NFL games is the absence of TV advertisements.

This greatly differs from what is experienced in college and professional games.

However, this is not surprising because college and NFL teams are bankrolled by companies and brands, so there is always a time when they are promoted.

Broadcasters also use commercials to generate more income, making them show several throughout a game.

This is why commercial breaks are a non-brainer in professional or college games. It also explains why games can be paused halfway for commercials.

On the other hand, several high schools don’t get to show their games on TV. However, the few high schools that do this don’t pause advertisements.

Since there are probably no commercials to show, there are always no pauses between games. This makes the game finish faster and keeps its total duration at a minimum of two hours.

3. Halftime shows

In several instances, high school football games don’t last as long as college football games because they don’t spend much time on halftime shows.

This is because high school football games don’t carry the same exciting aura as college or NFL games, so many people are less excited when it is time for halftime shows.

It is understood that halftime shows in between any high school football game do not even last close to 13 minutes, which is the average time frame for halftime shows in college, and NFL games, bar the Super Bowl, where the halftime show can last up to 30 minutes.

4. Player Welfare

High school games are always shorter than college games due to the welfare of the players.

Since most high school players are children who are not even up to the age of 13 in most cases, they lack the physical ability and athleticism to match the endurance of professionals or even college-level players.

Moreover, forcing high school students to put in a lot of effort in a football game can have a devastating effect on their bodies, leading to a complete or partial breakdown that will hinder them from giving their best during games.

This can prevent them from winning the attention of NFL or college scouts.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) On How Long High School Football Game Lasts

What is the duration of a professional football game?

An NFL game lasts for at least three hours in total. However, this is due to the several breaks taken throughout the game to allow for commercials to be played, and the halftime shows to be displayed.

Can a football game end early?

Yes, a football game can end prematurely if the officials decide to activate the mercy rule. The mercy rule can only be triggered when one side gains an insurmountable lead over the other, and the difference in class between the two sides is clear for all to see.

Can the “Mercy Rule” be applied in high school?

Yes, the “Mercy Rule” is applied during some high school games.

What is the standard duration of a football game with zero breaks?

If no breaks are taken, a football game is supposed to last for 60 minutes, running over four different quarters of 15 minutes each.


Without a doubt, high school football games last for at least 2 hours or 2.5 hours.

This is way below the duration of a college or NFL game.

However, high school football games don’t last as long as college and NFL games because high school football is less formal than college and NFL games; there are no commercial breaks; halftime shows don’t even last as long as college and NFL games; and the players do not have the endurance and physical strength to play for as long as college players and professionals.

Moreover, when watching any high school game, ensure you make the most of every opportunity.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

Editor’s Recommendations:

If you find this article good, please share it with a friend.

Abasiofon Fidelis
Abasiofon Fidelis

Abasiofon Fidelis is a professional writer who loves to write about college life and college applications. He has been writing articles for over 3 years. He is the Content Manager at School and Travel.

Articles: 602