The National Federation of State High Schools (NFHS) continues to tweak its rules governing high school football, this year focusing on protection of defenseless players.  Below is a summary of these changes:

  • A defender will no longer be permitted to punish a receiver in an attempt to jar the ball loose while the receiver is in the act of catching it. In addition, this type of contact must be withheld until the receiver completes the catch and turns himself into a runner.  Prior to this, the defender can use only open hands.
  • A defender can use only open hands against a quarterback who is in the act of throwing the ball or just after releasing the ball.
  • No contact is permitted against a runner whose forward progress has been stopped by other players or who is in the act of sliding feet first.
  • No contact is permitted against a player who is considered to be out of the play.
  • Only open hands can be used against the receiver of a punt or kickoff until he turns himself into a runner.
  • Blindside blocks can only be administered using open hands.
  • The pop-up onside kick has been eliminated in order to protect defenseless receiving players.

Other rule changes include:

  • Face guarding by a pass defender is now permitted provided he does not make physical contact with the receiver.
  • A defender is not permitted to contact a center’s arm or the ball until the ball has been released from the center’s hand.
  • During the last two minutes of either half, an offended team can opt to have the clock restarted on the snap rather than immediately after the penalty has been enforced.
  • Home jerseys must be dark in color and contrasting to white. This may ultimately eliminate those light gray uniforms.