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NFHS releases new high school football rules for this fall

A number of rule changes are coming to the high school level, one of which will finally allow quarterbacks to throw the ball away and another that may impact coaching decisions at the end of each half.

The NFHS held their annual meeting at the end of January, where seven proposed rule changes were brought to the committee for the 2022 fall football season.

By the end of that meeting, all seven proposals were approved by the board of directors.

The one with the biggest potential impact is a rule that will now allow quarterbacks to intentionally throw a ball away.

That previously was not allowed at the high school level, which always seemed to cause a fair amount of confusion among players and fans who would see it happen all the time at the college and NFL level. High school quarterbacks not having that ability has long been one of the most misunderstood situations in games. 

Up until this rule's approval, quarterbacks would have to throw an incompletion where there was a receiver in the vicinity.

The reason for passing the rule now, after it being proposed and denied at least two other times, is because of player safety, NFHS Director of Sports and Sports Medicine Bob Colgate shared in the NFHS official release.

“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.”

According to the official release:

"Rule 7-5-2 EXCEPTION 2 now permits 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 definition of "chop blocks" has been tweaked to "“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.”

The knee, and not the hip, was previously used as the point where high/low blocks were defined.

From a game management perspective, there is one change that coaches will want to take note of.

In the final two minutes of either half any foul committed will automatically result in the offended team’s option to start the game clock on the snap instead of the spot of the ball. Prior to this change, the offended team could not gain control of the game clock unless they accepted the penalty.  

See a full list of the NFHS changes, here.