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Official business: August 26, 2002

With school starting and the stifling heat of August upon us, what do we have to look forward to next?

It must be high school football.

What does this mean for referees, coaches, players, and fans? New rules from the National Federation (NF) and the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) come to mind.

This year, the NF rules committee has changed several rules and the OHSAA has added two experimental rules. I will touch on the rule changes from the NF to help the transition into the new season and will cover the experiments in my next installment.

First, the NF has made a change to the clipping rule. Previously, any block in the back was a clip and penalized 15 yards. Now, clipping is only a block in the back below the waist. Any block above the waist and in the back has been changed to blocking in the back which is penalized 10 yards. This change is to make the rule more like the NFL and NCAA.

Next, the options for penalty enforcement on successful two-point conversions has changed. Previously, if the defense committed a foul on a successful two-point conversion, it was automatically declined. This lead to the defense getting &uot;free shots&uot; on the offense and in an effort to bring this to a halt, the offense may now have the penalty enforced on the ensuring kickoff.

Again, this is a rule change to make more like high levels of football.

Another rule change regards fumble recoveries by the defense near its own goal line.

If a defender recovers a fumble in the air or intercepts a backwards pass inside the 5-yard line and his momentum carries him into the end zone, the offense does not score a safety if the defender does not get the ball out of the end zone. The ball will come out to the recovery spot if the defender does not get the ball back into the field of play.

This season, like the last several, the National Federal has taken steps to make the high school game more like the NCAA and NFL. Like it or not, this is the direction they have chosen to go.

With that said, good luck to the area teams and let the season begin.

Mike Mahlmeister is a registered high school official. Any questions may be directed to The Ironton Tribune, c/o Official Business, P.O. Box 647, Ironton, OH 45638. MIKE MAHLMEISTER/Ironton Officials' Chapter