Football points of emphasis released

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Gridiron officials to focus on 5 areas this season

The Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA), in conjunction with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), has released its annual football points of emphasis list.

The list is used to inform coaches, players and officials of areas where penalties are more likely to be called.

This year, five areas will draw the focus of officials.

First, game officials have been instructed to be aware of situations that are likely to produce unnecessary or excessive contact. Specifically, blindside blocks, peel-back blocks and airborne receivers attempting to secure the ball often times provide windows of opportunity for these potentially dangerous contact situations to occur.

Players leaving their feet, or launching, and initiating contact with opponents, should be penalized immediately for unnecessary or excessive contact.

Second, excessive will be defined as conduct that is judged to be unnecessary, or an effort to injure or take out an opponent. Situations involving contact that exceed what is usual, normal or proper must be eliminated from the game.

The third area of emphasis is stricter enforcement of the free-blocking zone. The free-blocking zone is a rectangular area extending laterally four yards either side of the spot of the snap, and three yards behind each line of scrimmage.

A player is in the free-blocking zone when any part of his body is in the zone at the snap. All players involved in the block must be on the line of scrimmage, in the zone at the snap and the contact must take place within the zone.

Blocking below the waist is permitted from the time the ball is snapped until the ball leaves the zone.

When the ball is directly snapped hand-to-hand to a back, a block below the waist is legal as long as the

blocks are between linemen who were in the zone at the snap, the contact is in the zone and the ball has not left the zone. As long as the ball remains in the zone, those players may legally block below the waist.

In the shotgun formation, however, the ball leaves the zone, and the zone disintegrates almost immediately. The NFHS has ruled it is nearly impossible for a lineman in a two-point stance to legally block below the waist in this situation because of the time required for the lineman to drop from an upright position and block an opponent below the waist.

Prior to the snap, game officials should know whether the ball will be snapped hand-to-hand or to

a back in shotgun formation, player positioning and alignment, and which players may legally block below the waist.

Fourth, illegal equipment now includes items that the umpire deems dangerous, confusing or inappropriate. Coaches must present all casts, braces and other such items to the game officials' attention during the pre-game verification so the umpire can inspect the items.

Players will not be allowed to participate in the game, and substitutes will not be allowed to become players, if they are not properly wearing required equipment or when they are wearing illegal equipment.

Finally, the fifth area of emphasis says sideline interference penalties will be strictly enforced.

When non-players are outside of the team box area, or anyone is in the restricted area while the ball is live, game officials will give a sideline warning to the team involved. A second offense results in a 5-yard penalty. All subsequent offenses result in 15-yard penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, charged to the head coach.

If a game official unintentionally contacts a coach or other non-player in the restricted area while the ball is live, the team is assessed a 15-yard penalty for a non-player, illegal personal contact foul.

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