The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

February 14, 2013

10 new rule changes for high school football

Sports Correspondent
Van Holland

ROCKY MOUNT — The National Federation of State High School Associations Football Rules Committee met for three days in Indianapolis and discussed rule changes for the upcoming high school football season.

The committee is looking to minimize the risk of injury in high school football and three additional rules will take effect this upcoming season that will address helmets coming off of players' heads during games.

A follow-up to last year's rules change that requires a player to sit out one play if their helmet comes off while the ball is still live. The committee approved three additional rules that are extensions of last year's changes.

In Rule 9-4-3 an illegal personal contact foul was added and states that "no player or non-player shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has completely off."

In addition, a new listing in Rule 9-6-4 will state that it is illegal participation for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which a player is engaged.

The committee also added language to Rule 3-5-10 to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down and is not directly attributed to a foul by the opponent – the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs and official's timeout shall be called.

Perhaps the most significant rules change next season will be one that reduces the penalty for pass interference. While the 15-yard penalty will remain for both offensive and defensive pass interference, the loss of down has been removed for offensive pass interference and the automatic first down has been eliminated for defensive pass interference.

Another change at high school football games will be the expanded use of communication devices. In specific situations coaches, players and non-players will be allowed to use any form of communication technology. The expansion of the rule does allow use of communication devices for authorized conferences outside of the nine-yard marks. Also on the sidelines and during halftime. It is still prohibited for a player to use communication devices outside the nine-yard marks except for conferences.

In Rule 2-4-1, the committee clarified the rule approved last year regarding definition of a completed catch. It states that a receiver is required to establish possession of the ball and contact the ground inbounds while maintaining possession regardless of the opponent's action.

In Rule 9-3-8, the committee added another provision to the rule enacted last year regarding contact by the kicking team against members of the receiving team. The new provision stipulates that the kicking team may initiate contact once the receiving team has initiated a block within the neutral zone.

In Rule 8-3-3, the committee clarified that the touchdown scoring team is the only team that can score on a try and in in Rule 1-5-3 the committee modified the rule regarding players wearing towels.

Football is the most widely sport that is participated in by high school athletes, boys and girls. There were over 1.1 million players in 2011-2012 and there were 1,805 girls who played. These stats are according to the High School Athletics participation survey that was conducted by the NFHS through its members.