The PowerPoint presentation on the new blocking was presented, as well as the reminders from last year’s rules, and the Points of Emphasis.
Review of the new rule:
The new rule allows for blocks below the waist if the three conditions are met:
The player being blocked, and the blocker, must be stationary and on the line of scrimmage inside the Free-Blocking Zone.
The block must be in the zone.
The block must be begun with “immediate and initial action” at the snap.
Note: The restriction against players in a two-point stance, shotgun, or pistol formation is no longer in force. Blocks begun by a player in a two-point stance, whether in a hand-to-hand, shotgun or pistol formation are legal if they follow the three criteria.
The crux of the rule is that the block must be in an immediate and initial action that is forward. Blocks that begin with a lift-up or stand-up motion, or a step back or even a lateral step, and then a low block are illegal under this new rule.
Blocks that begin in a forward motion toward the opponent (either on offense or defense) can be to the player immediately in front of the blocker, off either shoulder if he is in the gap or (according to the discussion during the interpreters’ meeting July2) one player over.
One player over means if the blocker is head-on-head with one player, and there is a player next to him, the block may be initiated to either player. However, no blocks will be allowed more than one player beyond.
The question was asked during the webinar about the legality of “traps.” On either offense or defense (trapping or trying to break up the trap), those blocks must be at or above the waist. The pulling guard on sweeps cannot go more than one player beyond his initial stance as the block will be considered “delayed” under the new prescriptions of the rule (i.e., “immediate and initial action”).
As far as blocking below the waist is concerned, after the initial blocks, the zone is considered “disintegrated.”
For blocks in the back, the rule is still the same. So, theoretically, you can have more than one block in the back by a player if the ball is still in the zone.
The new mechanic for wings and umpires was discussed. It is experimental and boards can adapt the principles of the mechanic to fit situations. After the first two weeks of the season the mechanic will be reviewed and revised.
It is currently being reviewed by the boards after responses from various officials. It will be discussed in the next bulletin.
Rule 1-4-1 now prescribes the coach must designate who will make decisions as to penalty enforcement and other decisions during the game. It could be himself, an assistant, or a player. This is to be determined during the pre-game walk and discussion.
3-1-6c Exception allows for a halftime shorter than 10 minutes if a lightning/storm delay required a 30-minute stoppage, and the clock reads 3:00 or less. By mutual agreement with the Referee, the coaches can opt to have a shorter halftime (not including the 3-minute warm-up). The exception reads: If the game is interrupted due to weather during the last three minutes of the second period, and the delay is at least 30 minutes, the opposing coaches can mutually agree to shorten halftime intermission, provided there is at least a one-minute intermission (not including the three-minute warm-up period).
Rule 3-6-1a(1)e Exceptions 2 and 3 mandate if a Team B player is injured or has an equipment problem that forces him off the field – and the clock is stopped by the officials – 40 seconds is to be put on the play clock.
Rule 3-6-1a(1)f is a clarification. “When either team is awarded a new series after a legal kick the play clock is set to 25 seconds and starts with the ready-for-play signal.
Rule 7-1-9 and Penalty – This is a revision of the disconcertion foul. Instead of an unsportsmanlike conduct foul, it is now a five-yard penalty, whistled prior to the snap. Signal 23 is used.
Reminder: The U should check with the coaches and/or players to find out what “move signals” are being used defensively, and whether they simulate a cadence. If it can be corrected prior to the game, all the better. Any word or action that simulates a cadence, and causes a false start, should be a “blow and throw,” with the penalty enforced.
Rule 7-5-2e Exception now allows for a player in a shotgun or pistol to spike the ball to “conserve time.” The player must be directly behind the snapper (don’t get a calibrator out).
Note: If the snap hits the ground enroute to the passer, or if the ball is muffed so it hits the ground, the passer can no longer spike the ball.
Points of Emphasis
Sportsmanship – Referees should discuss this with coaches in the pre-game, and with captains at the toss. We have protocols in place for pre-game actions that can be penalized. Crews should review those. Sportsmanship rules apply to players, coaches, bands, cheerleaders, and PA announcers.
Intentional Grounding – The NFHS Rules Committee has consistently voted down an “outside the tackle box” exception to the grounding rule. An eligible player must be in the area a passer throws the ball. Running outside the tackle box does not allow throwing the ball away. As stated in the webinar, the rules committee believes making the change would penalize the defense for making a good play AND throw the game out of its current offensive-defensive balance.
On the line, off the line– Players must break the plane of the snapper’s waist if they are to be legally on the LOS. Bowing back, or ends that are not on the line break the rule allowing for only one player to be in “no man’s land, and only to receive a hand-to-hand snap. The formation is illegal, and the players not on the line or in the backfield are ineligible.
Ineligibles downfield – With U’s only coming up to a three-yard limit from the LOS, ineligibles who go beyond the U are obviously downfield. The rule says the “neutral zone expanded.” We are giving a little extra leeway as we always have. A player must be “downfield” to be called a foul. Let’s not change the game. Remember, Team A players in contact with opponents while downfield are committing OPI.
In the coming bulletins we will give updates on the new mechanics as well as any interpretations that come from NFHS.