02/20/09 — Horse-collar tackle is a penalty now

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Horse-collar tackle is a penalty now

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on February 20, 2009 1:46 PM

Eric Reid likes the change.

Twice last season, the second-year Goldsboro High football coach saw his players on the wrong end of a horse-collar tackle.

Reid asked for a yellow flag.

"Oh no coach, this is not the NFL," said the referee.

Now officials must throw a flag when the play occurs.

Following the lead of the NFL and the NCAA, the National Federation of State High School Associations has banned the horse-collar tackle from high school football.

Starting this fall, tackling a player by grabbing the inside collar of the shoulder pads or jersey will be a personal foul carrying a 15-yard penalty from the spot of the infraction.

"With all the complaints, I think it's justiable to make that change," said Reid. "It's easy to hurt a kid like that ... sprain an ankle, break a leg because the kid is going so fast in forward motion, he's not expecting anything like that to be pulled backwards."

"It could be disastrous."

The board of directors of the Indianapolis-based NFHS ratified the change last week. The NFHS is the governing organization for almost 19,000 high schools in the United States.

The NCAA adopted a similar ban last summer.

"I think it will help keep the kids safe," said Reid.

The high school federation also banned grabbing an opponent's chin strap, along with the existing rules against grabbing the face mask or the edge of a helmet opening.

It also approved a rule mandating that no more than three coaches may be in a designated "restricted" area to talk to players during dead-ball situations, and before the ball is put into play, the coaches must retreat into the team box. It is designed to avoid sideline injuries.

The committee also identified six points of emphasis for 2009:

* illegal personal contact;

* blocking and illegal blocks;

* helmet and face mask;

* uniforms;

* sportsmanship;

* and NFHS guidelines on games interrupted by lightning.

The first practice date is Aug. 1 and the first playing date is Aug. 21 for 2009.