Football
Football

FOOTBALL INTERPRETATIONS/CLARIFICATIONS

CANONS – A number of issues have arisen re: the discharge of a canon (or other explosive devices) during a game.  In the “regular season” (which is all game prior to the start of the playoffs beginning with the bi-district round), the decision as to whether explosive devices will be permitted at games is up to the host school management.  The administrations of many KSHSAA member schools have voluntarily opted to remove the use of such devices at their games.  But that decision for regular season games is still under the control of the administration of the host school.  Safety, liability and other concerns have prompted their decision to do so.  During the playoffs, under KSHSAA policy, such devices are banned.  The KSHSAA has also limited the use of “artificial noisemakers” when the clock is running.  During a recent game, a canon was discharged as the ball was kicked off but prior to any touching of the kicked ball.  The question that arose in the minds of some was “Could the officials have penalized the team for the canon?”    

While the discharge of the canon at the time the ball is kicked off creates a valid concern, the ball had not yet been touched by R and thus was not a violation of KSHSAA policy.  Even though the canon (or any other artificial noisemaker) may be discharged or used during the game when  KSHSAA policy restricts, IT IS NOT WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF OFFICIALS TO IMPOSE PENALITIES ON TEAMS FOR VIOLATION OF KSHSAA RULES/POLICIES.  Officials should contact the KSHSAA if they believe a violation of KSHSAA policies may have occurred.

Direct charge into a snapper – Again the question has arisen, how do you determine if there was a “direct” charge into a snapper (9-4-6).  Those of you that have attended a KSHSAA rules meeting may have heard this question asked before.  In order to determine if there is a violation of 9-4-6 (i.e., a charge directly into the snapper when the team is in a scrimmage kick formation) I’ve told officials to visually run a pole through the body of the snapper, going from the top of his helmet straight down.  When the snapper is in a scrimmage kick formation, if a defensive player’s direction of charge would go through that pole, then the defensive player has made illegal contact under rule 9-4-6.  Does this mean that there can be no contact at all with the snapper in a scrimmage kick formation?  Not at all – a defensive player may still make a charge that could carry them into contacting the snapper.  Defensive player lined up in a gap charges straight ahead.  If the offensive line is in a tight formation, there could be contact with the snapper by the defensive lineman’s charge.  So long at that contact or the direction of the charge is not through that imaginary pole, then the defensive player’s contact with the snapper is not a violation. 

1.Mandatory three (3) minute warm-up – The question has arisen “when has a team met the requirements of being on the field” for the mandatory three (3) minutes for warming up prior to the second half kick-off.  The NFHS rules book does not provide a detailed explanation of “warm-up” nor do they specify what is meant by “on the field”.  Clarification has been requested regarding the last point, i.e., what is the basis for determining if the team is “on the field” for the mandatory warm-up time?

I would consider the team is “on the field” when the squad/team is inside the track area (assuming there is a track around the football field) when the half-time has ended.  If the team is leaving the locker room and making their way to the field, if they are in “sight” of the officials but not yet inside the track, I don’t believe they have met the spirit of, nor the intent of the rule.  At some point a determination has to be made that the team is “on the field”.  The track does serve that purpose.

Required equipment – shoes on kickers – While questions concerning the wearing of football shoes by kickers have been relatively rare the last few years, I need to remind coaches and officials that NFHS rules DO REQUIRE that all players must wear shoes (ON BOTH FEET) in order to participate.   Confusion may occur in the minds of some when they watch a multitude of games at all levels of competition.  I can not speak to Youth Sports, NJCAA, NCAA or NFL rules re: required equipment.  But without question NFHS rulesgoverning all interscholastic ball in Kansas REQUIRES that all players must wear shoes.  The specific rule reference is 1-5-1f.  Officials this year were provided a new publication “Rules by Topic”.  On page 27 of that publication is a review of the shoe rule and it is very clear that ALL PLAYERS MUST BE WEARING SHOES IN ORDER TO BE LEGALLY EQUIPPED.  If officials misapply this rule requirement, please forward their names to my office.

Touching of a scrimmage kick by R – Some of you may remember the discussions conducted during the 2006 KSHSAA rules meetings with respect to a common situation – SITUATION:  R player touches a scrimmage kick behind the line (could be result of a great rush by R, an assignment breakdown by K, a poor snap or a mishandled snap by the kicker, etc.).  In any event the kicked ball is touched or partially blocked by an R player and there is subsequent contact by R on the kicker.  As I reviewed during the 2006 meetings, the touching of a scrimmage kick behind the line by R DOES NOT AUTOMATCIALLY MEAN THAT THE KICKER IS “FAIR GAME” FOR ANY CONTACT.  Officials need to review NFHS rule 9-4-5 periodically in their pre-game discussions.  Like many NFHS rules, officials will need to exercise some judgment in application of each of the provisions (a thru d) of 9-4-5.  Touching of the kicked ball by a K player does open the door for subsequent contact with the kicker to be ruled legal when such contact with the kicker when the ball is not touched would always be considered running into or roughing, but the touching of the kicked ball DOES NOT mean that all subsequent contact with the kicker is legal.  Officials annually are provided several NFHS publications.  The NFHS casebook is an excellent resource that officials will find of great value when considering how rules are to be applied and interpreted.  Page 69 of the 2007 NFHS Football casebook covers a number of situations that should be reviewed.  In particular, the COMMENT found in 9.4.5 Situation A should be reviewed to assist officials in applying the principles of 9-4-5.

SITUATION: For reference to help visualize the situation, A is the player who is initiating the block, B is the player that A is intending to block.  In the situation, either A or B is NOT a lineman, or the contact is outside the free blocking zone – that is the assumption is that play situation is NOT lineman blocking lineman in the free blocking zone.  Assumption is that for one or more reasons, A’s contact has to be above B’s waist.

SITUATION:  A is moving toward B into a position to block B.  B put his hands out and makes initial contact with A.  When B’s hands make contact with A, a) B’s hands are at or above B’s waist or b) B’s hands are below B’s waist.  In both a) and b), after contact is made by B with his hands on A, A continues with his movement and makes contact with B’s body below B’s waist.  RULING:  In a) if B maintains hand contact with A, the block by A on B is legal.  In b) even if B maintains contact with A, if the resulting contact by A is below B’s waist, the contact by A is illegal.  COMMENT:  The key in determining if A’s contact with B after B has made contact with his hands on A is the location of B’s hands in relation to B’s waist.  The NFHS interpretation of the rule is that B is still vulnerable in trying to defend his lower body (i.e., below B’s waist) from contact which is below his waist when B’s initial contact with A is below B’s waist.  The fact that B has made hand contact with A does not open any subsequent contact with B below B’s waist to being legal contact.  Also, it must be pointed out that A would have to continue his action after being contacted by B’s hands and make contact with B’s body BELOW B’s waist (i.e., thighs or legs) in order for a foul to occur.  It would not be a foul if A’s only contact with B was with B’s hands.  Nor would it be a violation, if A’s subsequent contact with B’s body was at or above B’s waist.  A reminder to all officials, just as in the case with blocks in the back or clipping, officials need to see the “whole” action in order to administer the rule correctly.  If the official only sees the end action (i.e., contact by A on B’s body below the waist), then they might incorrectly be applying the rule.

Football - 5th quarter interpretations: KSHSAA Football rule 35-2-2 and 35-3-2 limit football players to no more than four quarters in a day. During the course of the football season, questions often arise as to how the “fifth quarter” provisions in KSHSAA seasons of activities rule 30-1-5b are applied. The basic principle applied to the fifth quarter is that the fifth quarter is an extension of the fourth quarter in football.

As a reminder to coaches and officials, the KSHSAA has interpreted NFHS football rule 1, section 5 article 3 k as follows: NFHS rules provide that no player shall participate while wearing illegal equipment. The rule goes on to provide that the illegal equipment list as provided in NFHS rule 1-5-3 is not all inclusive. Among the items listed is “Uniform adornments other than one unmarked moisture-absorbing white towel”. It has been a long standing interpretation by the KSHSAA of rule 1-5-3 k that the wearing of dew-rags, skull caps, bandanas, handkerchiefs, by players constitutes uniform adornment and thus by rule is illegal. This interpretation has not changed. Coaches and officials should be aware of this interpretation of NFHS rules and should not permit team members to enter a football game while wearing such items, even though they may not be visible.

A question and answer section follows to help schools in understanding the fifth quarter:

Q - Does the “fifth quarter” count as an additional quarter played?
A – No – for example, if a student had played in two quarters of a football game and a fifth quarter was going to be played and this student participated in the fifth quarter, he would not be charged with a third quarter that day. HOWEVER, If a student did not play in ANY quarter in the game (i.e., did not get into any of the four quarters, then that student should be charged with playing in one quarter (in this case the fifth quarter).

Q – If the student got into all four quarters of a game, may they still participate in the fifth quarter?
A – Yes – (see next question for more comments). It would be counted as a continuation of the fourth quarter and thus would not constitute an additional quarter for that student that day. (see above example)

Q – Who can participate in the fifth quarter or is it restricted to only students who never got into the regulation game?
A - The intent of the “fifth quarter” is to give students a chance to play in a more controlled (albeit a modified) game like situation against another school/team. Administrators and coaches need to remember this when they consider which kids to play in the fifth quarter. Example – a student only gets into the regulation football game on kicking plays. During the regulation game, this student got into each of the four quarters on the punting or kicking teams but did not see any playing time other than that. This student could play in the fifth quarter as a position player, etc. It would not count as another quarter.
Another example – a student got to play on offense as a lineman during the regulation game. He got in several offensive series. Due to numbers of students on the team, in order to have enough players to make a team up for the fifth quarter, can this student play defense or another offensive position (other than what he played in the regulation game)? In order for the fifth quarter to happen (and thus provide game situations for students who got very little playing time in during the game) it is permissible for coaches to use some students in the fifth quarter who may have played in the regulation game. Again, it is important coaches and administrators monitor who gets into these “fifth quarters” - since the intent is to, “provide those not participating significantly in the interscholastic competition (regulation game) to have an opportunity to participate informally under modified game conditions”.

Q – What is meant by “modified game conditions”?
A – Examples of modified game conditions are 1) the use of a running clock for the fifth quarter, 2) no clock is used, each team is permitted to run a number of plays and then the other team gets to run the same number of plays, 3) game officials are not used and the coaches are on the field giving instructions to players before, during or after a play, etc.

Q – Is it necessary to have officials for the fifth quarter?
A – No it is not necessary. The modification may be that no officials are used and the coaches are in effect running the scrimmage.

Q – How long can the fifth quarter be?
A – The length of the quarter may vary (see previous examples). However, the actual playing time for the fifth quarter should not exceed the playing time for a regulation game quarter.

Receiver eligibility – Several calls concerning pass eligibility have come in during the last few days.  This is one of the cleanest rules in the book.  A quick review of the NFHS rules:

11-man football – Player in order to be an eligible pass receiver must be eligible both by position and by number.  It is legal for #55 (for example) to be lined up as a back and carry the ball.  BUT #55 is not an eligible receiver regardless of where he would line up.  If #75 was lined up at the end position on the line, he is not an eligible receiver.  Rule 7-2-5 - Other than for the exception in a scrimmage kick formation, in 11-man football, the offensive team must have at least five (5) players on the line of scrimmage numbered 50-79.  They could have more than five on the line of scrimmage, lets’ say all seven and all numbered 50-79.  That’s legal BUT in that formation, they don’t have any eligible receivers on the line of scrimmage.

8-man football – In eight man, receivers need only be eligible by position - the jersey number they are wearing does not affect their eligibility as a receiver.  #50 could be the running back and he would be eligible as a receiver by position.  Officials that may have limited experience with 8-man may wonder or ask, “how do we keep track of eligibility since numbers are not a factor in determining eligibility”.  The easiest way is just remember the numbers of the players who are NOT eligible – in 8-man there are only three players who are not eligible.

Reporting disqualifications – Officials if it is necessary to disqualify a player from a contest, it is important for the schools in working with their students to have an “OFFICIALS REPORT OF UNUSUAL SITUATION” on that disqualification.  Please fill out and send a report to Rick Bowden at the KSHSAA office for player disqualifications.

Application of 7-2-1: Officials' Time-Out
This question/situation has arisen “How is rule 7-2-1 (rule which requires all offensive players to be momentarily inside the “tic” marks or the tops of the yard line numbers) to be interpreted/applied in a situation in which there is an “Officials' Time-out” following the ready for play. If the offensive players were all inside the tic marks or numbers following the ready for play and then the officials' call for an officials' time-out, do they (the offensive players) have to re-set or re-establish themselves inside the tic marks/yard line numbers?” Example, following the referee marking the ball “ready for play” one of the officials' calls for an officials' time-out, assuming there is no substitution for one of the offensive team members, do the offensive team members have to re-establish themselves or re-position themselves inside the tic marks or the top of the yard-line marks, or can they stay outside the marks/numbers if they were outside the numbers as a result of a shift? The answer is no, they would not have to re-establish or re-set inside the numbers. It is important to point out that IF a substitute had entered the game during the officials' time-out then THAT new player would have to meet the requirements of 7-2-1.

KSHSAA interpretation – NFHS rule 3-6-5
The following situation was raised during the 2005 KSHSAA football rules meetings:
Situation: Both team A and team B return from the locker rooms to the football field prior to the lapse of the halftime. During halftime, the host school band/drill team performed. At the conclusion of the 15 minute scheduled halftime, the band and/or drill team was not yet done performing. Both teams had to wait several minutes for the band or the drill team to finish and leave the field before the teams could begin their required three minute warmup.
RULING: NFHS rule 3-6-5 provides that “game management is responsible for clearing the field of play and the end zones at the beginning of each half so play may begin at the scheduled time.” Under the penalty provisions a delay of game penalty is to be assessed against the home team for failing to have the field of play cleared so that the second half could begin on time. This would include having the field cleared so that the teams may begin their required warmup period.

Tinted eye shields – Several questions relevant to NFHS rule 1-5-3n have been raised.  At the interscholastic level any player wearing an “eye shield” is only permitted to wear a “clear, molded and rigid” eye shield.  Under NFHS rules, it is not permissible for a player to wear an eye shield that has any sort of or amount of “tinting”.  The rule DOES NOT require the student to have a letter from a doctor indicating that the eye shield needs to be worn.  The question that often arises is this, “What if a doctor sends in a letter saying that the eye shield must be tinted?  If this happens can the eye-shield be tinted?”  NO - Under NFHS rules and interpretation, the Doctor’s letter DOES NOT take precedence over this rule – in other words, the Doctor’s letter can not alter the rule.  A student could wear tinted eye glasses under a clear shield but the shield still has to be clear with no tinting.

Delays in starting a game – The question has arisen “How long should we wait before we forfeit a game when one of the teams isn’t at the site when the game was originally scheduled to be played?”  While rare in football, occasionally a team is delayed in arriving at a game site.  Most of the time the teams are present before the scheduled start time, but it may happen that one or both teams are late in arriving at the site.  And on some occasions, the teams are there but the officials are not – a very bad situation and one which should NOT happen unless an accident has happened.  Both the NFHS and KSHSAA books and manuals are silent on this matter.  ANYTIME, a team or member(s) of the officiating crew realizes that they are going to be late in arriving at the site, they need to contact the host school administration as soon as possible to inform them of the delay and informing them as to when they anticipate arriving at the site.  This is but one reason why it is important that officials and school administrators communicate with each other PRIOR to the game and exchange telephone numbers.  Once it is apparent that the game will not start at the scheduled time, every reasonable effort should be made to try and contact the late arriving party to determine an alternate starting time and/or if the game would have to be rescheduled.  At the minimum a fifteen (15) minute delay should be provided before any decision is made concerning a delayed start, rescheduled time/date or forfeiture is appropriate.  Any such discussions should include the officials and administrators from both schools.

Rule 7-2-8:  “Fumblerowski” play – A question has arisen with respect to the interpretation and application of this rule provision.  Specifically, the question is “is it legal for an A back to advance a planned loose ball?”  After reviewing the rule with the NFHS staff, it is now their interpretation that the provisions of 7-2-8 only apply to a planned loose ball being advanced by an A lineman.  Thus, it would be legal for an A back to advance a planned loose ball.

Rule 1-5-1i:  Mouth guards – A question has arisen with respect to the interpretation and application of this rule in regards to specially molded mouth guards medical staff prepares for students wearing braces.  It has been stated that many of these mouth guards are clear.  In some cases the cost of these has been significant.  The question is “is it permissible for the mouth guards to be all white or clear if they have been specifically prepared by orthodontists for students wearing braces?”  Again, after reviewing with the NFHS staff, it their interpretation that all mouth guards must conform to the rules that they be a color other than all white or clear.  Thus, it is not permissible for the mouth guards, even though they are provided by orthodontists, to be all white or clear.

Rule 7-2-1:  Tick marks for 8 man – On page 86 of the NFHS Football rules book, reference is made under rule 7-b, that “after the ball is ready and before the snap, each A must momentarily be within 12 yards of the spot where the ball is to be snapped.”  When the rule committee put in rule 1 for 8-man that there would be tick marks seven (7) yards in from the sideline (or the tops of the numbers would be 7 yards from the sideline), the committee failed to remove the reference to the 12 yard requirement.  The interpretation is that the 12 yard reference is not applicable now that the 7 yard marks (tops of the numbers) rule is in place.  As in 11-man, for 8-man following the ready and before the snap, all offensive players must momentarily be between the tick marks or the tops of the numbers.

Chin strap – covers?  There are some companies manufacturing “covers” or “protectors” for use on chip straps.  Ostensibly, they are designed to help pull perspiration away for the players chin, etc.  Two general questions have been raised re: the use of these by students in interscholastic play.  1)  It is permissible to use these?  Answer: yes, there is no rule that prohibits their use.  HOWEVER, it is important that the use of these by players does not compromise the purpose of the chin strap, such as – it has been observed that some of the players will loosen the strap when these are used and the chin strap then becomes so loose that it doesn’t securely keep the helmet in place on the player.  2)  Many of these have logo’s on them.  Is there a size limit on the size of the logo?  Answer:  yes, it still should be no greater than 2 ¼ square inches in size.

1-5-1i - Mouth guard update – Another question has arisen as to this rule and it’s application to the following type of mouth guard – this is a clear mouth guard other than a “stand” of color that is in the lower (biting surface) of the guard.  In the bottom of the guard there is a color “stand” that runs through the guard.  The question is “Does this guard comply with the requirements of rule 1-5-1i?”  The NFHS interpretation is that it DOES NOT COMPLY with the rule.  1-5-1i requires that the “tooth and mouth protector shall be of any readily visible color, other than completely white or completely clear”. The fact that there is a  color in this type of clear mouth guard does not make it legal - specifically the location of that colored strand makes it not “readily visible”.

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