NFHS approves football rules changes

February 13, 2015 / Football
The National Federation of State High School Associations recently modified its rules for football in the organization’s ongoing effort to reduce the risk of player injury.

The NFHS approved a handful of rules changes for prep football.
The NFHS approved a handful of rules changes for prep football.

The most notable change is expanding the provisions of unnecessary roughness to include contact with a defenseless player. The rule now states, “No player or non-player shall make any contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player, which is deemed unnecessary or excessive and which incites roughness.”

Consider the number of times quarterbacks have taken brutal hits after throwing an interception as they stand on the opposite side of the field watching the play unfold. It’s a live play and quarterbacks should be aware of their surroundings, but it sounds like officials will be given more latitude on penalizing those types of hits.

Other changes approved by the NFHS:

• The rules committee more clearly defined “spearing” as contact to an opponent at the shoulders or below. The rule was first put in place in 1971, and NFHS Director of Sports and Sports Medicine Bob Colgate said it has played a significant role in the reduction of injuries.

• The committee revised the 2014 rule change regarding free-kick formations. The rule now states that the timing of the foul for not having at least four players on each side of the kicker now occurs when the ball is kicked.

• Beginning next season, an automatic first down will not be awarded for a 5-yard incidental face mask penalty against the passer. This violation was previously included in the penalty for roughing the passer, which calls for a 15-yard penalty and automatic first down.

• Regarding dead-ball fouls, the distance penalty for unsportsmanlike, non-player or dead-ball personal fouls committed by teams can offset.

• A new rule states, “The referee shall have the authority to correct the number of the next down prior to a new series of downs being awarded.”

Click here to read the complete release from the NFHS.

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