10 rule changes have been approved for the next season of high school football in the wake of last month's meeting of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee.
Assembling in Indianapolis from Janauary 18-20, the NFHS finalized three rules addressing concerns of safety in incidences where a player's helmet is removed. It will now be an "illegal personal contact foul" to initiate any contact with a player whose helmet is off, and "illegal participation" for a player to continue in a play beyond the "immediate action" after losing their helmet. Additionally, anytime a player's helemt is removed during play, or in the activity following shortly after a whistle signalling a dead ball, they will be required to sit out for a down.
Alongside the safety regulations, the NFHS removed the effects on downs for pass interference penalties. Offensive pass interference will no longer result in a loss of down, and in turn, defensive pass interference will no longer result in an automatic first down. Each penalty will only result in 15 yards for or against the offense.
Brad Garrett, chairman of the NFHS rules committee, said that the elimination of both down penalties was carried out in the interest of maintaining fairness.
"The proposal to eliminate both components, thus not upsetting the balance between offense and defense," said Garrett, "Was the key factor in the adoption of the new rule.”
Also among the changes were the addition of a 15-yard penalty for kick-catch interference during punts, and clarifications that receivers who catch the ball inbounds and are carried out of bounds by a tackler will be awarded forward progress from their original spot, and that only the kicking team can score on a point-after-touchdown attempt.