Posted: 11:21 am Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

East Coast Football Officials explain new football rules for 2013 season 

By Jeff Greer

The East Coast Football Officials Association met with public-school football coaches at the annual Palm Beach County coaches meeting to explain several new rules in high school football.

Two issues prompted more debate than the rest, but here’s the rundown of the changes the officials discussed Tuesday night. What’s clear is officials and the FHSAA take head safety very seriously and emphasized that in their updated rules.

– If officials determine a hit is excessive, it is an automatic flagrant foul and ejection. There will be no warnings — first-time offenders will be ejected. The officials spent most of their time at the meeting explaining this rule, but it’s simple: If an official sees a player willfully lead with his head, that player will be kicked out of the game.

– Initiating contact with a helmetless player is a personal foul. If a player’s helmet pops off during play, no one can touch him and the player cannot continue his participation in the play. If a player loses his helmet mid-block or mid-tackle, he may finish his participation in that exchange but cannot continue after that. If a ball carrier loses his helmet, the play is immediately blown dead.

– Coaches may use communication devices (read: tablets) on the sideline and during any meeting with players outside the numbers and near the sideline.

– When a player catches a pass and is carried out of bounds by a tackler, the officials will award forward motion to the receiver even if he doesn’t land a foot inbound.

– Pass interference is no longer an automatic first down. It will be a 15-yard penalty from the line of scrimmage. Offensive pass interference also will no longer result in a loss of down for the offense, just the 15-yard penalty.