Yes, high school football is back, and it all begins with a jamboree. A football jamboree brings together multiple football teams to scrimmage each other in preparation for the upcoming season.
The number of teams involved and the formats of the jamborees vary by state and region.
However, all jamborees signal to players, fans, and coaches alike that FOOTBALL IS BACK!!!
I’m Tracy, a former high school edge rusher and student of the game for more than twenty years. I’ve participated in three jamborees as a player and many more as a fan of my local team.
In this post, I’ll provide you with insight into the many benefits jamborees offer. I’ll also expose you to jamboree variations across different states.
Let’s get smarter!
- Football jamborees serve three enormous functions: acclimate players to perform in front of crowds, measure teams against their competition, and enable properly finalized rosters.
- I examined football jamborees across five states: North Carolina, Washington, Kansas, Missouri, and Oregon.
- While states differ in the formats of their jamborees, all reach a shared, desired result.
What is the Purpose of a Jamboree?
While the fans of your high school football team mistakenly believe that the only purpose for a football jamboree is to reunite with old friends and engage in non-stop partying, we athletes know better.
Football jamborees serve legitimate purposes that can make or break a team’s season.
Let’s examine the benefits that jamborees provide:
Acclimate Players to Perform in Front of Crowd
In high school football, there is significant turnover every year.
Many varsity starters for the upcoming season have never played in front of large, raucous crowds.
The jamboree exposes these players to the largest crowd they will likely see all season.
The pressure of performing in front of large crowds cannot be simulated in practice, and the jamboree gives them a taste of what they can expect on Friday nights. 
Measure Team Against Competition
Before the jamboree and any scrimmages, high school football teams only conditioned and practiced against their own players.
The Jamboree provides an opportunity for the players and coaches to evaluate themselves against their competition before they play games that count.
Changes are made before the season if you perform poorly at the jamboree.
Mark Goldenberg, former head football coach at Parkway Central High School in Chesterfield, Missouri, states, “After a full summer of workouts and two weeks of practice against the same people, it’s going to be nice to find out where you are. For a lot of our kids, it’s their first time experiencing varsity football. It’ll be good for them to see the speed of the game and how it is played at that level.” 
Coaches Finalize Rosters at Jamboree
The Jamboree is an excellent opportunity for players to see something new.
In addition, the event gives coaches a chance to see how their players fare against different competitions.
As one Kansas high school football coach said at his team’s jamboree, “We’ve got a few spots that we’re not completely sure about as far as the starting lineup goes. Tonight will go a long way in defining that for us.” 
The video below is from August 12, 2022, Charleston County School District Football Jamboree on Robert E. Hayes Field at the District 2 Regional Stadium in Mount Pleasant.
In the video, the coaches indicate the importance of the jamboree:
Format of Jamboree
I scrutinized football jamborees across five states: North Carolina, Washington, Kansas, Missouri, and Oregon.
Interestingly, each state conducts its jamboree in a slightly different manner.
I summarize my findings below:
A jamboree typically involves each team facing multiple teams.
North Carolina is the only state analyzed where this was not the case.
Eight teams attended the HighSchoolOT Jamboree at Wake Forest High School in North Carolina, but each team faced only one opponent.
In addition, the HighSchoolOT Jamboree is the only jamboree to use the entire 100-yard football field (all other jamborees only require one-half of the football field at most).
A coin toss determines who gets the ball first. Then, each team starts with the ball on the opposite 20-yard line. There are no kickoffs.
Teams have four downs to pick up a first down, score a touchdown, punt the ball away, attempt a field goal, or turn the ball over on downs.
Each game consists of two 24-minute halves with a running clock. 
I delved into this ten-team jamboree in Washington :
Each of the ten teams faced four other teams.
Each offense started at the 40-yard line and ran 10 plays. If they scored or turned the ball over before the 10th play, they re-started at the 40. After 10 plays, the offense moved to defense against the same opponent.
This was repeated three additional times against three different teams.
Hence, at the end of the jamboree, each team ran a total of 40 offensive and defensive plays, but no official score was kept. 
According to KSHSAA, Jamborees consist of three to four teams who have practiced for a minimum of 10 days prior to the event.
Each school runs a maximum of 36 offensive plays during the event.
If there are four teams at the jamboree, each team runs 12 offensive plays against the other three teams.
If there are three teams at the jamboree, then each team runs 18 offensive plays against the other two teams.
Kansas proved unique in that the coaches determined from where the offenses would start running plays, as opposed to every possession beginning at a specific position on the field (See Washington above). 
I examined the August 19, 2022, Worth County, Missouri Football Jamboree that consisted of four teams. 
Each of the four teams executed 12 offensive plays against the other three, resulting in 36 offensive plays running during the jamboree.
Each contest begins with the ball on one team’s own 15-yard line. Turnovers reset the ball and start a new drive.
One offense runs all 12 plays. After these 12 plays, the offense moves to defense against the same opponent.
This was repeated two additional times against two different teams. 
I explored this three-team football jamboree in Oregon:
The format for jamborees in Oregon is almost identical to those in Kansas in that either three or four teams must be present.
In a jamboree, each team runs a total of 36 offensive snaps from the line of scrimmage. In addition, any kicking play (e.g., punt, extra point, field goal) counts as an offensive snap.
- Four-team format – Twelve offensive snaps against each opponent – 36 total snaps.
- Three-team format – Eighteen offensive snaps against each opponent – 36 total snaps.
- Contests played on a 40-yard field. NFHS/OSAA rules will be in effect.
- At the start of each session, the ball is spotted on the 40-yard line. The offensive team will attempt to drive to its respective goal line. First downs can be gained.
- If a team scores a touchdown, it may attempt an extra point(s) or decline.
- If a team scores a touchdown, fails to gain a first down or turns the ball over to the defense, the ball will be returned to the 40-yard line, where the offense starts with a first down. 
Imagine you are a high school football player dragging yourself through the 95-degree days of August only to perform the same drills hundreds of times.
You have serious doubts regarding whether the football season will ever arrive.
Or if you will be alive to see it.
In the distance, you see an oasis……just kidding…….it’s not quite that bad!
You think to yourself, “This is B.S. I came to play football!”
When you can tolerate nothing more, you hear the two words that make the pain and agony you have endured worthwhile: FOOTBALL JAMBOREE!!!