INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – In an effort to continue minimizing the risk of injury in high school football, three additional rules will take effect next season to address helmets coming off players’ heads during games.
These three risk-minimization additions were among 10 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 18-20 meeting in Indianapolis. All rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.
The three rule changes serve as follow-ups to last year’s rule that players that lose their helmet during play must sit out the next play. The new rules will charge a personal foul to any player that initiates contact with a player whose helmet has completely off, that it will be illegal participation for a player to continue actively in a play when their helmet comes completely off. There was also language added to the existing rule to clarify that if the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down – and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent – the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission.
The most significant of the remaining rules changes is an alteration of the penalties for offensive and defensive pass interference. Both penalties will still be 15-yards, but offensive pass interference will no longer results in a loss of down, and defensive pass interference will not result in an an automatic first down. The additional six changes deal with the use of technology, the definition of a catch, penalties and rule interpretations on kick and punt tries, clarification on which teams can earn points on an after-touchdown try, and modification on rules involving wearing towels.