The National Federation of High Schools, as usual, changed some of the rules for the upcoming season.
Many of the rule changes are minor modifications as in other years, but a couple of them are changes that the coaches will have to emphasize as they are kick-off related changes.
The first change listed is a minor one, but one that was more often enforced than one might think.
The rules committee voted to allow solid colored moisture absorbing towels to be worn by players.
They may not be the color of the football or penalty flag and can have only one visible manufacturer’s logo or trademark which cannot exceed 2 ¼ square inches.
Towels worn by teammates must be the same color. Previously the towel had to be white with no markings.
The committee stepped into the electronic age by allowing all kinds of communications during an authorized conference outside the nine-yard marks on the sidelines and during halftime.
Use of communications devices by players outside the nine-yard marks except during time outs continues to be prohibited.
A catch was clarified to be good at the spot of the catch if an airborne player catches a ball and is carried out of bounds by the tackling opponent before touching the ground.
Several of the changes have to do with players and their helmets.
First, if a player’s helmet comes off during the down or the subsequent dead ball action related to the down and it is not attributable to a foul by the opponent, the player must leave the game for at least one down.
This is an official’s time out.
The second new rule pertaining to helmets is an illegal personal contact foul.
This would be charged to any player who initiates contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.
In a related helmet rule it is now illegal participation (15 yards) for a player without a helmet to initiate contact either by a block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came off.
Kick catching interference has an added 15-yard penalty now in addition to the previous option to accept an awarded fair catch.
The option to try a scoring free kick after the awarded fair catch remains.
The penalty for both defensive and offensive pass interference has been revised. There is no longer an automatic first down on the defensive penalty or a loss of down on an offensive penalty. The 15-yard penalty remains on both.
This year the kicking team may initiate contact on the kick off after the ball goes 10 yards and the kicking team is eligible to recover a free kick or the receiving team initiates a block within the neutral zone.
The last clarification for this season is that the touchdown scoring team is the only team that can score on a try.
The points of emphasis this year are similar to other years. 1. Prohibition on contact to and with the helmet. 2. Reconditioning and recertification of football equipment. 3. Free blocking zone enforcement-consistent enforcement of blocking below the waist