CTK ’14: High School Football Rule Changes

Thursday, July 31, 2014 | 1:39 PM

To play the game, you have to know the rules and the MSA Sports Network will help all of the fans of high school football out with the new changes for 2014 and beyond.

This year will see probably the most major change to the game in years with two new rules adapted to bring the high school game in line with the higher levels of football.

Here goes and don’t worry, there is NO quiz.

All rule changes are made by the National Federation of High School Sports and enforced by the PIAA.

Targeting added to the rule book: The rules committee brought this rule to the high school game, knowing the controversy it brought to the college game in 2013.

If a player takes aim at an opponent above the shoulders with the hand, helmet, forearm, elbow, fist or shoulder with intent that goes above making a legal tackle or block or playing the football is prohibited. However the new rule does not call for an automatic disqualification of the player. The penalty will be the same as a personal foul of 15 yards.

Defenseless Player defined: A defenseless player is a player that because of his position on the field and force of concentration is especially vulnerable to injury. This rule will come into to play usually with an airborne receiver attempting to make a catch. This is a personal foul of 15 yards.

Changes to free kick lineup and run up:  Kicking teams are no longer allowed to load up one side of the formation prior to the kick. Teams must now have 5 players on each side of the kicker. The rule also limits the amount of space teams are permitted to get a running start prior to the kick. This will now come into play late in games on onside kick attempts, teams will no longer able to place the majority of players on one side of the football or change positions prior to the kick.

Roughing the passer revised: The rules committee added an automatic first down in addition to the 15 yard penalty. Prior to the change, the offensive team had to make the yardage for a first down. The change is now in line with all other levels of football.

End of quarter procedure changed: The change closes a hole in the rules that allowed for an untimed down in certain circumstances even though the offensive team had an opportunity to run a play prior to time expiring. The new rule states that time must expire during a down and a foul must be accepted to allow an untimed down.

The committee also added to the definition of creating a new force on a loose ball, in terms of a player blocked into the football does not create a new force. Also, fans may see game officials on the field earlier. The rules committee gave state associations the authority to have members of the officiating crew on the field during the team warmup period. This rule also puts the high school game in line with all other levels. Officials previously were required to be on the field 30 minutes prior to kickoff.

Those are the major rule changes for 2014 and beyond, obviously safety is a huge concern to the rules committee and with the focus on concussions, these changes could help reduce those numbers and make for a cleaner game.

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