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Guido: Pass interference not as costly this season

| Wednesday, July 24, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

We're just 37 days away from the start of the 115th local high school football season, and some significant rules changes will be part of the 2013 landscape.

While teams must adjust to the new heat acclimation rules during August training camp and the limit on full-pad practices during the season, additional changes will take place.

In perhaps the biggest change, the penalty for pass interference will be reduced.

The 15-yard offensive and defensive pass interference penalties will remain, but the loss of down has been removed for offensive pass interference and an automatic first down will no longer be granted for defensive pass interference.

In other words, let's say it's third-and-20 and a defender commits a pass interference penalty.

A 15-yard penalty will be walked off from the line of scrimmage, but now it will be third-and-5, instead of an automatic first down.

“Offensive and defensive pass interference penalties and their structure related to fouls have been debated many times over the years,” said Brad Garrett, chairman of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) football rules committee.

• A new rule last year established that a player whose helmet comes off during a play has to sit out the subsequent play. An illegal personal contact foul has been added to state that “no player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.” Additionally, it will be an illegal participation penalty for a player whose helmet has come completely off “to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.” A player whose helmet comes off during a down or “subsequent dead-ball action related to the down. The player must leave the game immediately unless the helmet was dislodged due to a foul by the opponent.” The exception to this is halftime or the overtime intermission period.

• In another clarification of a rule established last year, what constitutes a catch has been further defined. Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine says: “An airborne player who has forward progress stopped inbounds and is carried out of bounds by an opponent before contacting the ground is awarded a catch at the spot of forward progress.”

• The national rules committee has added a 15-yard penalty to the option of accepting an awarded fair catch for kick-catch interference.

High-tech has come to high school football.

The NFHS will permit the expanded use of communication devices in certain situations.

Now, communication devices can be used during authorized conferences outside the 9-yard marks, on the sidelines and during halftime.

Players using communication devices outside the 9-yard mark continues to be prohibited.

In other words, a player's girlfriend can't text him from the stands to meet her at McDonald's after the game.

Football still No. 1

Football remains the No. 1 participatory sports nationwide on the high school level.

During the the 2011-12 school year, the most recent figures available, there were 1,121,744 high school football players.

But how many people know that 1,805 of the participants were girls?

George Guido is a Valley News Dispatch scholastic sports correspondent. His column appears Wednesdays.

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