40-second play clock, state option for postseason instant replay among NFHS changes for high ... .

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INDIANAPOLIS -- The National Federation of State High School Association recently announced seven impending rules revisions for high school football.

The revisions were recommended by the NFHS Football Rules Committee. They were approved by the NFHS Board of Directors during its Jan. 13-15 meeting in Indianapolis.

Arkansas is a member state of the NFHS. The Arkansas Activities Association is among the athletic organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia affiliated with the NFHS, the national leadership organization for high school sports and performing arts activities.

The NFHS writes playing rules for 17 sports for boys and girls at the high school level. The organization conducts national meetings, sanctions interstate events, offers online publications and services for high school coaches and officials, serves as the national source for interscholastic coach training, and sponsors professional organizations for high school coaches, officials, speech and debate coaches, and music adjudicators.

One of the revisions for high school football calls for the play clock to start at 40 seconds instead of 25 seconds in an effort to establish a more consistent time period between downs. The change will begin in many cases with the 2019 season.

The play clock will continue to start at 25 seconds prior to a try following a score, administration of an inadvertent whistle, a charged timeout, an official's timeout, stoppage of the play clock by the referee and at the start of a quarter or overtime period. The 40-second clock will start in all other cases when the ball is declared dead by an official.

Procedure previously started the play clock at 25 seconds after the ball was marked ready-for-play, been placed for a down and the referee gave the ready-for-play signal. Beginning next season, the ball will also be ready for play when immediately after the ball has been ruled dead by a game official after a down, been placed on the ground by an official and has stepped away to position.

"The entire committee needs to be commended for its thorough discussion regarding the move to a 40-second play clock, except in specific situations that will still have a 25-second play clock to show play is ready to begin," said Todd Tharp, assistant director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee.

"This is one of the most substantial game administration rules changes to be approved in the past 10 years, and without detailed experimentation from several state associations over the past three years, along with cooperation of the NFHS Football Game Officials Manual Committee, all the elements needed to approve this proposal would not have been in place.

Another change by the committee will permit state associations to create instant replay procedures for playoffs. The revision would allow game or replay officials to use a replay monitor in the playoffs to review decisions. Use of a replay monitor will be on a state-by-state adoption basis with each state determining the methodology for reviewing calls.

"The ultimate goal of each game official and each officiating crew is to get the call correct," Tharp said. "Each state association, by individual adoption, can now use replay or video monitoring during its respective postseason contests to review decisions by the on-field game officials. Each state association, if it adopts this rules revision, will also create the parameters and scope of the replay."

The committee clarified the size requirements for numbers on jerseys through the 2023 season and added a new requirement effective with the 2024 season. By the 2024 season, the entire body of the number on jerseys will be required to be a single solid color that clearly contrasts the body color of the jersey.

"The purpose of numbers on jerseys is to provide clear identification of players," said Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine and staff liaison to the NFHS Football Rules Committee.

"In order to enhance the ability to easily identify players, the committee has clarified the size requirements for jersey numbers through the 2023 season and added a new requirement for the 2024 season."

A change in the definition of a legal scrimmage formation was approved. A legal scrimmage formation now requires at least five offensive players on their line of scrimmage instead of seven players.

The change declares no more than four backs in a single formation. The committee suggested the change will make it easier to identify legal and illegal offensive formations.

Two changes were approved by the committee in an effort to reduce the risk of injury in high school football. Tripping a runner is now prohibited.

Beginning next season, it will be a foul to intentionally use the lower leg or foot to obstruct a runner below the knees. Previously, a runner was not included in the definition of tripping.

The "horse-collar" foul was also expanded to include the name-plate area, which is directly below the back collar. Grabbing the name-plate area of the runner's jersey, directly below the back collar, and pulling the runner to the ground will now be an illegal personal contact foul.

The final revision approved by the committee for the 2019 season was a reduction in the penalty for illegally kicking or batting the ball from 15 yards to 10 yards.

A complete listing of the football rules changes will be available on the NFHS website at https://www.nfhs.org,

Sports on 02/13/2019

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