In its drive to increase safety in high school football, the National Federation of State High Schools is following the lead of the NCAA by outlawing targeting beginning in the 2014 season.
Targeting, according to NFHS, is the “act of taking aim and initiating contact to an opponent above the shoulders with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulders.”
In other words, anything other than playing the ball on a legal tackle will result in a targeting penalty.
The targeting foul will be treated as illegal contact and the offending team will be penalized 15 yards. Unlike the NCAA, which implemented the rule a year ago, the offending player will not be ejected in high school football.
The NFHS also redefined a defenseless player as a player who, “because of his physical position and focus of concentration is especially vulnerable to injury.”
On kickoffs, the NFHS ruled that the kicking team must have at least four members on each side of the ball, which eliminates stacking players up on one side during an onside kick.
“The Football Rules Committee’s actions this year reinforce a continued emphasis on minimizing risk within all phases of the game,” said Brad Garrett, the chair of the Football Rules Committee and an assistant executive director of the Oregon Schools Activities Association.
New language to other rules include:
Rule 8-5-1: “The accidental touching of a loose ball by a player who was blocked into the ball is ignored and does not constitute a new force,” which means punting teams cannot block receiving teams into a lose ball.
Rule 9-4-3: Roughing the passer fouls now include all illegal personal contact fouls, which results in a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down.