High school football fans take heed: Your Friday night games will look a little different in 2017.
In fact, coaches, players and referees have already begun adapting to changes in the way the game has been taught and played for decades.
The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released 11 new rules changes during the offseason. Many were simple rewording of existing rules. Four, however, will make Friday night contests look very different.
The president of the Lanier Football Officials Association, Tim Tipton, recently took time to walk with Friday Game Night editor Morgan Lee about the changes and what fans, players and coaches can expect for 2017. To watch the presentation, simply click "play" above. Below follows a written explanation of the alterations. (NOTE: The number of referees currently in the game is also near crisis levels, to read more on this issue, click here.)
The new blindside blocking rule [see the accompanying video for a demonstration of the rule] could cause confusion among fans, coaches, and players.
The pop-up kick rule [see the accompanying video for a demonstration] will make it more difficult to change possessions on onside kicks but is designed to help eliminate serious injuries resulting from random, violent collisions.
The ability to control when the game clock starts inside the final two minutes is designed to keep teams with a one-score lead from manipulating the contest to keep the trailing team from gaining possession.
Meanwhile, the NFHS also amended the defensive pass interference rule to allow non-contact face-guarding. In other words, a defender may now put his hands in front of a potential receiver's face so long as he does not touch said receiver.
Tipton said most of the rules were adopted in the name of safety. But he also knows it will change how the game is called and the strategies teams will have to employ to compensate.
The definition of a blindside block established by the rules committee is “a block against an opponent other than the runner, who does not see the blocker approaching...and involves contact by a blocker against an opponent who, because of physical positioning and focus of concentration, is vulnerable to injury. Unless initiated with open hands, it is a foul for excessive and unnecessary contact when the block is forceful and outside of the free-blocking zone.”
The new rule comes with a 15-yard penalty as well.
“I think everyone is always trying to find ways to make the game safer. I think all three of these will do that if we can eliminate these kinds of dangerous plays,” Tipton said. “That being said, we all have grown up watching the game a certain way. There will be some fans I’m sure that will wonder about the new rules, especially the blindside block one. But it’s a good rule change and should help cut down on some serious injuries.
“The coaches were all sent the new rules changes back in February when they were put in place and I’m sure -- at least I hope they have -- shown the players what they can and cannot do.”
During the interview Tipton mentioned a "crisis" on the refereeing side of the game. He also sat down with AccessWDUN for a few minutes to discuss the state high school football officials and how it could affect the future of the game.
Also, anyone interested in becoming a offical in the northeast Georgia area can click lanierofficials.org to find out how to get started.