Prep Talk | Football helmet rules get more specific

February 11, 2013 

Last fall, football players around the Grand Strand, state and country were subject to a new rule that made it mandatory for players whose helmets had come off to sit out the next play.

The move followed increased players safety standards, primarily based on an increase in concussion awareness in the sport.

However, the National Federation of State High School Associations – the governing body of prep athletics – added more specific language to rules that for the most part must be universally adopted by state boards, including the South Carolina High School League.

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In 2013, players whose helmets are dislodged must also refrain from continued play on a specific down. Translation, no longer will you see a linebacker sans headgear attempt to make a tackle.

And, maybe more importantly, a running back, receiver or quarterback who has lost his helmet will no longer be allowed to run or fight for more yardage outside of the “immediate play.” So if a ball carrier without a helmet breaks a tackle, the play will essentially be blown dead.

Moreover, if a player’s helmet has been lost, any opposing player who makes contact with the helmetless player can be assessed with a personal foul.

The NFHS has also changed a handful of other rules starting in 2013.

The organization slightly altered pass interference penalties on both sides of the ball. Offensively, while the 15-yard penalty will remain in place, teams whose pass catchers commit the infraction will no longer be charged with a loss of down, as has been the case in the past.

On defense, the penalty will still be accompanied by a 15-yard penalty. However, it will not include an automatic first down. For example, a third and 20-yard scenario that ends in a defensive pass interference penalty will make the next play a third and five.

In the past, it would have been a first-and-10 15 yards from the previous line of scrimmage (with the exception of half-the-distance situations).

For a full list and official wording of rule changes, visit nfhs.org.

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