The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is revising its intentional grounding rule and “chop block” rules as two of seven changes for the 2022 high school football season.
Rule 7-5-2 EXCEPTION 2 will now allow a player to purposefully throw an incomplete forward pass without warranting an intentional grounding penalty provided the passer is outside of “the pocket” (lateral boundary of the free-blocking zone) and the pass reaches the neutral zone or the extension of the neutral zone beyond the sideline.
“The question (with this rule) has always been, ‘if the defense makes a good play, are we bailing out the offense by letting the quarterback throw the ball away?’” said Richard McWhirter, Chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and Assistant Executive Director of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. “This year, I think the committee felt the wellbeing of the passers and not subjecting them to extra hits was worth changing the rule.”
An alteration to Rule 2-3-8 addressed the new definition of a chop block, which is now described as “a combination block by two or more teammates against an opponent other than the runner, with or without delay, where one of the blocks is below the waist and one of the blocks is above the waist.” Previously, the defensive player’s knee was used to determine the high and low components of a chop block.
“This is going to strengthen the rule and it’s also going to help the game officials,” said McWhirter. “I think they’re going to be able to enforce this rule better than they have in the past because determining ‘below the knee’ and ‘above the knee’ is tough to do. I think it’s really going to improve the game.”
Players will be able to wear the number 0 as a jersey number starting in 2022, as the range of acceptable numbers listed in Rule 1-4-3 was expanded from 1-99 to 0-99. However, any number preceded by the digit zero will be illegal.
State associations now have the option to extend sideline team boxes beyond their traditional 50-yard expanse (between the 25-yard-lines) as long as both teams are allowed to use the same dimensions. This new NOTE attached to Rule 1-2-3g also gives state associations the freedom to decide which individuals can access the extended area.
Two minor changes involving game clock and play clock procedures were made to Rules 3-4-7 and 3-6-1a(1)e EXCEPTIONS, respectively.
In Rule 3-4-7, any foul committed within the last two minutes of either half will automatically result in the offended team’s option to start the game clock on the snap. Prior to this change, the offended team was required to accept its opponent’s penalty in order to gain control of the game clock.
The committee edited the EXCEPTIONS to Rule 3-6-1a(1)e, which clarify the necessary conditions for an abbreviated 25-second play clock after a stoppage in play. This rule now includes an exception for Rule 3-5-7i, mandating that a 40-second play clock be employed following a foul committed only by the defensive team.
The final rule change for 2022 is an alteration to Rule 1-3-3 regarding game equipment. Any game official – not just the referee – may order the ball changed between downs.
All of the changes were brought forth by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee, which held its annual rules meeting in January. The NFHS Board of Directors subsequently approved all seven of the committee’s suggestions.
The NFHS Football Rules Committee is composed of one representative from each of the NFHS member state associations that use NFHS football rules, along with a representative from the NFHS Coaches Association, NFHS Officials Association and NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee.
“With this year’s rules changes, the committee once again showed its focus on minimizing risk in high school football,” said Bob Colgate, NFHS Director of Sports and Sports Medicine and liaison to the NFHS Football Rules Committee. “By expanding the parameters for a legal forward pass and redefining the chop block so it can be more easily officiated by game officials, the committee has taken measures to mitigate two potentially risky situations within the game.”
Football Rules Changes – 2022
1-2-3g NOTES 3. (NEW): Team Box May Be Extended By State Association Adoption
By state association adoption, the team box may now be extended beyond the 25-yard line.
1-3-3: Ball May Be Changed Between Downs
Any game official may order the ball changed between downs.
1-4-3: The Number “0” Is Now Legal
The single digit number “0” is now a legal number.
2-3-8: A Chop Block Has Been Redefined
A chop block has been redefined as an illegal combination block where contact is made above and below the waist.
3-4-7: Clarified The Offended Team’s Game Clock Options
Clarified the offended team’s game clock options following a foul committed with less than two minutes remaining in either half.
3-6-1a(1)e EXCEPTION 2. (NEW): Added A New Exception To The Play Clock Administration
Added a new exception to the play clock administration following a foul committed only by the defensive team.
7-5-2 EXCEPTION 2. (NEW): Added A New Exception For The Passer
Added a new exception that allows the passer to legally throw the ball away to conserve yardage.
2022 EDITORIAL CHANGES
2-28-2; 5-2-4; 6-2-6; 10-2-2; 10-2-3; FOOTBALL FUNDAMENTALS – VII-2, X-3-E; RESOLVING TIED GAMES – 5-1-1, 8-3; NINE-, EIGHT- AND SIX-PLAYER RULES DIFFERENCES – RULE 2 and 7
2022 POINTS OF EMPHASIS
- Targeting / Defenseless Player
- Legal Uniforms and Equipment