High school football rules for clipping and spearing have been modified

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Picayune's #40 demonstrates the proper way to tackle by leading with his eyes up and helmet to the side of the opposing player.

Picayune’s #40 demonstrates the proper way to tackle by leading with his eyes up and helmet to the side of the opposing player.

Each year, the National Federation of State High School Associations adjusts the rules of every sport to not only provide an equal playing field, but to also protect the athletes from injuries.

A few regulations were changed for the 2016-17 football season, including clipping, spearing and a few equipment regulations. The NFSHS also seeks to remind everyone involved in high school football of the changes made last year.

Pearl River Central High School’s Head Football Coach Larry Dolan approves of the rules changes made this year because he feels they will protect athletes from injuries. Mainly, he is relieved with the changes concerning the spearing rule for the upcoming season.

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“The Saints organization supported a Heads Up football clinic for football coaches in Mississippi, which I attended. They taught coaches how to train their staff and students to properly tackle in order to keep everyone safe,” Dolan said. “I think this should be something every coach should attend and be certified for. I have been coaching for over 25 years and still learned something from the clinic.”

Spearing is an act by any player who initiates contact against an opponent at the shoulders or below with the crown of their helmet, states the Mississippi HSAA website. The rule for spearing has been clarified to better understand the technique and the significance of intent.

“What I always tell my kids is ‘eyes up, see what you hit.’ If you accidently hit an opponent with the crown of your helmet because they shifted, but you got your eyes up, the risk of injury is greatly reduced,” Dolan said.

The clipping rule for high school football was also modified for the upcoming season. The exception that allowed clipping in the free-blocking zone has been eliminated from the rule, states the Mississippi HSAA website.

A free-blocking zone is “a rectangular area extending 4 yards to either side of the ball and three yards behind the line of scrimmage,” according to the Mississippi High School Activities Association. A player is considered in the free-blocking zone if any part of his body is in the zone during the snap.

“It’s an appropriate rule. This will definitely reduce the risk of injury on the line of scrimmage. Clipping can cause a lot of knee injuries, which most of us might know, is a harsh injury for football players to go through,” Dolan said.

Also, a couple of equipment rule changes were implemented involving mouth protectors being intact and jerseys covering shoulder pads.

Mouth guards that are chewed up are illegal for this upcoming year. Also, if a jersey does not cover back pads and shoulder pads completely, it, too, is considered illegal according to the Mississippi HSAA website.