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NFHS Football Rules Committee Announces Significant Changes for 2023 Season

By Russell Bush
Special to the Enterprise

A significant change to Rule 10 of the NFHS Football Rules will have an impact on high school football offenses starting in 2023.
The revision aims to maintain balance between offense and defense and stipulates that the basic spot for enforcement of fouls behind the line of scrimmage is the previous spot, rather than the spot of the foul.
Illegal kicking, batting, and participation fouls penalties, as well as provisions for offensive fouls in the red zone that may result in a safety, remain unchanged.
For instance, under the changed Rule 10-4, a team on offense at its own 40-yard line, called for holding 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage at its own 30-yard line, will face first and 20 from its 30-yard line, instead of first and 30 from its 20-yard line.
Richard McWhirter, chair of the NFHS Football Rules committee and assistant director of the TSSAA, stated that the rule change will make the rule clearer for coaches and easier for game officials to administer.
The committee also expanded the definition of a defenseless player to include not only receivers, but also persons making an interception.
They also approved a clarification to the intentional grounding rule, except for grounding to the first and only players who possess the ball after the snap ends.
Other revisions by the committee include clarification of when a player is in-bounds after being out-of-bounds, but there is no change in penalty.
The committee also changed the rule regarding towels worn by players, stating that the towels do not have to be the same color, but cannot be the color of the ball or penalty flag.
The committee removed the word “intentional” from Rule 7-5 regarding forward pass interference, aligning the rule with its current enforcement, which is a 15-yard penalty.

1 Comment

  1. Charles Duncan on May 11, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    Making the enforcement spot the previous spot on such plays is fair. In previous year, runner tackled behind the line of scrimmage, but grabbed by the facemask, the enforcement spot would be the previous spot with the exception if the ball was fumbled on the play. In that case, it became a loose ball play and you would go back to the previous spot and mark the flag from there. A player could be tackled 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage and if it’s a 5 yard facemask, then the offense would start 15 yards back from the previous spot and repeat the down. If it was a 15 yard facemask, then they would start 5 yards back from the previous spot. The offense would actually be penalized in both cases, It will easier to enforce also as well as being equitbable. . I also agree with the rule regarding towels. It simplifies matters now and we won’t have to be the towel police. I have always liked the 15 yard penalty on interference. It is fair. The offense should not automatically get a first down.

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