New rules announced for high school football season

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Every season, the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) releases its new rules and clarifications for the high school football season.

Since the Missouri State High School Activities Association (MSHSAA) uses these rules as a guideline for its member football schools, they have become Missouri’s new rules as well.

There are not that many changes this year, but the officials on the the field, as well as those in the stands, need to be aware of the changes.

• Face guarding, as long as the defender avoids contact with the receiver, is no longer a violation. Players will be allowed to stick a hand in the receiver’s face as long as there is no contact.

• Blind-side blocks outside the blocking zone will result in a personal foul if they are deemed forceful and contact is made without an open hand. The definition of a defenseless player has been broadened to allow more freedom for this to be enforced.

• Players cannot make contact with the ball or the snapper’s hand or arm until he releases the ball. The penalty is five yards for this violation.

• Broadcasters, public address announcers and spotters will get their wish as a rule to ensure that home teams wear dark uniforms in contrast to the white uniforms worn by visitors. Grey uniforms allow for blended numbers and sometime did not differentiate enough from the visitors’ jerseys.

• Teams will no longer be allowed to attempt “pop-up” kick-offs and will be penalized for doing so. The rules committee defines a “pop-up” kick as a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee. Such kicks will be penalized as a dead-ball free-kick infraction.

• One of the most unique clarifications from the NFHS indicates a ball is to be whistled immediately dead if the ball carrier completely loses a prosthetic limb. Apparently, if the limb is dangling, play may continue.

• Finally, the committee added a new option to the offended team to start the clock on the snap for an accepted penalty inside the last two minutes of either half. The referee continues to have the authority to start or stop the clock if a team attempts to conserve or consume time illegally.

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