The National Federation of State High School Associations’ Football Rules Committee recently made five rule changes for high school football for the fall 2018 season. All changes were subsequently approved by the federation’s board of directors.
Perhaps the key rule change is that players in high school football who are detected with missing or improperly-worn equipment during playing action will be removed from the game for at least one down — unless the improper equipment is directly attributable to a foul by the opponent.
The new rule also states that if the player is wearing otherwise legal equipment in an illegal manner, the participant also must be replaced for one down.
If proper and legal equipment has become improperly worn through use during the game, and prompt repair does not delay the ready-for-play signal for more than 25 seconds, the repair can be made without replacing the player for one down.
In a related change, the head coach is responsible for verifying that all players are legally equipped and will not use illegal equipment. The penalty provisions for any use of illegal equipment remain unchanged and result in an unsportsmanlike foul charged to the head coach.
Another rule change provides another option for teams on fouls committed by the kicking team during free kicks and scrimmage kicks. Now, the receiving team can accept a five-yard penalty from the succeeding spot.
The previous three options remain: Accepting a five-yard penalty from the previous spot and having the kicking team re-kick; Putting the ball in play at the inbounds spot 25 yards beyond the previous spot; or Declining the penalty and putting the ball in play at the inbounds spot. The idea is to reduce the amount of repeated free kicks.
The third change approved by the committee clarified that defenseless player provisions do not apply to a passer until a legal forward pass is thrown. The passer continues to be a defenseless player until the pass ends or the passer moves to participate in the play.
The committee also changed the signal for free-kick infractions, other than encroachment of the neutral zone.
The final change approved by the committee concerned the timing rule between periods and intermission for six-player football, which has been standardized to match the current rules for eight-player, nine-player and 11-player football.
A complete listing of the rules changes is available on the federation’s website at www.nfhs.org. Click on “Activities & Sports” at the top of the home page and select “Football.”
Special to The Herald