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Coaching changes and conference realignment have been all the rage this offseason.
We'll get to those in a minute while we discuss something different — rules.
Yes, rules aren't exciting, but you're a football fan, so you best know them. You don't want to be that fool screaming at the officials because you don't know the difference high school and NFL rules.
The esteemed Bob Barton, an outstanding chap, informed Polecat HQ that the National Federation of State High School Association of a few rule changes or next season.
The big un' is pass interference. Defensive interference is no longer an automatic first down. It's still a 15-yard penalty, but if it's third-and-16 and the defense gets flagged 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, then it's not a first down. You'll still see a lot of defenses give up the first down because of that penalty, though
Offensive pass interference, meanwhile, is no longer a loss of down. They'll still lose 15 yards, but that's it.
"Offensive and defensive pass interference, and the penalty structure related to these fouls, has been debated many times in recent years," Brad Garrett, chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee and assistant executive director of the Oregon School Activities Association, said via press release.
"Proposals that either deleted the loss of down or the automatic first down — but not both — failed to gain support among committee members. The proposal to eliminate both components, thus not upsetting the balance between offense and defense, was the key factor in the adoption of the new rule."
Eh, the defense is still getting hosed more than the offense. Always has. Always will.
The committee also added three "risk-minimization" rules for when a player loses his helmet. Last season, they ruled that any player who loses his helmet must sit out one play. The additions to that rule are:
■ "No player or nonplayer shall initiate contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off."
■ "It is illegal participation 'for a player whose helmet comes completely off during a down to continue to participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged.'
■ "If the helmet comes completely off during the down or subsequent dead-ball action related to the down — and is not directly attributable to a foul by the opponent — the player must leave the game for at least one down, with the exception of halftime or overtime intermission. When this occurs, an official's time-out shall be called."
"With its continued focus on risk minimization, the committee determined that a helmet-less player shall not block, tackle or otherwise participate beyond the immediate action in which the player is engaged when the helmet came completely off," Bob Colgate, NFHS director of sports and sports medicine, said in the press release. "The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul."
The committee also clarified its definition of a catch (Rule 2-4-1). They had already required the receiver to "establish" possession and stay inbounds no matter what an opponent did to them.
"An airborne player who has forward progress stopped inbounds and is carried out of bounds by an opponent before contacting the ground is awarded a catch at the spot of forward progress," Colgate said.
You can read the other rules HERE.
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One of the most popular catch phrases of our generation's greatest athlete, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, is, "to be the man, you've got to beat the man."
State high school football coaches and athletic directors have often ignored Flair's golden rule, opting to schedule jobbers in non-league games. They fear they'll lose to a quality opponent and cost themselves a playoff berth, but they forget that you don't prepare for states by whipping cupcakes like the South Park Cows.
HATS OFF, then, to a few schools who decided to get themselves some competition and scheduled home-and-home series for the 11-game 2013 and 2014 seasons.
East Lyme and New London will both play Middletown, as first reported by Gentleman Jim Bransfield of the Middletown Press. The Blue Dragons will play host to East Lyme this season and play at New London.
Whalers' coach Duane Maranda said that his team also scheduled Hartford's Capital Prep/Classical Magnet/Achievement First co-op. The Trailblazers finished 10-0 in each of the last two regular seasons, won the Constitution State Conference, and qualified for the Class S playoffs. They'll play host to the Whalers this fall.
Norwich Free Academy and Glastonbury will also hook 'em up. Glastonbury gets the home game this year.
Kyle Brennan of the NVL Blog, Waterbury Republican-American, and Chase Avenue Taco Bell also unearthed next season's NVL schedules.
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There's not much to report on the SCC adding Pequot Football Conference teams.
"The Mouth Of the Shore", Jimmy Zanor, got folks yapping last Thursday when he tweeted that some Pequot teams were looking to join the SCC in 2015.
SCC commissioner Al Carbone said that there haven't been any discussions with those teams, but that he had been invited to the Shoreline Conference athletic directors meeting later this month.
The Shoreline Conference doesn't have football, so eight of its teams play in the Pequot — Coginchaug, Cromwell, Haddam-Killingworth, Hyde, Morgan, North Branford, Old Saybrook-Westbrook, and Valley Regional-Old Lyme.
Carbone told Chris Hunn of JRC Amalgamated Monday that, "the SCC has always talked about getting bigger."
The SCC currently has 19 teams broken up into two, two-team divisions.
The addition of Pequot schools would make for interesting scheduling. Most of its teams are small schools, whereas the majority of SCC teams are in Class LL or L.
Three of the Pequot's most successful teams of late have been Hyde (153 boys), North Branford (313) and Valley Regional-Old Lyme (384).
The SCC's smallest school is Sheehan (450).
"Schools in our league could play the M schools," North Branford coach Mark Basil told Hunn. "The Ls and LLs scare you. I don't know how scheduling would work out."
If you're the type of person who likes to draw wild conclusions without all the facts, then note that North Branford's hockey team joined the SCC's Division II this winter. Or that Hyde is one of only two New Haven teams not in the SCC (Amistad Academy is the other).
"I think for Hyde, for our program, we wouldn't have a problem competing," Hyde coach Melvin Wells told Hunn. "Can we play a Division II schedule? Yes… It's very interesting."
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Chris Piccirillo of Shore Publishing reported last Friday that Branford elevated defensive coordinator John Limone to head coach. Limone played football and baseball at the school and graduated in 2002.
There are still TWELVE teams that need head coaches — Abbott Tech, Bunnell, East Haven, Fairfield Ludlowe, Fitch, Old Saybrook/Westbrook, Rockville, St. Bernard/Norwich Tech, Stamford, Torrington, Wilby, and Woodstock Academy.
East Lyme returned just five players with any varsity experience and lost its first four games. It's made gradual improvement and downed Woodstock Academy last Friday, 42-7, its second-straight victory.