(WGGB/WSHM) - The Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, or MIAA, has opted to play under a new set of rules this Fall, becoming the last state in the country to do so.
Western mass news dug deeper into the new rulebook to learn about some key differences and see how this change is being received.
The MIAA has changed its rulebook for the 2019 football season.
All member schools are required to follow the National Federation of State High School Associations, or NFHS, rulebook instead of the previously used and more widely-known NCAA handbook.
While the fundamentals of the game remain the same, the MIAA published a list of key differences that fans and coaches are seeing.
- If the offense commits a live ball foul, the enforcement times will be at the spot of the foul or where the play ends.
- Personal foul, unsportsmanlike conduct, and defensive pass interference do not carry an automatic first down. Also the penalty will likely result in a first down, however it is not automatic.
- A kicked ball, whether a punt, kickoff or field goal attempt, that crosses the plane of the goal line is officially a dead ball, there will be no return once the goal line is crossed.
The most noticeable difference will be the quarterback's ability to throw the ball away while under pressure.
In the NFHS rulebook, there is no 'outside the tackle box' area.
The MIAA points out that:
"In the NCAA and NFL levels, if a quarterback is outside of the tackle box, the QB can throw the ball away - as long as it crosses the line of scrimmage - in an effort to avoid a sack. At the high school level there is no such rule. If a QB throws the ball out of bounds with no receiver in the area, outside the tackle box or not, it is a penalty for intentional grounding."
The rules also include stricter penalties for targeting, tripping, and horse collar tackling with an emphasis on safety being the most important thing.