Latest Quesitons

Class 2 Officials for Playoffs

Just saw the Pre-season Bulletin and had a question about the use of Class 2 officials for playoffs. Does this mean Class 2 officials will be used when all eligible Class 1 officials have been assigned? Or does this mean that eligible Class 1 officials can be passed over for playoff assignments by lesser qualified Class 2 officials?

I only ask because it does not seem fair to use less qualified Class 2 officials when there are qualified Class 1 officials who do not get a chance for playoff assignments.

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I know on page 36 of the gold book that it states drones are allowed weeks 1-10 if school allows. My question is are they allowed to fly over the playing field? If they are not allowed where do I find the information not allowing them?

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Running Clock

Say going in to a game….you know that it will be a lopsided score and in the first half a team scores more than enough points to start the 3rd quarter with a running clock……would both coaches be able to agree before the game to not have a running clock and then play JV kids the second half?

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Illegal Composition Football

After his team fumbled a kickoff, coach complains that opponent is using an illegal composition football.

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Gun in stands

At halftime of the game, we were informed that someone in the stands had a gun on them and that they were arrested during the first half of the game.

My primary concern about this is that none of the officials on the field were informed of this while this was taking place and that the game was allowed to continue with a potential threat near or at the game site.

My question is: What can we do as officials if something like this is brought to our attention? Is there any procedure as to how something like this can be brought to our attention so we can act if needed?

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Arm Sleeves with Grip

Have seen an uptick lately on these sleeves that have a grit to them as seen in advertisements. If I read the equipment rule correctly, we should be making them remove them? Or should we ignore?

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Game Balls

We had a good question about game balls in our virtual meeting Tuesday. A crew told the team that the game balls had to be new or nearly new to be legal in Week 3. The did allow the balls to be used for the game. The team used the same balls in Week 2 without question. The term “New – Nearly New” is not part of the Gold Book or Rule Book currently, but was used in the past. The reference to Game Footballs in the Gold Book is on Page 38 #10.

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Speakers in helmets

Is it permissible for the QB to have headsets in his helmet to be in contact with his OC?

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New Intentional Grounding Exceptions

During the state rules interpreter meeting on 7/22 you covered the new IG rule exceptions. During that discussion you stated that if the passer was being contacted at the time he throws the pass then IG should not be called. During our chapter meeting today (Sunday) a question was asked about the definition of “contact”. Specifically the official asked if “pulling or tugging the jersey” constitutes “contact”. Can you clarify this for me?

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3-4-7 Rule Change

Look at last year’s case book play 3-4-7 Situation C. Does the rule change for 3-4-7 change that case play?

Would the accepting or declining of the foul have an affect on the case ruling? For example Team A declines the penalty of B, but B accepts the penalty on A. Would B have priority because it was an accepted penalty or do we still give the GC option to the teams by the order of occurrence?

I can see this getting a little tricky. For example, B is ahead. A has illegal motion with two players moving at the snap. During the play B commits a live ball face mask foul. The result of the play is a loss of 5 yards in bounds (clock would run on the RFP). B declines as they don’t want to play the down over, A accepts. Do we ask B about the game clock status (on the snap) because the foul on A occurred first, or do we ask A as they have the only accepted foul (I know accepted is no longer in the rule book language). Follow up, if both team accept (offsetting) do we give the decision to start the game clock on the snap to B (offended first) or A?

Short version of the question, since we no longer need an accepted foul, if both teams are offended who wins the game clock battle?

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The visiting team, when they came onto the field, were carrying a sledge hammer and a baseball bat to their side line. Legal? I know they can not go to the middle of the field and jump on the home teams logo and hit it with the hammer and bat, unsportsmanlike conduct.

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School lightening policy

My crew was doing a football scrimmage, and all went well until after the scrimmage a siren located on the top of the school sounded. When we asked the AD what that was for he said it’s a lightning detector. It detects when there is lightning within 10-15 miles of the school. There were some dark clouds but we did not see any lighting or hear any thunder. He also stated that its the school’s policy that if it sounds off to have all the students and staff clear the fields and head indoors. So my question is, what is OHSAA’s policy on this?

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Players wearing spats/shoes

Are players allowed to wear spats/shoe coverings?

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Cleats with metal attachments or emblems on the laces

I have been seeing cleats with metal attachments/emblems on the laces. I have been informing the teams/players to remove them before the game. They are manufactured by Adidas. These have some sharpe points on them and may cause cuts or lacerations.

Cleats with metal

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Legality of particular elbow braces

We have providers across the nation prescribing this brace so student-athletes can be better protected while participating in athletic events. Are they legal?

Example functional elbow

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Motion Man doing a Back-Flip

Play 1: The offense would send one man in motion. This motion man would do a “back-flip” while in motion to draw the attention of the defense (head coaches own words). The offense would then snap the ball and run the play in the opposite direction.

Play 2: Same as Play 1 – except this time the motion man instead of doing a back-flip, while in motion would turn and yell toward the QB, “throw me the ball, throw me the ball” prior to the snap. The offense would snap the ball and run the play in the opposite direction.

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Bicep Pads

We have a few players who wear shoulder pads that have additional pads that can attach or detach from the actual shoulder pad. They are made to protect the upper arms, and obviously cannot be covered by all jerseys. The pads are covered in a cloth material and are not made of hard plastic. I brought this to the attention of the referees before this past Fridays game and they said they believed the pads are legal and ok to wear.

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Reporting Eligible Numbers

If have an offensive lineman (#53) that I would like to hand the ball off to on the goal line, does he need to have an eligible number, does he need to report to officials before coming in, or is he fine as long as he lines up in the backfield?

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Uniform Rule Artficial Limb Rule

Question 1: A question came up last night at are rules meeting about pants covering the knee. This happened at a scrimmage last week-end. The same two or three players have pants that were not covering the knee were sent off for one play. Once they returned, after a few plays, the pants have ridden back past the knee, play sent off. This happened quite a few times during the scrimmage, with the player or players being sent off for one play. The question is, how many times do you send off the player before invoking rule 9-5-1-g, player refusing to comply with a game official’s request or unsportsmanlike rule 9-8-1-h against the coach?

Question 2: A artificial limb may be worn with OHSAA approval. We have some schools that play non OHSAA schools, out of state or from Canada. If a player has a artificial limb from one of those schools, do they still have to have OHSAA approval? Do they play if they do not?

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New penalty option for fouls by the kicking team

Rule 6-1-9b indicates that R has the following options when K kicks a free kick OOB untouched by R:

a. Accept 5 yd pen and K rekicks

b. Accept 5 yd pen from succeeding spot

c. Put the ball in play 25 yds beyond the previous spot

d. Decline the penalty and put the ball in play at the inbounds spot.

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Coach/QB Headset Communication

Yesterday I worked a scrimmage and the head coach for appeared to be calling in his plays to the QB from his headset to a speaker in the QB’s helmet, as is common at higher levels of football. Is would appear that this violates Rule 1-5-3c(2). Is that correct, or is this method of communication allowed at the HS level?

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Drone Policy

Page 35 of the Gold Book, item 6, addresses drones. During weeks 1-10 it indicates that drone policy is left up to the school.

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6 Man Crews During the Regular Season

I am asking for clarification on using 6 man officiating crews during the regular season games in 2018. Since the Gold Book does not contain any mechanics for 6 man crews, will the regular season crews be limited to 5, and as was stated last year, a 6 man crew will not count toward the games needed for playoff consideration? Some crews have anticipated going toward 6 man crews, splitting monies, etc. Some assigners have posted 6 man crews. If 6 man is only to be used in playoffs, officials and assigners need to be told this ASAP to allow for scheduling adjustments.

6-person crews are permissible if approved by me.

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Intentional Grounding

We had a situation in our game Friday night where the quarterback received a snap in the shotgun formation and intentional spiked the ball. It was not called a penalty and I thought the QB had to be under center to do that. In fact, I thought it was a point of emphasis that you brought up in the video. When I questioned it, the line judge said this is not the NFL and that I was wrong. Am I correct on this ruling or am I wrong?

You are absolutely correct.

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Holder kicks the ball

On a field goal try, the ball is muffed by the snapper and it lands on the ground. While the ball is on the ground, the place kick holder kicks the ball and it goes through the uprights. Is this legal or is it illegal kicking? If illegal and the opponents decline the penalty do you score the field goal?

Illegal kicking and you cannot score except with a legal kick. They may decline, but no score.

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Roughing the Passer

For the interpretation of a defenseless player, Rule 2-32-16A says that you cannot hit a quarterback while in his throwing motion. Is this a defenseless player foul?

The roughing the passer rules have not changed. The rules makers broadened the definition on defenseless players that basically eliminated the fact that hitting a defenseless player is a foul. Rule 2-32-16 says “ A player who initiates contact against a defenseless player is responsible for making legal contact.” Thus a player can contact a defenseless player legally.

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Kicker takes ball from holder

Team K is in a scrimmage kick formation for a TRY by kick. The holder K1 has his knee on the ground and is controlling the ball on the tee. The kicker K2 comes up and takes the ball off the tee from K1’s grasp. Is the ball dead or does it remain live?

It doesn’t. The fact is that the kicker “taking” it from the holder is the same as the holder handing it. Dead ball.

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Clock starting on kickoff

Case book play 3.4.2B. The answer makes you believe that on a kickoff under 2 minutes and the offended team chooses to have clock started on snap, that the clock would not start at any time during the kick. So you kick off and you have a run back with no time off clock. Is this correct?

The clock would start when the kick is touched in the field of play by R.

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Blindside Block with respect to the Free Blocking Zone Questions

Is a Blindside Block legal inside the FBZ at any time by any player regardless of where the ball is?

No. There is no FBZ when the ball leaves the zone.

Is the statements of inside/outside the FBZ just referring to the area/location on the field, or do all of the other restrictions of the FBZ apply for a Blindside Block exception inside the FBZ?

Yes the restrictions of the existence of the zone (ball in the zone) apply. But remember, the definition states that the opponent does not see the blocker approaching. That implies they are coming from a distance (crack back). In close line play this does not exist.

If the other FBZ restrictions are in effect – which restrictions are applicable (only linemen on linemen such as Blocking Below the waist, or Team A lineman against any Team B player who is the FBZ at the snap such as the block in the back)?

Just the exiistence of the zone.

Does this Blindside Block exception in the FBZ disappear when the ball leaves the FBZ (when the FBZ disintegrates)?

It can, but see “c” above.

Consider the following play situation. Is this a legal or illegal Blindside Block inside the “FBZ”? 1. QB in shotgun formation 5 yards behind the LOS and receives the snap. 2. Trap Play with Team A71 (backside lineman – tackle position) pulling to “trap” B50 (Team B lineman). 3. B50 is concentrating on the play in the Team A’s backfield and does not see A71 coming. 4. The contact by A71 is forceful and occurs in the area that had been defined as the FBZ (but the FBZ has disintegrated when the ball left the FBZ).

I say LEGAL because this is close line play and the opponent has reasonable opportunity to see this block coming. I heve sent this play to the Rules Committee chair, co-chair and editor for confirmation.

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Playoff Eligibility

What qualifies to be eligible for playoffs? I have heard 8 varsity games for 2 straight seasons, being eligible in the 2nd season. I have also heard 8 varsity games AT THE SAME POSITION for 2 straight seasons, being eligible in the 2nd season.

Check the Gold Book, P. 47, 2 B. Must officiate a minimum of 8 Varsity Games two years in a row. During the current season must officiate 8 Varsity Games at the same Position you are applying for the State Playoffs.​ Note: 6 Man & 7 Man Crews do not count toward the 8 games.

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Questions of the Week - Week 10

  1. Late in the 2nd qtr and team A is out of timeouts. The QB runs the ball and is tackled. As the players unpile, the QB rises and takes off his helmet and indicates to the R that the one of the snaps on his chinstrap has become defective and will not stay snapped. The R clearly sees that the chinstrap will not stay snapped so the R stops the clock for an officials timeout due to faulty equipment. The QB tries to fiddle with the snap but has no success. The QB then runs to the team box where a team assistant throws him a new chinstrap. The QB returns to the huddle and is ready to go within the allotted 25 seconds for equipment repair as stated in Rule 3-5-6. No team attendants enter the field to assist the QB. In this situation (Team A has no timeouts), the rule states that if repair of faulty equipment requires the assistance of a team attendant, the player must be replaced for one down. The split interpretation in our association, as well as the playoff crew, boils down to whether the QB going to the team box momentarily constitutes “assistance from a team attendant”. Or, is the intent of the rule means it should only be applied if a team attendant enters the field to assist the player. In other words, we all agreed that if a team attendant enters the field to assist the QB, then the QB must go out for one play. However, if the QB goes to the team box, no attendants enter the field, and the QB fixes the equipment within the allotted 25 seconds, can he stay in the game?

I believe the intent of the rule is to repair equipment on the field. I believe if you are replacing it, the player should have to leave. Someone has to assist to replace and thus we don’t have to decide if they are a “team attendant”.

  1. 1st and 10 on 13. The next running play goes to the 2 yard line. You have a dead ball unsportsmanlike or personnal foul on the offense.

A,1 & 10 on the B17. A obtained the LTG legally during the down. RB, 5-1-2a. Also, CB, 5.1.2B & 5.1.2F.

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Questions of the Week - Week 8

  1. Players wearing arm sleeves that are not connected to the uniform or an under shirt, mainly worn to cover the biceps, elbow and forearm, They are also not considered a pad nor a wrist band. I consider them a uniform adornment and not legal, am I miss applying this rule? It seems every week coaches here a different ruling as well.

Legal as long as not ball colored.

  1. If tackle #70 lines up on the end of the line and at the snap goes back behind the quarterback and catches a backward pass is this allowed?

I have found rule 7-4-2 page 59 that would indicate it would be legal.

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Questions of the Week - Week 7

  1. Umpire mechanics. A field goal attempt lands short in the end zone. Is it correct to signal no good then touchback or should he do just one or the other?

Signal both. No score and then TB. Reason we signal TB is that is the result of the play plus the different rules for NCAA and NFL for missed FG’s.

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Questions of the Week - Week 6

  1. When RT elects to take the ball at the spot of first touching; does R signal to PB (sig. 16)?


  1. In a game, one of the teams was using number 52 and 60 as non-lineman players. Both players started the game as running backs and continued in that regard the entire game. As the game went along, both players caught TD passes at various points in the game. The opposing coach was adamant that both plays should have been flagged as illegal. The official I spoke with checked the GB and found the section that references numbering requirements for 7th & 8th grade games, but is silent regarding 9th and JV games.

It is covered in the GB, P. 37, Section 17 A – “Numbering requirements do not apply to sub varsity games”.The Crew needs to ask both HC’s before the game whether they have any players who will wear ineligible numbers in eligible positions and the reverse. We had a # 48 who lined up as a tackle for a JV Game. We told the defense that he was ineligible and could not go downfield during the game.

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Questions of the Week - Week 5

  1. During a play in which the quarterback (wearing a prosthetic device) became the ball carrier, his device became unattached thus rendering him unable to avoid severe contact and placing him into a precarious situation.

*Currently the NFHS nor OHSAA have any rule satisfying the need for additional protections to insure the safety of this extremely vulnerable player. It was our agreement that a whistle and stoppage of play, similar to the ball carrier’s helmet rule, would be an appropriate solution.

I checked with the NFHS Editor of the Football Rules and he agrees that the whistle should be blown and this treated the same as the helmet rule.*

  1. On a scrimmage kick for a field goal that breaks the plane of the goal line but does not score, are the officials to give the no score signal followed by the touchback signal (S10-7) or just the touchback signal (S7)?

No score then TB Signal.

  1. Third quarter, point differential rule in effect. Time expires during the play and: (a) A commits a block in the back, or (b) B is called for a facemask foul, or (c) there are offsetting fouls. I can’t find this addressed in the play situations under the point differential rule in the Gold Book. Since time expired during the play I believe that in (a) and (b) the period is extended if the foul is accepted. In (c) the period would be extended since you have offsetting fouls. If A’s foul would have been an illegal forward pass in (a) or in (c) the period would not be extended by rule. Had the clock expired while the officials were discussing the foul(s) the period would not be extended since time did not expire during the down.

Whether the point differential is in effect or not, if time expires during the down and we have a foul that extends, we extend. If the fould does not extend, we don’t.

  1. When we have a running clock in the second half due to a 30 point differential, can we/should we turn off the play clock when it is used on the field?

No, keep it running. The only thing that changes is the GC and the timing Rules.

  1. Last Friday we had a running clock in the 4th quarter. The team that was ahead was called for a delay of game. My thought was with a running clock could you ever have a situation where you would stop the clock from running? We stopped it to penalize A and then wound it on the ready. What if A delays again ?

See GB, P.34, # 10. When the first DOG is called the GC continues to run. If they delay again then invoke # 10. This happened once several years ago where the HC told the Crew with several minutes left that he was not going to snap the ball again.

  1. A first and 10 at B 25. A1 throws a pass into the end zone where B23 intercept, started to run with the ball, (didn’t come out) and decided to toss the ball back to B25, who than tossed the ball over the end line.

It is a TB as the player threw a backward pass and rule 7-4-1 says a player may make a backward pass during any down . Rule 7-4-4 states that “If a fumble or a backward pass is OOB behind a GL the ball belongs to the team defending that GL and the result is either a TB or a safety.” The force which put the ball into the EZ was the pass by A. Unless B commits a foul in the EZ, you have a TB. Rule 8-5-3d states that it’s a TB when: “A forward pass is intercepted in B’s EZ and becomes dead there in B’s possession.” That’s what happened. If the runner had run out of the back of the EZ or out of the EZ across the SL you would have the same thing.

  1. During a Varsity game, a coach asked for explanation of a penalty. It was during the time-out after an extra point so I went over towards the sideline to discuss the penalty. During the conference, he stated that everything we say is being recorded. At that point, I noticed that an Assistant coach was standing next to us with phone recording audio. A few seconds later, the Assistant stated that he was video recording our conference. Are coaches allowed to audio or video record an officials conference? Another general question, is recording devices allowed on the field during timeouts?

You have the right to respectfully refuse to be taped in this situation. I would not allow it unless I was taping also. See Rule1, Section 6 for communication devices.

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Questions of the Week - Week 3 - Part II

  1. Just prior to the snap the BJ flagged B for illegal substitution. At the same time the U flagged A1 for a ssnap infraction. Both flags were throw at the same exact time. These are both dead ball 5 yard fouls. The R signaled illegal substitution on B and snap infraction on A. He then announced the fouls offset.

Assuming these did actually occur at the same exact time (????). These fouls should not have offset according to NFHS rule 10-2-5a. They should’ve been enforced in the order of which they occurred.

As an R, I ALWAYS try to ensure which team fouled first. In this scenario, if the DB foul on B went first then the DB foul on A didn’t happen or vice versa.

If this did occur then this should not be covered under the rule change of offsetting dead ball fouls which was a rule change in 2014 or 2015 that states equal UNS, non-player or DB personal fouls will offset.

The only person who would know “when they occurred” is the BJ since he knows when the B Illegal Substitution occurred. And if a defensive lineman is blocking the view of the Center, then probably nobody knows when each fouled occurred.

  1. I heard that when you escort a player to the coach and advise him that that the player is “Approaching Fouling Status,” that player must sit out at least one play. Situation: on a PAT, B66 is involved in some words/hand-fighting at the end of the play. HL informs HC of B66’s actions. After the KO, B66 comes in on offense (B66 was not normally on the KO team) - does this constitute having sat out a play?

Check the 4th sentence in the GB, P. 14, # 17A. HC can send him back in the game when he thinks “he is ready to play FB”. There is no set number of plays.

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Questions of the Week - Week 3

  1. Quick question on OT. I know we bring the captains out for the first overtime and only flip once. Do we bring the captains out for each subsequent OT or just obtain choices and relay that information to the other sideline?

I would prefer you bring the captains out. It is good communication for the fans.

  1. KOM: On a TB the R signals, the wings come in to the numbers using their whistles. Do they also signal TB, kill the clock or give no signal?

KOM: The R and Wings signal TB. No need to stop the game clock since the TB signal kills the GC. Do you know the 4 signals that automatically stop the GC?

  1. When the wing gets to R&R 2 then QB threatens the LOS then crosses the LOS becoming a runner, I’ve been instructing officials to keep a distance by continuing down field then come back and spot as needed or to continue down field until speed of the runner passes us by. Most wings want to try and give up the ground down field to get behind the runner.

PM: The “most wings” are correct. They need to move into the Restricted Area and let the runner past them and then follow him. Why? The Wing is safer from a personal safety standpoint and they can then officiate the action ahead of the runner.

  1. During the pregame meeting with the head coach and officiating crew in each game, I asked if the players were properly equipped and the coaches each said that they were. In scanning the players warming up, the crew noticed some players that had exposed shoulder pads. This was pointed out to the head coach at the time and each was told that the pads need to be covered. The response of each coach was the same. They said that they were trying to comply with the rule and would do their best, but the cut of the unaltered jerseys made it extremely difficult for them to keep the shoulder pads completely covered. During the game, we repeatedly asked players to cover their pads. When they did, the pads would come uncovered again as soon as they went into their stance or participated in the play. My question is this. As I understand it, when this occurs the officials are supposed to inform the coach and play the game. If the situation continues during the game, we are supposed to inform you. What exactly do you suggest that we do or say on the field during the game? I have suggested bringing along extra jerseys for the players to change into or wearing t-shirts under the jersey that would cover the pads, but that seems inadequate at game time.

The teams need to do what it takes to cover the shoulder pads. They know the rule and players cannot play while pads are uncovered. It sounds as if you handled the situation well.

  1. A team’s jerseys have camouflage numbers, which I believe is illegal. I believe Rule 1-5-c states that numbers have to be a continuous color contrasting the jersey color or the same solid color as the jersey with a border.

I believe the numbers are legal as long as they contrast because 1-5-1c indicates continuous color(s) which would be more than one color.

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Questions of the Week - Week 2

  1. BJ Mechanics: On a shotgun snap or a snap to the punter or holder and goes over the head of the receiver do you bean bag that ? I was told once that that is a backward pass and no need to bean bag that. What is the proper mechanic.

Correct, no bean bag needed.

  1. ​What about the knee sleeves with the padding built in and should they be permitted to be used in place of traditional knee pads?

The knee pads conform to 1-5-1d2. The pants still must cover the knee.

  1. ​I have a question about the IP for the BJ discussed on Section 31, B4 on page 22, when the ball is snapped between the the +15 to +10 yard lines. I understand the mechanic to mean that when the ball was on the +15 I start 5 yards deep in the EZ. If the next snap is on the +12 he should be 8 yards deep in the EZ, always keeping 20 yards from the snap until the ball got to the +10 and then go to the GL. I had an observer tell him that I should always be 5 yards deep in this situation until the ball gets to the +10 yard line.

The Observer was correct.​ We want the BJ to stay 5 YDS deep in the EZ when snapped from the + 15YL to +10 YL so he can move quickly to the GL if the receivers allow him to. We have seen many very good calls at the GL by BJ’s in the State Playoffs who moved up on running plays. Outside the + 10 YL it is difficult for the Wings to get to the GL on a quick run.

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Questions of the Week - Week 1

  1. Momentum on an interception at the B2 and a face mask in the end zone by A/K and the ball goes out bounds at the 3. Since B supplies the force that carries the ball into the field of play, there is a foul by A in the EZ, and the ball is fumbled OOB, we should enforce from the GL no matter where the ball went out of bounds.

He got the enforcement right. Since the ball was fumbled from the EZ and forward into the field of play where it goes OOB, the momentum exception doesn’t apply. It only applies if the ball is declared dead in the EZ or goes OOB in the EZ. Therefore, the end of the run is in the EZ and by 10-4-7 the basic spot is the GL. See C.B. 10.4.7 - similar play.

  1. On page 10 under Bean Bag Mechanics Letter B & page 21 Punt Mechanics letter C #15, does this mean that we have to bean bag first touching?

BJ: Mark end of punt (PSK), except TB & fair catch, & first touching. Yes, the “first touching” needs a bean bag​. He needs to read the “commas” & where they are placed in the sentence. Plus this was NEVER said during the SRI Meetings. Common sense – if we do not mark the spot of first touching, how do we know where it is if B recovers a muff or the end of the run is behind the first touching spot.

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Questions of the Week - Preseason

  1. While running the Rules meeting in Butler County we were discussing the play in which a ball carrier is hit and loses his helmet and fumbles at roughly the same time. I refuse to use the word simultaneously, because I feel as though something happened first. I see on page 42 of the gold book it states if the runner is hit & fumbles “simultaneously” with losing his helmet the ball is dead. Can you please explain the reasoning for this. When he loses possession of the ball, he is no longer a ball carrier. Thus keeping the ball live, but keeping him out of the play. We are asked to make tough decisions on timing in the game of football in many plays, and this should be no different. For example, was his knee down before the ball came out. Didn’t one or the other truly happen first; either he lost the ball or his helmet first?

*This play happened in Canton several years ago. Beau contacted Bob Colgate, NFHS FB National Rules Interpreter due to the uniqueness of the play. Bob’s ruling was the Ball is Dead if there is a fumble simultaneous with the runner’s helmet coming off. Ball remains in possession of Team A – the runner’s team. The Crew ruled “simultaneous” or “at the same time” so that was why OHSAA needed an interpretation. We have the video clip of the play – from the angle it is difficult to determine if in fact it was simultaneous, BUT that is what they ruled.​

Interestingly, I received a video clip recently of a onside kick with a fair catch signal – 2 players catch the KO – looking at it multiple times I believe that these teammates caught the ball at the same time – I agree with you, it is rare. As you know in Rule 2, “simultaneous” catch refers to “opponents” so technically we have to use other verbiage.*

  1. At our local meeting last night one of our local crews mentioned that they had encountered a drone at one of the scrimmages they worked. We explained that this was permitted for regular season games by rule. However, the question arose as to how to handle a situation where a ball in play (punt, kick, pass, etc) makes contact with the drone. I have searched for an answer but, as yet, have not found one. Would we simply replay the down from the previous spot? Can you advise me how OHSAA would like us to proceed with such and incident if it should occur.

This is the same as hitting a dog. You would use the inadvertant whistle rule and replay the down.

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Questions of the Week - 4

  1. On a two point try that is short of the goal line does the referee signal the PB that the try is no good?

Yes. We do NOT want the Wings to signal “No Score” if it is a run or pass that ends short of the GL. Why? One official might signal “no score” & the other official might give the TD signal for Try Successful. I personally observed this one year. See GB, P25, Section 35, C-5. The R will signal to the PB only after the opponents have separated from each other – Be a Great Dead Ball Official!!

  1. Are there any rules that prohibit the mechanical drying of footballs on the sidelines such as blowers or anything of that ilk?

There is nothing in the rules to prohibit this. Whatever is done on the sideling could cause the ball to not meet specifications, and thus the officials would not allow its use.

  1. On a PAT (going for 2), A1 scrambles back to the 16 where he is dragged down by his face mask by B23. What is the correct NFHS ruling?

It is a Running Play. Based upon the All But One any foul by B is enforced from the End of the Run. Therefore, the 15 YD FMK is enforced from B’s 16 YL to B’s 8 YL. Then replay the down. See 10-3 and 10​-4-4. The HS Rule is different than college & pro.

  1. What is the protocol for fans sitting close to the field?

As long as the people are outside the 6’ perimeter, this is a game management issue. Remember, if people are in the way of officials (like at the goal line), have them moved. If there is hard seating (couches. bleachers) close enough to the endline that you feel they pose a hazard, alert game management.

  1. 1st and 10. Runner A1 gains approximately a 5 yards. LJ calls B1 for a 5 YD facemask.

The U needs to check with the HL before walking off the 5 YDS to see if the down box (located at the succeeding spot) is behind tape on the chains or beyond the tape. That way we don’t have to measure after walking off the penalty. The R will announce that it is or is not a 1st down.

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Questions of the Week - 3

  1. Does the R on free kicks watch that four players are on each side of the ball when kicked?

BJ & U watch the 4 players. The R can assist in a “back up” roll but the call needs to be made by the U and/or BJ since they are right there & can sound their whistles loud as the ball is being kicked. GB, P.15, Section 21, C-7; last sentence.

  1. Play situation. A has ball on B 23. QB drops back to pass and throws a ball halfway in the end zone where it is caught by receiver A about 5 yards deep and from my viewpoint about three yards from the OB line of the end zone. The BJ, I felt was in proper position near the center of the field about 7 yards deep in the end zone. The line judge did an R & R and burned to the end zone getting about 5 yards out when the ball was caught. The LJ looked at the BJ and both were “frozen” for a better term as who signals TD. Finally the BJ signaled TD. Correct call. There was some discussion as to who signals. I felt that the LJ should have, due to being near the OB line and the back of the receiver was to the BJ.

If the SL was an issue then they would both look at each other then signal together. If the receiver was not near the SL from the snap to the catch then he would probably feel comfortable signaling TD by himself. I believe that if you are 100% that it was a TD then signal TD, rather than worry who should signal TD. Of course we do not Mirror TD’s – the official must know it is a TD to signal.​ On a pass play into the EZ it is always better to be deliberate before signaling TD.

  1. If I’m not mistaken you all have said that the use of drones would be up to the home school. Do game officials have any say at all? What about our liability if a drone crashes on field and hurts someone or causes a game disruption?

Since it is Weeks 1 - 10 the Home School makes the decision whether to fly a Drone & where to fly it. I have only heard of one so far – a local TV station had a drone. The agreement was they could only fly it beyond the SL – in other words not over the field. HT Game management & the TV station agreed to this since it occurred Weeks 1 -10.​ Officials have no say during Weeks 1 - 10 per GB, P. 35. Section 6. I am not an attorney so therefore cannot comment on liability.

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QB under center now changes signal count by shouting or very loud count. Has not used this voice during the game until now. B encroaches.

Encroachment by B.

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Uniforms for chain crew

I understand that stripped shirts are now prohibited for Chain Crews, but what should we do in the case of schools/conferences assigning officials to the Chain Crew? Typically, they arrive and wear their officiating uniform.

They will need to wear something over their stripe shirts – or take off the stripe shirt & wear something underneath it – black shirt, white shirt, etc. We talked with 8 - 10 LJ’s who had to look across the field at 4 or 5 stripe shirts – it was both challenging & frustrating for them trying to locate the HL. That is why we added the Policy.

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Questions of the day

A coach has used his 3 time outs for the half. He then wants a Coach Official Conference for a misapplicaiton of a rule. He is wrong, since we cannot charge him with a time out, is it a 5 yard delay of game foul or a 15 yard unsporstmanlike foul?

5-yard Delay of game (3-6-2c)

Can the Head Coach accompany his captains to the center of the field for the coin toss? Or does he have to stay at the Hash Marks?

No, Hash Marks.

On a kickoff the kicking team only has 3 players on one side of the kicker. The ball is then kicked. Who throws the flag and whistles the play dead?

The Umpire/Back Judge or the Referee. U/BJ. Gold Book page 15, 21-C-7.

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Force out

Player A in the end zone goes up for a pass near end line. He is HIT while in the air and holds on to the ball but comes down out of the end zone. Had the contact not happened he would have landed in the end zone. Touchdown or not ? Same situation but defender contacts and carries receiver out of end zone. TD or not ?

Incomplete pass. Several years ago NFHS changed the Rule on “Force Out”. Receiver must come down inbounds. It is now the same Rule at all 3 levels of play.

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Defense stomping feet before snap

B1 is standing on the LOS before the snap. B1 stomps his foot and A2 moves. The LJ throws his flag and signals a false start foul on A2. The LM throws his flag signals a UNS foul on B1.

This action results in a UNS foul, not a false start.

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Wearing helmets during the coin toss

Is there a rule on whether captains are to wear helmets during the coin toss?

Their choice. Plus they do not have to shake hands if they do not want to.

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Stop the clock signal when point differential is in effect

When the Point Differential is in effect (30+ point lead in 2nd half), should officials continue to use the ‘stop the clock’ signal when a player goes out of bounds?

Yes, see Gold Book, Page 34, Mechanics # 2 & 3.

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Straight arm: targeting?

Is a straight arm a targeting foul if directed to the opponent’s helmet or facemask?

A straight arm by a player is legal and not a foul for targeting, even though the straight arm is to the player’s helmet, face mask, etc. However, if the straight arm is a overt type of “blow” to the opponent, then it would obviously be a personal foul.

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Visiting team wearing colored jersey

What is the penalty for the visiting team wearing a colored jersey?

Review Case Book play 1-5-1 Situation C. The Referee may ask the visiting team to change to white jerseys, ask the home team to change to white jerseys or play the game if the jerseys contrast. In all instances, report this incident to the proper authorities (Beau Rugg). There is no game penalty (unsportsmanlike conduct) prescribed.

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Options during coin toss

Concerning the coin toss, several crews are giving different options:

  1. HT wins toss and defers, VT which direction do you wish to go.
  2. HT wins toss and defers, VT do want the ball, then ask the HT which goal do they want to defend.

What is the proper procedure?

*I always ask the team that wins the toss if they want to defer (since most do). I they say yes, I tap the captain on the shoulder & signal the Press Box “defer”. If they say no, I ask them if they want to receive (they all do). Then I ask the team that is not receiving to “put their back at the goal they wish to defend the 1st quarter”. That way I can memorize the direction I must run for the KO when I turn them, hopefully, the correct direction.

One time a Big 10 Referee asked the team which goal they wished to defend & the captain said “the North Goal” – the R did not know which goal was the “North Goal”. And this was on National TV.*

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Responsibility for recognizing concussions

I don’t know whether you’re hearing this from other crew chiefs/officials but it’s frequently being said.

At all of our varsity games this year at least one coach or team trainer has stated they don’t want any of the officials making a determination of whether one of their players has signs and/or symptoms of a concussion and should be done for the day.

They’ve stated they would like for us to stop the game and not to conduct any evaluation at all of the player and let their trained medical personnel handle the situation due to the strict restrictions of the Ohio return to play law.

How should crews be handling this when coaches make this request/demand?

I would indicate that you always want to stop the game for any player that is injured and have them evaluated by professionals. Most officials do not want to evaluate injured players. That being said, if you have an obvious concussion symptom with a player, you will be sending them out for that and they will not return.

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Built-in pads

Are players permitted to wear commercial undergarments that have built in hip, tailbone, thigh and/or knee padding INSTEAD of wearing the conventional pad inserts in the football pants?

Legal. See Case Book play 1.5.1 situation G part (b).

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Two kicking plays

Two questions

  1. Player Out of Bounds. I understand the ruling as to why the ball is on the one yard line. This would be the same situation where R is straddling the sideline when he catches a kick off and the ball is in the field of play. My question is: why don’t we have illegal participation. The player is out of bounds by rule and he participated. Do we not enforce illegal participation until the player has both feet out of bounds? Rule 2-29-1 says when any part is touching out of bounds.

  2. Free Kick After Fair Catch. Can a player use a kicking tee for the free kick to score?

Let me answer point 2 first. Yes you certainly may use a tee on ANY free kick including following a fair catch. Now to point 1. My thought is that they believe this does not fit 9-6-1 because k did not come back inbounds. I think they believe it does not fit 9-6-2 because k did not go out of bounds “intentionally”. I do believe 9-6-1 and 9-6-2 are meant for obvious and intentional acts, so I agree with their ruling.

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Use of an iPad

I understand where and who can use technology, such as an iPad, but to what extent can an iPad be used? Are coaches allowed to take pictures or videos and review them during a game or at halftime? What I would like to do is have my coaches in the press box to take a picture of how our opponent lines up to our formations. I would then like to have the coaches verbally relay to me their alignment. Please advise me if this is legal.

What you describe below is perfectly legal. The only restrictions are showing any of this to a player inside the 9 yard marks.

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Headset Communication

DO NFHS rules allow players to wear headsets in their helmets to communicate with coaches as NFL?

This is not permissible by NFHS rules. The specific rule in the Rules Book is Rule 1, Section 5, Article 3-c-2.

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Pink Wristbands

We have a school locally that did pink wristbands for breast cancer awareness. The only problem was they were so big they had to be worn by both teams on the upper arm basically on the bicep where by rule these are illegal. Can they wear these if we see it this year?

Yes they have to meet NFHS rules.

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Sending a player to the sideline during hurry-up

This question concerns sending players off when they are close to getting an UNS. We have done this for years and haven’t had an issue. I am waiting for someone to ask me if we take an official’s TO for this. There are probably going to be times when a defensive player needs to be sent off but the offensive is in a hurry-up and the substitution can’t be made without being put at a disadvantage. Since we don’t want to put the defense at a disadvantage and we don’t want to penalize them when we have identified the issue I would go ahead and take an officials TO. Is this correct?

Send the player when it is appropriate – if A is in a hurry-up, then wait a few plays to where B is not gaining an advantage by the Officials calling an Officials Time-out. Player does not have to be sent immediately after the down is over; officials can wait a few downs until it is appropriate & neither team has gained an advantage.

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Helmet Covers

I saw an article this morning in the USA Today on a “new” helmet cover that is supposed to lesson concussions. This is the first time that I have seen or heard about these. Are these legal? Are they legal with a letter from the state? There is a picture of a high school player from CO and the article goes into depth on how this is going to be used by South Carolina University. Click here to view the article.

Per NFHS these helmet attachments are legal.

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Cooking spray and uniforms

Three equipment questions involving cooking spray:

  1. Can non-stick cooking spray be applied to shoes?


  1. Can non-stick cooking spray be applied to pants/jersey?

Illegal; make them wipe it off.

  1. Can a can of non-stick cooking spray be kept in a player’s pants?


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Wearing black shorts

What are the restrictions on wearing black shorts in varsity and sub-varsity games?

*Varsity Games Only: If worn, the black shorts must be all black (no white stripe) and have belt loops & wear a black belt.

Sub Varsity Games: The all black shorts do not need belt loops and a belt.*

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