The National Federation of High Schools passed two new rules for the 2017 season that will  prohibit a “blindside block” and a “pop-up” onside kick.

The NFHS defined a blindside block as “a block against an opponent other than the runner, who does not see the blocker approaching.” The blocker must initiate contact with open hands or be subject to a 15-yard penalty.

NFHS specific examples of a blindside block:

  1. A player in the act of or just after throwing a pass;
  2. A receiver attempting to catch a pass who has not had time to clearly become a runner;
  3. The intended receiver of a pass in the action during and immediately following an interception or potential interception;
  4. A runner already in the grasp of a tackler and whose forward progress has been stopped;
  5. A kickoff or punt returner attempting to catch or recover a kick, or one who has completed a catch or recovery and has not had time to protect himself or has not clearly become a ball carrier;
  6. A player on the ground including a ball carrier who has obviously given himself up and is sliding feet-first;
  7. A player obviously out of the play or not in the immediate vicinity of the runner; and
  8. A player who received a blindside block with forceful contact not initiated with open hands.



The new NFHS definition of a pop-up kick in Rule 2-24-10 is defined as

“a free kick in which the kicker drives the ball immediately to the ground, the ball strikes the ground once and goes into the air in the manner of a ball kicked directly off the tee.”

Stateline area coaches were asked to give us their thoughts on the new rules.

Coldwater Head Coach Chip Otten:

Not a real fan of the blocking rule. Football is a physical game and telling a player he can’t block with his shoulder pads just adds to more judgement calls that the ref will have to make in a split second and sometimes not seeing the whole play.  Do agree on any hit on a defenseless player who has nothing to do with the play should be illegal as it has been.

On second rule, I guess we should assume the ball must bounce at least 2 times or be rolling to be a legal onside.  Ok with that rule,  but once again punishes a skill that a kicker has that another team’s kicker may not have.

South Adams Head Coach Grant Moser

I understand the importance of keeping the game safe and that there needs to be changes in order for that to happen. It is my job to make sure my players are aware of rule changes.

I will admit it becomes frustrating at times as a Coach. In a game last year, we had a legal block 10-15 yards up field in front of the ball where one of our OLineman layed out a safety (as our ball carrier was being tackled behind him) This was flagged as unnecessary roughness. I don’t think this should ever be called on blockers that are in front of the ball carrier.

Jay County Head Football Coach Tim Millspaugh:

While I do not oppose the change regarding a blindside block, my fear is that anytime an official sees someone getting knocked to the ground, they will throw a flag regardless of open-hand block or not.

Also, I am completely against the change to the onside kick.  First, we already have a rule in place to protect level one players from getting blown up.  Two, we kicked three onside kicks last season and had two kicked against us.

I am all for improving player safety but this is a play that does not occur very often. I think it is a great idea to make improvements to areas where it needs it, but lets not make changes for change sake.  That will ruin our game.  Thanks for gathering opinions on these rule changes.

Long-time High School football official Pat Houseworth of Celina:

.Just two more rules that they expect  officials to look at while watching 22 players, they wonder why we don’t have enough young officials willing to work?  Constant changes are one reason. The first rule change can be written as a “Safety” concern, there is Zero reason for the second one.

Football like many other sports continues to evolve.  Football in the 1880’s doesn’t look much like the modern day game. The kick-off, which was eliminated in Pop Warner football, is under the microscope at both the high school and college level.  The ‘pop up’ onside kick, could be the direction in the future to possibly eliminate it at these two levels.  The ‘blindslide block’, although a safety measure, now puts a lot of pressure on the officials on the field.

The changes are not done, they are just beginning.

Related stories:


Rules Changes Are Nothing New To Football

The sport of football continues to evolve, it was not unusual for constant changes in the very early years of football.

Walter Camp, the “Father of American Football” was instrumental at the Massasoit House conventions where rules were debated and changed.

His first rule proposal was rejected in 1878, but passed in 1880.
A reduction from fifteen players to eleven, with hopes to open up the game.


  • establishment of the line of scrimmage
  • the snap from center to a quarterback,  the snap was executed with the foot of the center.  Later it was allowed for the center to snap the ball with the hands,  through
    the air or by a direct hand-to-hand pass.


  •  the field was reduced in size to its modern dimensions of 120 by 53 1/3 yards.


  • a team is required to advance the ball a minimum of five yards within three downs.


  • four points for a touchdown,
  • two points for a kick after touchdown
  • two points for safeties
  • five for field goals


  • length of a game was set at two halves of 45 minutes each
  • two paid officials-areferee and an umpire-were mandated for each game.


  • allow tackling below the waist


  • officials were given whistles and stopwatches.