Coaches and players aren’t the only ones who have to adjust to new rules in high school football every season.
One big change this year was the blind-side blocking rule, which makes it illegal for a player to flatten someone on the opposing team who doesn’t see him coming.
Neil Buie, who serves as the football regional supervisor of officials for the Southeastern Athletic Officials Association, said so far there’s been no major problem with enforcing the rule in this area.
“I think the blindside block is more of a learning curve for the officials than the targeting rule, which was put into play a couple of years ago,’’ Buie said. “Targeting was a little easier to figure out.’’
In targeting, a player is guilty of making a deliberate attempt to strike an opponent by making contact with the helmet.
Buie said the blindside block call involves more judgement because officials not only have to see the block coming but also judge if the force used to make contact is excessive.
“Every week I look at video and see some where blindside blocks that weren’t called because they weren’t seen or the official didn’t think the force was there,’’ Buie said. “It’s going to be a time thing to get it right 100 percent.’’
Another thing that will take time is for coaches and players to change longstanding tradition regarding the blindside block. “For so long the blindside block was something you lived for as a football player,’’ Buie said. “You saw that guy that wasn’t paying attention and you said here’s my chance to blow this guy up.
“Having to unteach that is an issue. We’re seeing some evidence of it with open-handed blocks. It’s a learning curve for the players and coaches as well.’’
Aside from the blindside blocking rule, Buie said it’s been a good year for officials so far. “The coaches and student-athletes for the most part have been very well-behaved,’’ he said. “We’ve had very few ejections. As far as disrespectfully addressing the officials and profanity, I don’t recall any ejections for that so far this year.
“I think the sportsmanship aspect of it is being taught by the coaches.’’
Photo caption: Neil Buie, football regional supervisor of officials, Southeastern Athletic Officials Association