The NFL and NCAA have made players’ safety a priority in recent years.
Now, the National Federation of State High School Associations is following suit.
The NFHS, of which the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association is a member, recently approved a rule against “targeting” that is designed to eliminate contact to the head and decrease the risk of injury in prep football.
The new rule goes into effect for the 2014 season and was among 10 changes approved by the NFHS Board of Directors last month.
According to a news release from the NFHS, “(t)argeting is an act of taking aim and initiating contact to an opponent above the shoulders with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulders” and players will be penalized 15 yards for illegal personal contact.
The release did not indicate whether players will be ejected for targeting, similar to the NCAA’s rule.
In addition, the NFHS Football Rules Committee added a new definition for a “defenseless player.” Much like the NFL’s policy, a defenseless player is one “who, because of his physical position and focus of concentration, is especially vulnerable to injury.”
“Everybody has the best interests of the kids in mind with these rules,” Foothill football coach Marty Redmond said. “I think it will help teams keep kids safe.”
Aside from the new definitions for “targeting” and a “defenseless player,” the most significant changes instituted by the NFHS came on kickoffs.
In an effort to limit the run-up for the kicking team, players may be no more than 5 yards behind the free-kick line prior to the ball being kicked. And kicking teams will now be required to have at least four players on either side of the kicker, which will alter how many teams line up to attempt an onside kick.
Roughing-the-passer penalties will result in an automatic first down in addition to a 15-yard penalty.
“Football has an inherent risk,” Redmond said. “Kids can go out and enjoy the game when it’s taught correctly, and a lot go through the game injury-free. These rules will keep the games fair and keep the kids safe.”
■ GAELS RANKED — The Bishop Gorman baseball team, which had its streak of seven straight large-school state championships halted last year, is ranked No. 12 in the USA Today Super 25 preseason poll.
The Gaels return seven regulars from last year’s squad, including UNR signees Michael Blasko and Cole Krzmarzick, along with talented juniors Cadyn Grenier and Alex Perron.
Gorman opens its season March 20 at the Coach Bob National Invitational near Phoenix.
■ BULLDOGS GARNER NOTICE — Defending Division I state champion Centennial is ranked No. 43 in the Student Sports Fab 50 preseason softball poll.
The Bulldogs are led by state player of the year Savannah Horvath, who signed with Cal State-Northridge, and Utah-bound Heather Bowen.
Centennial’s first game is scheduled for March 13 at the prestigious Tournament of Champions in Bullhead City, Ariz.
■ RECRUITNG WATCH — Bishop Gorman sophomore Emily Martin made an oral commitment to Texas for women’s soccer. ... Bishop Gorman senior Tristan Blackmon signed a letter of intent with Pacific for men’s soccer. ... Moapa Valley senior Justin Hughes signed a letter of intent to play football at Eastern Oregon. Hughes was the Division I-A state defensive player of the year.
Contact reporter David Schoen at email@example.com or 702-387-5203. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidSchoenLVRJ.