Happy April Fools Day!
INDIANAPOLIS – As part of a new experiment to open up the field and reduce injuries, teams will now be permitted to throw a forward pass during kickoff and punt returns, it was announced today by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee.
“We’re trying to open up the game and make it safer,” according to Bob Crest, director of sports and sports medicine at the NFHS and staff liaison for football.
Beginning in 2016, during a kick or punt return, the receiving team may throw a forward pass from anywhere behind where the kick was caught. That spot effectively acts as a neutral zone for the purposes of determining where the pass can be legally thrown.
In this instance, should the receiving team’s forward pass fall incomplete, they’ll have the ball 1st-and-10 from the spot where the ball was thrown.
“This kind of caught everyone by surprise,” said Reitz head football coach Andy Hape. “This will completely change how we approach special teams plays.”
Only a few other minor changes were announced for the 2016 season by the Rules Committee, such as the elimination of the free-blocking zone and expanding the options on what can be worn as a legal tooth and mouth protector.