KIF football officials review 2013 rule changes

LIHUE — There will be no overtime in the event of a tie during the Kauai Interscholastic Federation football games, said Jon Kobayashi Tuesday night.

Kobayashi, the athletic director in charge of the KIF football season, said once the no-lights policy takes effect after the Sept. 15 start of the fledging season for Newell’s Shearwater and other endangered birds, the lights cannot be turned on after sunset.

When taking into consideration the athletic directors’ obligation to clean the stadium following the game, Kobayashi said the KIF will not allow overtime play during this season.

The topic of lights and endangered seabirds opened up the meeting of KIF football officials, coaches and their staff at the Kauai High School library.

“This is the real thing,” Kobayashi said. “Last year, we were on probation. This year, it’s for real and the KIF is liable for a $10,000 fine for each take.”

He encouraged fans and football teams to vacate the stadium as quickly as feasible following the games, including pre-season and KIF games ahead of Sept. 15.

Pre-season football games, with the exception of one game, and the first round are being scheduled for Friday nights. When the no-lights policy takes effect, games will be moved to Saturday afternoons for the remainder of the season.

Diane Nitta, the KIF secretary, introduced Matt Sumstine, the Hawaii High School Athletic Association assigner, who covered some of the rule changes ahead of the KIF football season, which begins with pre-season games in August.

“In an effort to minimize the risk of catastrophic head and neck injuries, the National Federation of State High School Football Rules Committee continues to urge keeping the head out of football,” states the NFHS 2013 Football Points of Emphasis. “While the wearing of a football helmet can never guarantee the elimination of head and neck injuries, all levels of football have increased its focus on reducing these types of injuries as much as possible.”

Sumstine, with the use of video from last season’s high school and collegiate football games, outlined the three 2013 football points of emphasis, including prohibition on contact to and with the helmet, reconditioning and recertification of football equipment, and the free blocking zone enforcement — consistent enforcement of blocking below the waist.

With the use of video footage, Sumstine described the free blocking zone as defined in a rectangular area extending laterally four yards either side of the spot of the snap and three yards behind each line of scrimmage.

Some of the 2013 football rules changes include the use of  now legal solid-colored towels. The moisture-absorbing towel cannot be the color of the football or the officials’ penalty flag. Previously, towels could only be white and unmarked.

The new ruling states colors can be used, and cannot have more than one visible manufacturer’s logo or trademark exceeding 2.25 inches square.

The use of communiation devices, including the use of iPads and electronic tablets, has been expanded to allow coaches, players and nonplayers to use any form of available communication technology during authorized conferences outside the 9-yard marks on the sidelines and during the halftime intermission period.

Use of communication devices by players, except during conferences, outside the 9-yard marks continues to be prohibited.

In the interest of minimizing risk, the committee added a new illegal personal contact foul, which is charged to any player who initiates contact with an opposing player whose helmet has come completely off.

Another rule, which focuses on minimizing the illegal participation for players continuing to play without a helmet. 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. The penalty would be a live-ball, basic-spot foul.

Other rule modifications include the definition of a catch clarified, loss of helmet after the down, kick-catching interference penalty, pass interference penalties revision, clarification on score on a try, and blocking on free kicks, revised.

On the pass interference penalties revision, the rule change removes the automatic first down for defensive pass interference and the loss of down for offensive pass interference. The 15-yard penalty provision remains for both fouls.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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