A good way to kick off the high school football season is with a look at the rules and especially the rule changes for the 2013 season.
Two of the biggest changes involve pass interference and enforcement of the penalty. When the defensive team commits the foul, it is not necessarily a first down. While it is still a 15 yard penalty from the line of scrimmage and replay the down, the offensive team must make the sticks to be awarded a first down. For example, it is third down and 22 for the offensive at the opponents 45, after a pass interference penalty against the defense, it will now be third down and 7 from the 30 yard line as the penalty yardage was not enough to make the sticks.
The other change was to bring the high school game in line with the other levels of football by taking away the loss of down provision for offensive pass interference. The penalty still remains 15 yards from the line of scrimmage. Prior to this year, offensive pass interference was the most severe penalty in the high school game and was the number one rule that coaches and officials wished to have changed.
The NFHS rules committee also added to the penalties for a player losing his helmet during play. Previously, if a ball carrier loses his helmet during the play, he was ruled down at the spot where the helmet came off. Now if ANY player loses his helmet during the play, that player must stop and have no further participation in the play. Should that player continue in the play, it is a 15 yard penalty for illegal participation. That player must leave the game for one play, unless the helmet coming off is a result of a foul or if it happens on the final play of the second or fourth quarter or any overtime period.
The rules committee also went back in time to change the enforcement of kick catching interference. The receiving team will not have the option of replaying the down with a 15 yard penalty, having an awarded fair catch at the spot of the foul or having the catch awarded plus 15 yards. Just a guess but not many teams will take the second option. This was the choice allowed prior to the 1990 season.
Any player that wears gloves must have an approval stamp on the gloves before they can be worn.
Those are the changes for 2013, enjoy the season and hope this answers any questions one may have. Thanks to John Yerage, the rules interpreter for the Lawrence County PIAA Football Officials Chapter for helping to provide the information.