‘Blindside block’ rule gains two-year trial in Oregon high school football

By on May 8, 2015


For the next two seasons, Oregon high school football will be a testing ground for a new rule that prohibits blindside blocks.The OSAA executive board voted 8-2 Monday in favor of the experiment, which is the idea of assistant executive director Brad Garrett, the chairman of football rules committee for the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).Garrett will consult with officials to write the rule and distribute materials to Oregon schools and officials associations in the next few months. Blindside blocking is legal in high school football, although in some cases it could be penalized as unnecessary roughness.“There are certainly occasions when blindside blocks are excessive and unnecessary,” Garrett said. “They’re legal, but they’re devastating. So it’s a pretty fine line, but yet one that we want to try to explore to reduce those numbers of really devastating type hits.”According to Garrett, it is a similar situation to the targeting rule that was implemented in high school football last year. Other rules had long been in place to prohibit targeting, he said, but until it was defined on its own, officials were hesitant to call it.“If you’re going to change the culture of the game, you’ve got to bring it out to emphasize it,” Garrett said.Garrett got the idea for a blindside block rule during an NFHS committee meeting this year. Upon returning to Oregon, he consulted a group of officials about its feasibility. They agreed it could be done and offered their help.Garrett got permission from the NFHS to proceed with the two-year trial. He and a group of officials have developed a one-page syllabus with some case plays, but they still have plenty of work to do before distributing the information.“Nothing is ever easy, but until you actually attempt to do something, you never know what the result is,” Garrett said. “The goal would be that this would lead to a rule-change proposal to define blindside blocks and include it in the penalty structure. We have to supply data to support that proposal.”The OSAA sent video examples of what would be considered blindside blocks to coaches and asked them to rate their support for the rule on a scale of 1 to 10. For the 74 coaches that responded, the average support was 6.1. Ten coaches rated a 1, and 13 rated a 10.Among the responses in favor (names removed to protect privacy):

Among the responses against:

Some coaches questioned the wisdom of adding another judgment call to the game. Jack Folliard, executive director of the Oregon Athletic Officials Association, expressed similar concerns at Monday’s meeting.“I don’t know if we all can agree on what is unnecessary and excessive,” Folliard said. “This will be a very, very difficult thing to teach officials. What used to be legal for 50 years is now illegal in a very fast moving motion.”The borderline calls are part of why Silverton principal Mark Hannan was one of two executive board members to vote against the two-year trial.“I just don’t know how you do that in any way consistently,” Hannan said. “I’m concerned that it’s going to be hard to manage at game speed.” See more…

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