Continuing to focus on safety, the National Federation of State High School Assn. Football Rules Committee announced six changes on Friday.
One of the changes expands the provision on unnecessary roughness to include contact with a defenseless player.
The revised rule now reads, “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.”
Bob Colgate, director of sports and sports medicine at the NFHS and editor of the NFHS football rules, noted that an example would be when a defensive player who is not in the vicinity of the ball is “blindsided” by a blocker on the offensive team.
Another change is a revision of the spearing rule. Spearing will be defined as “an act by any player who initiates contact against an opponent at the shoulders or below with the crown (top portion) of his helmet.”
“The committee spent considerable time discussing and clarifying expectations related to contact involving any player that is deemed excessive or unnecessary – including spearing – that may occur during play,” said Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association. “Minimizing risks to players involved in these situations must remain at the forefront of the game.”
In other changes, the rules committee revised the 2014 rule change regarding free-kick formations. A new Rule 6-1-4 was added to state 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.
A change also was made in the listing of penalties in Rule 9-4, Illegal Personal Contact. Beginning next season, an automatic first down will not be awarded for a 5-yard incidental face mask penalty against the passer. Previously, this violation was included in the penalty for roughing the passer, which calls for a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.
Football is the most popular sport for high school students, with 1,093,234 participants in 11-man football, according to the 2013-14 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey.