Almost time for football

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

Other newspapers have commented that it is not yet time to concentrate on football, while, at the same time, they sprinkle their sports sections with football stories. The really fervent fan thinks there are only two sports seasons &8212; football season and spring practice season. The extremely fervent fans break it down even further. Those fans break the season down into two-a-days, the regular season, bowl season, recruiting season, spring practice, and so on. Most of my readers, I assume, are the seasonal fans. These are the fans that if they don&8217;t have children or grandchildren playing, pay attention to the game only during the regular season.

One rule that is often misunderstood by fans and even some officials is the encroachment rule in high school football.The neutral zone is established when the referee marks the ball ready for play. The neutral zone is defined as the area between imaginary lines marking the two ends of the football when it is perpendicular to the goal lines. After the center places his hand on the ball, no offensive or defensive lineman may enter that zone, except substitutes and replaced players who might pass through that zone as they enter or leave the game from or to their sideline areas. Bear in mind that those restrictions do not happen until the referee marks the ball ready for play.

In a scrimmage kick situation, you often see offensive linemen, from a two-point stance reach out and point to opponents to clear up blocking assignments. Since the high school rulebook does not address this situation, it is technically a foul. Custom and common sense generally rule in that situation, however, so you should never see that violation called. College rules address that directly, and include an exception to the false start rules.

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When discussing high school football rules, I will often refer not only to the National Federation of High School Activities Football Rule Book, but also to the 2006 Edition of the Redding Study Guide to NFHS Football Rules, written by George Dementriou and Rogers Redding. This manual, though written for officials, is easy to read and understand and would certainly be a solid addition to the library of any high school football fan.

And, That&8217;s Official.

Al Graning is a former SEC official and former Natchez resident. He can be reached by e-mail at