Horse-collar tackles banned at high school level

INDIANAPOLIS -- 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.

"Though this play does not happen often, we must ensure that our coaches and officials understand the importance of penalizing this act," said Julian Tackett, assistant commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and chairman of the NFHS football rules committee.

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

The NCAA adopted a similar ban last summer.

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.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press