IRON COUNTY—Fans attending high school football games this fall will see a change in the penalties for pass interference, which have been toned down a bit.
Starting this fall, the penalty for both offensive and defensive pass interference will only be a 15-yard penalty.
Until now, an offensive pass interference penalty meant a 15-yard penalty plus loss of down. Not any longer; the team gets to play the down over.
For years, defensive pass interference in high school ball has meant 15 yards plus an automatic first down for the offense. Starting this season, it’s only a first down if the 15-yard penalty moves the ball far enough.
--More rules to protect players who lose their helmets during a play. If an opponent hits a player who has lost his helmet during a play, it’s a 15-yard penalty for illegal personal contact. And if a player who lost his helmet continues taking part in the play, including blocking or tackling, it’s a 15-yard penalty for illegal participation.
A player who loses his helmet during play has to leave the game for at least one down.
--Towels worn by players no longer have to be all white, as long as they are one solid color and not the color of the ball or the penalty flag.
--If a player leaps to catch the ball and an opponent stops him and carries him out of bounds before he touches the ground, it is a legal catch at his forward progress.
--The rule regarding the try (extra point play) after a touchdown was clarified: Only the team scoring the touchdown can score on a try (unlike NCAA college rules).
--Coaches can now use any kind of communications device (such as a laptop or tablet computer) when meeting with players at the sidelines or between quarters. The same change applies to other high school sports.
--If the kicking team interferes with an attempted fair catch, it’s a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the foul. After the penalty is walked off, the receiving team is still allowed to attempt a field goal from a free kick. That is an extremely rare play, a legacy of football’s development from rugby rules.