A notable change to Rule 10 of the NFHS Football Rules will have an impact on the offense for high school football beginning in 2023. In a move to achieve one the (NFHS) Football Rules committee’s fundamental tasks to maintaining balance between offense and defense, the revision stipulates the basic spot for enforcement of fouls behind the line of scrimmage is the previous spot rather than the spot of the foul. Current penalties for illegal kicking, batting and participation fouls, as well as provisions for offensive fouls occurring in the red zone that may result in a safety, remain intact.
As an example, with the rule change in Rule 10-4, a team on offense at its own 40-yard line that is called for holding 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage at its own 30-yard line, would be faced with a first and 20 from its 30-yard line rather than the almost insurmountable task of first and 30 from its own 20-yard line.
Richard McWhirter, chair of the NFHS Football Rules committee and assistant director of the TSSAA (Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association) said the rule change will make the rule clearer for coaches and easier for the game officials to administer.
The committee also made changes to the rule that defines a defenseless player as not only a receiver as in the past but includes a person making an interception. The committee also approved a clarification to the intentional grounding rule to the exception for grounding to the first and only players to possess the ball after the snap ends.
Other revisions by the committee include clarification of when a player is inbounds after being out of bounds but there is no change for the penalty. The committee also made a change on towels worn by players, stating that the towels do not have to be same color but can’t be color of ball or penalty flag.
Rule 7-5 regarding forward pass interference, the word intentional was removed, which places the rule in line with how it is already enforced, which is a 15-yard penalty.