Football Rules

Divisions

  • Jr. Flyweight (5, 6, & 7 yr. old)
  • Flyweight (8 & 9 yr. old)
  • Mighty Mites (10 & 11 yr. old)
  • Jr. Varsity (12 & 13 yr. old)

Age Limits

The birthdate cutoff for the oldest age of each division is the 31st of August of the current year except for the Jr. Varsity; its cutoff date is the 1st of January of the current year.

Weight Limits

There are no weight limits for any division.

Academic Requirement

Players in the Flyweight through Jr. Varsity divisions must be enrolled in a school program.

Roster Deadline

Players may be added to team rosters until 11:59 p.m. on the 31st of August. 

Conditioning Requirements

Each player will receive a minimum of 10 hours of conditioning before conducting any player-to-player contact or contact drills with dummies.  The head coach may waive this requirement if the player has received the required amount of conditioning as part of a Pasco County middle school football program.

Conditioning Camps

Camps may be conducted in the off season for participants registered in the PAL system. No contact, player on player, is allowed, and this does not count toward required conditioning once the regular season starts.


 

Lightening

All Organizations are required to always have a lightening detector onsite.

All activities are suspended when lightening is within 10 miles. There is a mandatory wait time of 30 minutes after the 1st lightening strike within 10 miles. If during those 30 minutes there is another lightening strike within the 10 miles, the clock re-starts from that point.

Practice hours

The PAL executive board will set the date for first day of practice. 

Practice hours before the first day of school in Pasco County are from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a limit of 10 hours per week. 

Practice hours on the first day of school are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a limit of 6 hours per week. 

Practices hours during the playoffs are from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a maximum of 10 hours per week. 

Directors desiring to temporarily modify the practices times must submit their request in writing to the PAL executive director. Head coaches desiring to temporarily modify their practice times must submit their request via their director to the PAL executive director.  The request must state the reason and duration for the modification.  The PAL executive director will reply to the request, in writing, within a reasonable amount of time.  If a director and/or head coach modifies the practice time without written consent from the PAL executive director, the organization will receive a $250.00 fine and the head coach will receive a suspension of one week of practice and one game for each day of violation of the practice hours.

Practice Participation Requirements

Players must physically participate in practices, 4 hours minimum, during the week to be eligible to play on Saturdays.  A player may miss one practice during the week and remain eligible.  

Coming to practice and watching does not constitute attendance of practice unless permission is granted by either the director and/or athletic director.

Head coaches will keep written attendance reports for practice and turn them in to the organization’s athletic director on a weekly basis and they will be retained for the remainder of the season.  These reports will be made available upon request to the opposing team’s director or any PAL executive board member.

Scrimmage Games

Scrimmage games may only take place between teams of the same division. 

Non-PAL scrimmage games must receive the approval of the PAL executive board before being conducted. 

Failure to comply will result in a $250.00 organization fine.

Rules of Play

The National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) rules book governs the field of play with the following exceptions:

#1 Game ball specifications: The Jr. Flyweights and Flyweights will use a Wilson K-2 or its equivalent.  The Mighty Mites and Jr. Varsity will use a Wilson TDJ or its equivalent. Game ball must be leather.

#2 Period of timing: Each quarter is 10 minutes; halftime is 10 minutes; and the mandatory warm-up after halftime is 3 minutes.

#3 Resolving tied games: Regular season games will be limited to two overtimes and conducted per the format in the NFHS rules book.

#4 Mercy Rule: Once a 35 point or 5 Touchdown differentials is reached after halftime, the game will automatically move to a running clock without the approval of either head coach and will only stop for timeouts or injuries. The clock will not go back to a regular regardless of point differential.

As part of the mercy rule. the team leading by 35 points can no longer pass the ball. 

#5 Video Taping: If a team decides to video tape its game, it may only do so on its side of the field outside of the coach's box between the goal line and 25-yard line. Any person wanting to video tape a game must clear it with the hosting team's director.

#6 Coaches on the Field: The Jr. Flyweight division can have an offensive coach and a defensive coach on the field of play for all games. The coach for the offense and the coach for the defense may communicate with their team until the line is set. 

Once the line is set, all communications with their team stops and the offensive coach must move behind the referee and the defensive coach must move behind the back judge; failure to obey this rule will result in a penalty of unsportsmanlike conduct.


 

#7 Jr Fly Center: No Player in the Jr. Flyweight division may line up over the center unless a minimum of 2-yards behind the defensive line. Otherwise, inside shoulder of defense line must be in line with the outside shoulder of the center.

#8 Jr Fly Field:  All Jr. Flyweight games shall be played on an 80-yard field, no kick-offs will be allowed in the Jr. Flyweight program. The starting line will be the 35-yard line.

#9 Jr Fly and Fly Punt: Both Jr Fly and Flyweight will be both have the option to walk off a punt of 20 yards or kick. 

#10 Visors: Visors are permitted at league discretion.

9-Man Football

A team that has 13 players or less may elect to play 9-man football.  If so, the organization’s director must notify the opposing team’s director and the PAL executive director via phone/email/ or text message no later than 7 p.m. on Tuesday before that week’s game. 

Failure to do so will result in a forfeit.  The head coaches have the option to mutually agree to play 11-man football on game day. All 9-man games will be played on a 80 yard field. A team can fall below 9 men to 8 men without forfeiting. Both teams will drop to 8 man. A team cannot fall below 8 men, if so that game will be a forfeit.

Game Sequence and Times

Changes to game times must be approved by the PAL executive board.

Jr. Flyweights: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Flyweights: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Mighty Mites: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Jr. Varsity: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Coach’s Game Attendance

A coach from the team must be present for the team to take the field.

Sideline limits

1 head coach, 4 assistant coaches (includes play counter)

2 white hats, 2 team parents (must be behind coaches' box)

1 PSC, 1 safety officer. Up to 11 (cannot exceed) total adults can be on the sideline.

Failure to Field a Team

Any organization that cannot field a team will forfeit the game and pay a $200.00 fine or cover the cost of the referees for the opposing team for the forfeited game (Maximum $200.00 fine per division per game day). Within a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours advance notice then no penalty. These fines may be waived by the PAL executive director by showing of just cause.

Make-Up Games / Lighting

It is PAL policy that all leagues must have a lighting meter or weather bug app. Once lighting registers between 6-8 miles on either device practice and or game play must stop for 30 minutes. At this point we will follow NFHS rules.

Games that are cancelled or discontinued will be rescheduled to be played on the immediately following the regularly scheduled game.  Failure to participate in a continued or rescheduled game will result in a forfeit.

Should officials be scheduled and the opposing team forfeits, then the forfeit fee will apply.

Mandatory Play Rule

Mandatory play count for all rostered players is 8 plays, with the exception of 9-man which will be a minimum of 4 plays. Replaying of a down due to a penalty does not count toward the required minimum number of plays.  Failure to comply with the mandatory play rule will result in a forfeit and suspension of the head coach for one week of practice and one game.

Play Counting

Plays are counted during the game by both teams and will be turned in to their directors upon completion of the game who will in turn place them in the PAL Drop Box folder by 6 p.m. on the Sunday following the game.  

If a team wants to play count the opposing team, it must be requested at the time of check-in to the opposing team’s director or designee.  If a team is being play counted by the opposing team, the play counter must be on the sidelines of the team being play counted and advise the head coach as to their presence.  They will stand next to the team play counter.  Play counters will compare each count at the end of each quarter and any discrepancies brought to the attention of each director.  Play counters will remain with the team during the entire game to include halftime and must not use any communication device. 

If a play count sheet cannot be produced at the request of the PAL executive director, the head coach is subject to suspension.

Post-Game Handshake

Players will conduct a post-game handshake while wearing helmets.  The coaches and at least one white hat from each organization will be on the field and shake hands as well.  Coaches that fail to comply could face a one game suspension.  Teams will leave the field immediately following the post-game handshake, i.e., no team meeting on the field.

Turning in Scores

The home team must turn in scores by 6 p.m. on the Sunday following the game to the PAL executive director.  The PAL executive director may request that scores be phoned in instead of emailed, but in either case, they must be received by 6 p.m. on Sunday or the violating organization will be fined $50.00.

Post-Season

The playoff schedule will be produced by the PAL executive director.  Seeding for teams that share the same record will be determined by the following: #1 Head-to-head record; #2 points scored against, and #3 a coin toss.

Post-Season Play Participation Requirement

Players must participate in at least 6 of the 10 regular season games to be eligible to participate in post-season play.  If a player misses more than four games due to legitimate medical conditions and a detailed doctor’s note is provided, the PAL executive director may elect to deem that player eligible for post-season.

Organization directors wishing to have post-season eligibility granted to any player missing more than four games, due to a legitimate medical condition must request in writing, along with the supporting documents provided by a physician, to the PAL executive director 4 days prior to the scheduled event.  The PAL executive director will determine player eligibility on a case-by-case basis.


 

Check-In Procedures

The home team will designate check-in area.  Rosters will be in numerical order for each division.  Each player’s official file must be available at the check-in and for the entire game day for the opposing director or a PAL executive board member.  Directors or a designee are responsible for the official records.  Each team will give a roster to opposing team’s director and to the announcer. Late check-ins are at the discretion of the opposing team's Director.

Players are required to be present for check-in 1 hour before the start of their game or during the halftime of the preceding game, whichever is sooner.  Each player will be lined up in numerical order as listed on the roster and must be in possession of their official game jersey at the time of check-in.  

Each director or designee will initial in each assigned block as follows:

if the player is available for play – director or designee’s Initials;

Injured – I; Absent – A; Sick – S; Disciplinary – D; Quit – Q; Vacation – V, Present but Injured – PI.  Players must be at roster check-in to play. 

Hosting Organization Field Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the home team to ensure all equipment for play is available and the field is marked according to NFHS rules. 

 Additionally, each organization shall create an 18 ft. buffer zone between the sidelines and the spectators.  The buffer zone shall be the entire length of the field, be on the home and visiting team’s sidelines, and be identified as being roped off. 

The following individuals are allowed in the buffer zone: PAL executive board members; white hats of the team’s organization; coaches, team parents, and play counter of the team that is playing; reporters, videographers, and photographers are at the discretion of the head coach.

Line-to-gain crews are the responsibility of the Away team and will be established per NFHS rules.  The NFHS rules cover general instructions, pregame duties, and game procedures. 

It is the responsibility of the home team to ensure payment of the officiating crew to the PAL Executive Board either day of or submit a check no later than Monday following the game day.

Timing and Quarter Length

Each age Division will have a 10-minute clock per quarter

Play Clocks

40-second play clock

Clock Stoppages

  • Timeouts
  • At the end of each quarter
  • On an incomplete pass
  • When a ball-carrier runs out of bounds
  • On a penalty
  • When a player is injured
  • When a team scores
  • When the ball changes possession
  • When officials measure for a first down

For youth, high school and college football, the clock will restart on an official’s ready-to-play whistle after:

  • The chains are reset following a first down.
  • An injured player is removed from the field.
  • The ball is set after a change of possession

Different on Sundays

The NFL:

  • does not stop the clock for a first down unless the runner or ball goes out of bounds.
  • stops the clock for a 2-minute warning at the end of each half. This does not exist on the high school or college levels.
  • will not restart the clock for some penalties until the next snap
  • NFHS: Once the ball breaks the plane of the goal line, the play is blown dead and a touchback is called. Defensive players can stand in the end zone and bat a ball back as long as the ball does not cross that plane.
  • NCAA and NFL: The play is blown dead once a ball lands in the end zone or a defensive player who has stepped into the end zone touches the ball.
  • NFHS: The play is dead, and a foul is called as soon as a player enters the neutral zone. There is no “getting back” before the snap.
  • NCAA and NFL: Players have the opportunity to return to their side of the neutral zone unless contact is made with an opponent, or a game official deems the player’s penetration into the other side too deep and stops play for safety reasons.
  • NFHS: Think of field goal attempts under NFHS rules the same way you do a punt. The ball remains live for the return team until it reaches the end zone, rolls out of bounds or is downed by the kicking team. A touchback returns the ball to the 20-yard line. A kick that stops short of the end zone and is downed is spotted there.
  • NCAA and NFL: Missed field goals can be returned by the defense as long as they stay in bounds. Missed kicks that go out of bounds or roll dead come back to the point of the kick and possession changes.
  • NFHS: The defense can never score on an extra-point try. Once the kick is away or the 7 defense gains possession of the ball, the play is over.
  • NCAA: At the college level, if the point-after try is blocked on or behind the line of scrimmage and continues into the end zone, where it touches the ground before being touched by another player, the ball becomes dead and the try down is over. If the kick is blocked and recovered before reaching the end zone, then the defense can pick it up and return it for a possible two points.
  • NFL: Since 2015, the defense can score two points on an extra-point try by blocking a kick or causing a turnover and returning it to the opposite end zone.
  • NFHS: The only fouls in the NFHS rule book that result in an automatic first down are:
    • Roughing the passer
    • Roughing the kicker, holder or snapper (and only if a team is in a scrimmage-kick formation at the snap)
  • NFHS:The only fouls in the NFHS rule book that result in in a loss of down are:
    • Illegal forward pass (grounding)
    • Illegal forward handoff
    • Illegal touching of a forward pass
  • NFHS and NCAA: One foot must be established inbounds for legal possession of the ball.
  • NFL: Two feet established inbounds are required.

Different Rules, Different Levels

Touchbacks on Kicks

Neutral Zone Infractions

Missed Field Goals

Extra Points

Automatic First Down

Loss of Down

Legal Catch

Penalties

Offensive Penalties

Delay of Game: Upon the ready for play whistle, the offense has 25 seconds to snap the ball and begin the next play. Also, any deliberate action by a player to delay the spotting of the ball to begin the next play.

•        Enforcement: Dead ball penalty. Five yards.

  • NCAA and NFL Rule: A play that ends naturally without a penalty, change of possession, injury or other stoppage of play initiates a 40-second play clock immediately upon the dead ball whistle.

 

Illegal Substitution: During the same dead ball interval, no player can withdraw and re-enter as a substitute unless a penalty is accepted, a dead-ball foul occurs, there is a charged time out or the period ends. Also, if the offense breaks the huddle with more than 11 players.

•        Enforcement: Dead ball penalty. Five yards.

Blocking Below the Waist: Any block below the waist outside of the free blocking zone exception, which allows players positioned within the tackle-to-tackle box at the snap to block an opponent below the waist. This rule applies to both offensive players and defensive players, who cannot engage a non-ballcarrying offensive player below the waist (exception for an offensive player carrying out a fake).

•        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

  • NCAA Rule: Offensive players can cut defenders only if the blocker approaches from the front.

The general rule of “10 o’clock to 2 o’clock” is legal for non-linemen who are outside the tackle to-tackle box at the snap.

Different on Sundays:

NFL players have a much freer range to block below the waist both downfield and by non-linemen. Cut blocks are only illegal on kicking plays.

Chop Block: A block below the waist on an opponent who is already engaged with another blocker.

•        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

Clipping: Blocking or falling into the back of an opponent from the waist down.

•        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

Equipment Violation: Failure to wear required equipment or wearing non-approved equipment during a down.

•        Enforcement: Five yards if dead ball foul at the snap.

•        Enforcement: 15 yards if live ball foul during the play.

  • NCAA Rule: This is a 15-yard penalty if flagged during a play under NCAA rules. If caught before the snap, there is no foul, but the player must be removed from the game.

 

Illegal Formation: Failure to have at least seven players on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards.
  • NCAA Rule: The NCAA rulebook does not require seven on the line of scrimmage. The requirement is no more than four players in the backfield.

Illegal Shift: Failure of all 11 offensive players to be stationary simultaneously for at least one second prior to the snap, a player going in motion or a legal shift. Also, two players in motion at the same time during the snap.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards.

Illegal Helmet Contact: Any butt block, face tackle, spear or other intentional use of the helmet to butt or ram an opponent. Any contact by the crown of the helmet to a defenseless player. Any contact to a defenseless player’s head or neck area.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.
  • NCAA Rule: The NCAA also carries potential “targeting” for illegal helmet contact on a defenseless player that can lead to an ejection. No such automatic rule is in place within NFHS guidelines.

Illegal Forward Pass: Any forward pass with either foot beyond the neutral zone or a second forward pass within a down.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards. Loss of down.
  • NCAA Rule: At the NCAA level, both feet and the ball must be beyond the neutral zone to incur this foul.11

Ineligible Receiver Downfield: Any ineligible receiver beyond the expanded neutral zone – typically three yards beyond the line – before the last legal pass is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage to beyond the line of scrimmage.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards.

Intentional Grounding: Any forward pass thrown into an area where there are no eligible receivers – except for a legal spike following a snap under center.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards from spot of foul. Loss of down. There is no “outside the pocket” exception for leagues using NFHS rules.
  • NCAA Rule: This is a spot foul and loss of down under NCAA rules. No additional yardage.

Different on Sundays:

Like the NCAA, a passer outside the pocket can throw the ball out of bounds anywhere past the line of scrimmage and not be penalized.

False Start: Any shift, motion or movement that simulates action at a snap.

  • Enforcement: Dead ball foul. Five yards.

Defensive Penalties

Horse Collar Tackle: Grasping a ball-carrier by the back collar or inside the shoulder pads, then pulling the ball-carrier back and toward the ground.

Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

Illegal Kick: Popup kicks in which a kicker drives the ball into the ground in an attempt to make it go up in the air and not come down until the coverage team can converge on the landing spot.

  • Enforcement: Dead ball foul. 15 yards.12
  • NCAA Rule: This is a legal kickoff within the NCAA rulebook with some limitations
  • Same on Sundays: The NFHS and NFL both outlaw these types of onside kicks.

Offside: Any player entering the neutral zone once the ball is ready for play and before the snap.

  • Enforcement: Dead ball foul. Five yards.

Different than Sundays:

There is no “getting back” before the snap. Once a defensive player enters the neutral zone, the play is blown dead.

Roughing the Passer: A continued effort to knock or tackle a passer after the ball has been thrown.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards. Automatic first down.

Roughing the Kicker/Holder: Any contact with potential harm on the kicker or holder after a placed kick is away. Nullified by a defender making contact with a kicked ball behind the line of scrimmage or being blocked into a player.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards. Automatic first down.

.

Roughing the Snapper: Any contact on the snapper during the execution of a PAT, field goal or punt before the player is allowed the opportunity to regain his or her balance.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards. Automatic first down.

All-Player Fouls

Blindside Block: Any block against an opponent other than the runner, who does not see the blocker approaching unless it is initiated with open hands.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.
  • NCAA Rule: A blindside block in the NCAA is legal unless it is targeting.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL enforcement is narrower in that a player must deliver the block with the helmet, forearm or shoulder to the head or neck area of a defender. This rule also encompasses hits on defenseless receivers.

Facemask: Grasping an opponent’s face mask or any edge of a helmet’s opening.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Either five yards (incidental) or 15 yards (excessive).
  • NCAA Rule: There is only a 15-yard facemask penalty under NCAA rules. What would be a five-yard penalty under the NFHS rules is no longer a foul.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL enforcement carries an automatic first down.

Holding: Using the hands, arms or legs to hook, grasp, restrain or otherwise impede an opponent. Grabbing an opponent is not enough. There must also be an element of control.

Enforcement: Live ball foul. 10 yards.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL marks most offensive holding penalties from the line of scrimmage. By NFHS rules, the 10 yards are marked from the spot of the foul. For defensive holding, the NFL awards an automatic first down. The NFHS does not.

 

Pass Interference: Any player interfering with an opponent to move forward, catch or bat a legal forward pass beyond the neutral zone.

Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

  • NCAA Rule: Spot foul if less than 15 yards downfield. Automatic first down.

Different on Sundays:

The NFHS rule for defensive pass interference is not a spot foul and does not carry an automatic first down. Also, under NFHS rules, “catchability” is not a factor in this foul.

A pass can be considered completely uncatchable, and a foul may still be called.

• NOTE: Face guarding – the act of obstructing a receiver’s view while not turning to look for the ball – is no longer illegal on any level.

Targeting: No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.
  • NFHS Rule: There is no automatic ejection within the NFHS rule book for this foul, though officials can remove a player from the game if the foul is considered egregious.
  • NCAA Rule: The NCAA rule expands the rule to include contact with the crown of the helmet to any part of a defenseless player’s body. Ejection is automatic if targeting is upheld on replay.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL rule expands this penalty to all areas on the field, not simply a defenseless player – i.e., quarterback in throwing motion, receiver in the act of making a catch.

Unnecessary Roughness: Any contact by a player or coach that is deemed excessive or unnecessary.

  • Enforcement: Live ball or dead ball foul. 15 yards.
  • NCAA Rule: This foul carries an automatic first down under NFHS rules.

Different on Sundays:

This penalty does not include an automatic first down under NFHS rules.

Also, there is no automatic ejection for a second offense.

 

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Any non-contact action by a player or coach that is intentionally harmful or especially objectionable.

  • Enforcement: Live ball or dead ball foul. 15 yards.

Different on Sundays:

This penalty does not include an automatic first down under NFHS rules.

Illegal Contact: Within the area five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, a defensive player may chuck an eligible receiver in front of him. The defender is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken contact within the five-yard zone, so long as the receiver has not moved beyond a point that is even with the defender.

  • Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards. Automatic first down.
  • NFHS Rule: This rule does not exist within the NFHS rule book. A misconception, though, is that defenders can make contact with receivers all the way down the field until the ball is thrown. A defender can still be called for holding or illegal contact to the head or neck area, but a receiver is considered a potential blocker until the ball is thrown.
  • NCAA Rule: This rule does not exist within the NCAA rule book, and the same caveat applies as within the NFHS rule book.

 

PAL uses the National Federation od State High School rules when a PAL rule is not stated.

 

 

Divisions

·       Jr. Flyweight (5, 6, & 7 yr. old)

·       Flyweight (8 & 9 yr. old)

·       Mighty Mites (10 & 11 yr. old)

·       Jr. Varsity (12 & 13 yr. old)

Age Limits

The birthdate cutoff for the oldest age of each division is the 31st of August of the current year except for the Jr. Varsity; its cutoff date is the 1st of January of the current year.

Weight Limits

There are no weight limits for any division.

Academic Requirement

Players in the Flyweight through Jr. Varsity divisions must be enrolled in a school program.

Roster Deadline

Players may be added to team rosters until 11:59 p.m. on the 31st of August. 

Conditioning Requirements

Each player will receive a minimum of 10 hours of conditioning before conducting any player-to-player contact or contact drills with dummies.  The head coach may waive this requirement if the player has received the required amount of conditioning as part of a Pasco County middle school football program.

Conditioning Camps

Camps may be conducted in the off season for participants registered in the PAL system. No contact, player on player, is allowed, and this does not count toward required conditioning once the regular season starts.


 

Lightening

All Organizations are required to always have a lightening detector onsite.

All activities are suspended when lightening is within 10 miles. There is a mandatory wait time of 30 minutes after the 1st lightening strike within 10 miles. If during those 30 minutes there is another lightening strike within the 10 miles, the clock re-starts from that point.

Practice hours

The PAL executive board will set the date for first day of practice. 

Practice hours before the first day of school in Pasco County are from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a limit of 10 hours per week. 

Practice hours on the first day of school are from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a limit of 6 hours per week. 

Practices hours during the playoffs are from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a maximum of 10 hours per week. 

Directors desiring to temporarily modify the practices times must submit their request in writing to the PAL executive director. Head coaches desiring to temporarily modify their practice times must submit their request via their director to the PAL executive director.  The request must state the reason and duration for the modification.  The PAL executive director will reply to the request, in writing, within a reasonable amount of time.  If a director and/or head coach modifies the practice time without written consent from the PAL executive director, the organization will receive a $250.00 fine and the head coach will receive a suspension of one week of practice and one game for each day of violation of the practice hours.

Practice Participation Requirements

Players must physically participate in practices, 4 hours minimum, during the week to be eligible to play on Saturdays.  A player may miss one practice during the week and remain eligible.  

Coming to practice and watching does not constitute attendance of practice unless permission is granted by either the director and/or athletic director.

Head coaches will keep written attendance reports for practice and turn them in to the organization’s athletic director on a weekly basis and they will be retained for the remainder of the season.  These reports will be made available upon request to the opposing team’s director or any PAL executive board member.

Scrimmage Games

Scrimmage games may only take place between teams of the same division. 

Non-PAL scrimmage games must receive the approval of the PAL executive board before being conducted. 

Failure to comply will result in a $250.00 organization fine.

Rules of Play

The National Federation of State High School Associations’ (NFHS) rules book governs the field of play with the following exceptions:

#1 Game ball specifications: The Jr. Flyweights and Flyweights will use a Wilson K-2 or its equivalent.  The Mighty Mites and Jr. Varsity will use a Wilson TDJ or its equivalent. Game ball must be leather.

#2 Period of timing: Each quarter is 10 minutes; halftime is 10 minutes; and the mandatory warm-up after halftime is 3 minutes.

#3 Resolving tied games: Regular season games will be limited to two overtimes and conducted per the format in the NFHS rules book.

#4 Mercy Rule: Once a 35 point or 5 Touchdown differentials is reached after halftime, the game will automatically move to a running clock without the approval of either head coach and will only stop for timeouts or injuries. The clock will not go back to a regular regardless of point differential.

As part of the mercy rule. the team leading by 35 points can no longer pass the ball. 

#5 Video Taping: If a team decides to video tape its game, it may only do so on its side of the field outside of the coach's box between the goal line and 25-yard line. Any person wanting to video tape a game must clear it with the hosting team's director.

#6 Coaches on the Field: The Jr. Flyweight division can have an offensive coach and a defensive coach on the field of play for all games. The coach for the offense and the coach for the defense may communicate with their team until the line is set. 

Once the line is set, all communications with their team stops and the offensive coach must move behind the referee and the defensive coach must move behind the back judge; failure to obey this rule will result in a penalty of unsportsmanlike conduct.


 

#7 Jr Fly Center: No Player in the Jr. Flyweight division may line up over the center unless a minimum of 2-yards behind the defensive line. Otherwise, inside shoulder of defense line must be in line with the outside shoulder of the center.

#8 Jr Fly Field:  All Jr. Flyweight games shall be played on an 80-yard field, no kick-offs will be allowed in the Jr. Flyweight program. The starting line will be the 35-yard line.

#9 Jr Fly and Fly Punt: Both Jr Fly and Flyweight will be both have the option to walk off a punt of 20 yards or kick. 

#10 Visors: Visors are permitted at league discretion.

9-Man Football

A team that has 13 players or less may elect to play 9-man football.  If so, the organization’s director must notify the opposing team’s director and the PAL executive director via phone/email/ or text message no later than 7 p.m. on Tuesday before that week’s game. 

Failure to do so will result in a forfeit.  The head coaches have the option to mutually agree to play 11-man football on game day. All 9-man games will be played on a 80 yard field. A team can fall below 9 men to 8 men without forfeiting. Both teams will drop to 8 man. A team cannot fall below 8 men, if so that game will be a forfeit.

Game Sequence and Times

Changes to game times must be approved by the PAL executive board.

Jr. Flyweights: 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

Flyweights: 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Mighty Mites: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

Jr. Varsity: 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

Coach’s Game Attendance

A coach from the team must be present for the team to take the field.

Sideline limits

1 head coach, 4 assistant coaches (includes play counter)

2 white hats, 2 team parents (must be behind coaches' box)

1 PSC, 1 safety officer. Up to 11 (cannot exceed) total adults can be on the sideline.

Failure to Field a Team

Any organization that cannot field a team will forfeit the game and pay a $200.00 fine or cover the cost of the referees for the opposing team for the forfeited game (Maximum $200.00 fine per division per game day). Within a minimum of forty-eight (48) hours advance notice then no penalty. These fines may be waived by the PAL executive director by showing of just cause.

Make-Up Games / Lighting

It is PAL policy that all leagues must have a lighting meter or weather bug app. Once lighting registers between 6-8 miles on either device practice and or game play must stop for 30 minutes. At this point we will follow NFHS rules.

Games that are cancelled or discontinued will be rescheduled to be played on the immediately following the regularly scheduled game.  Failure to participate in a continued or rescheduled game will result in a forfeit.

Should officials be scheduled and the opposing team forfeits, then the forfeit fee will apply.

Mandatory Play Rule

Mandatory play count for all rostered players is 8 plays, with the exception of 9-man which will be a minimum of 4 plays. Replaying of a down due to a penalty does not count toward the required minimum number of plays.  Failure to comply with the mandatory play rule will result in a forfeit and suspension of the head coach for one week of practice and one game.

Play Counting

Plays are counted during the game by both teams and will be turned in to their directors upon completion of the game who will in turn place them in the PAL Drop Box folder by 6 p.m. on the Sunday following the game.  

If a team wants to play count the opposing team, it must be requested at the time of check-in to the opposing team’s director or designee.  If a team is being play counted by the opposing team, the play counter must be on the sidelines of the team being play counted and advise the head coach as to their presence.  They will stand next to the team play counter.  Play counters will compare each count at the end of each quarter and any discrepancies brought to the attention of each director.  Play counters will remain with the team during the entire game to include halftime and must not use any communication device. 

If a play count sheet cannot be produced at the request of the PAL executive director, the head coach is subject to suspension.

Post-Game Handshake

Players will conduct a post-game handshake while wearing helmets.  The coaches and at least one white hat from each organization will be on the field and shake hands as well.  Coaches that fail to comply could face a one game suspension.  Teams will leave the field immediately following the post-game handshake, i.e., no team meeting on the field.

Turning in Scores

The home team must turn in scores by 6 p.m. on the Sunday following the game to the PAL executive director.  The PAL executive director may request that scores be phoned in instead of emailed, but in either case, they must be received by 6 p.m. on Sunday or the violating organization will be fined $50.00.

Post-Season

The playoff schedule will be produced by the PAL executive director.  Seeding for teams that share the same record will be determined by the following: #1 Head-to-head record; #2 points scored against, and #3 a coin toss.

Post-Season Play Participation Requirement

Players must participate in at least 6 of the 10 regular season games to be eligible to participate in post-season play.  If a player misses more than four games due to legitimate medical conditions and a detailed doctor’s note is provided, the PAL executive director may elect to deem that player eligible for post-season.

Organization directors wishing to have post-season eligibility granted to any player missing more than four games, due to a legitimate medical condition must request in writing, along with the supporting documents provided by a physician, to the PAL executive director 4 days prior to the scheduled event.  The PAL executive director will determine player eligibility on a case-by-case basis.


 

Check-In Procedures

The home team will designate check-in area.  Rosters will be in numerical order for each division.  Each player’s official file must be available at the check-in and for the entire game day for the opposing director or a PAL executive board member.  Directors or a designee are responsible for the official records.  Each team will give a roster to opposing team’s director and to the announcer. Late check-ins are at the discretion of the opposing team's Director.

Players are required to be present for check-in 1 hour before the start of their game or during the halftime of the preceding game, whichever is sooner.  Each player will be lined up in numerical order as listed on the roster and must be in possession of their official game jersey at the time of check-in.  

Each director or designee will initial in each assigned block as follows:

if the player is available for play – director or designee’s Initials;

Injured – I; Absent – A; Sick – S; Disciplinary – D; Quit – Q; Vacation – V, Present but Injured – PI.  Players must be at roster check-in to play. 

Hosting Organization Field Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of the home team to ensure all equipment for play is available and the field is marked according to NFHS rules. 

 Additionally, each organization shall create an 18 ft. buffer zone between the sidelines and the spectators.  The buffer zone shall be the entire length of the field, be on the home and visiting team’s sidelines, and be identified as being roped off. 

The following individuals are allowed in the buffer zone: PAL executive board members; white hats of the team’s organization; coaches, team parents, and play counter of the team that is playing; reporters, videographers, and photographers are at the discretion of the head coach.

Line-to-gain crews are the responsibility of the Away team and will be established per NFHS rules.  The NFHS rules cover general instructions, pregame duties, and game procedures. 

It is the responsibility of the home team to ensure payment of the officiating crew to the PAL Executive Board either day of or submit a check no later than Monday following the game day.

Timing and Quarter Length

Each age Division will have a 10-minute clock per quarter

Play Clocks

40-second play clock

Clock Stoppages

        Timeouts

        At the end of each quarter

        On an incomplete pass

        When a ball-carrier runs out of bounds

        On a penalty

        When a player is injured

        When a team scores

        When the ball changes possession

        When officials measure for a first down

For youth, high school and college football, the clock will restart on an official’s ready-to-play whistle after:

        The chains are reset following a first down.

        An injured player is removed from the field.

        The ball is set after a change of possession

Different on Sundays

The NFL:

        does not stop the clock for a first down unless the runner or ball goes out of bounds.

        stops the clock for a 2-minute warning at the end of each half. This does not exist on the high school or college levels.

        will not restart the clock for some penalties until the next snap

Different Rules, Different Levels

Touchbacks on Kicks

·       NFHS: Once the ball breaks the plane of the goal line, the play is blown dead and a touchback is called. Defensive players can stand in the end zone and bat a ball back as long as the ball does not cross that plane.

·       NCAA and NFL: The play is blown dead once a ball lands in the end zone or a defensive player who has stepped into the end zone touches the ball.

Neutral Zone Infractions

·       NFHS: The play is dead, and a foul is called as soon as a player enters the neutral zone. There is no “getting back” before the snap.

·       NCAA and NFL: Players have the opportunity to return to their side of the neutral zone unless contact is made with an opponent, or a game official deems the player’s penetration into the other side too deep and stops play for safety reasons.

Missed Field Goals

·       NFHS: Think of field goal attempts under NFHS rules the same way you do a punt. The ball remains live for the return team until it reaches the end zone, rolls out of bounds or is downed by the kicking team. A touchback returns the ball to the 20-yard line. A kick that stops short of the end zone and is downed is spotted there.

·       NCAA and NFL: Missed field goals can be returned by the defense as long as they stay in bounds. Missed kicks that go out of bounds or roll dead come back to the point of the kick and possession changes.

Extra Points

·       NFHS: The defense can never score on an extra-point try. Once the kick is away or the 7 defense gains possession of the ball, the play is over.

·       NCAA: At the college level, if the point-after try is blocked on or behind the line of scrimmage and continues into the end zone, where it touches the ground before being touched by another player, the ball becomes dead and the try down is over. If the kick is blocked and recovered before reaching the end zone, then the defense can pick it up and return it for a possible two points.

·       NFL: Since 2015, the defense can score two points on an extra-point try by blocking a kick or causing a turnover and returning it to the opposite end zone.

Automatic First Down

·       NFHS: The only fouls in the NFHS rule book that result in an automatic first down are:

o   Roughing the passer

o   Roughing the kicker, holder or snapper (and only if a team is in a scrimmage-kick formation at the snap)

Loss of Down

·       NFHS: The only fouls in the NFHS rule book that result in in a loss of down are:

o   Illegal forward pass (grounding)

o   Illegal forward handoff

o   Illegal touching of a forward pass

Legal Catch

        NFHS and NCAA: One foot must be established inbounds for legal possession of the ball.

        NFL: Two feet established inbounds are required.

Penalties

Offensive Penalties

Delay of Game: Upon the ready for play whistle, the offense has 25 seconds to snap the ball and begin the next play. Also, any deliberate action by a player to delay the spotting of the ball to begin the next play.

        Enforcement: Dead ball penalty. Five yards.

        NCAA and NFL Rule: A play that ends naturally without a penalty, change of possession, injury or other stoppage of play initiates a 40-second play clock immediately upon the dead ball whistle.

 

Illegal Substitution: During the same dead ball interval, no player can withdraw and re-enter as a substitute unless a penalty is accepted, a dead-ball foul occurs, there is a charged time out or the period ends. Also, if the offense breaks the huddle with more than 11 players.

        Enforcement: Dead ball penalty. Five yards.

Blocking Below the Waist: Any block below the waist outside of the free blocking zone exception, which allows players positioned within the tackle-to-tackle box at the snap to block an opponent below the waist. This rule applies to both offensive players and defensive players, who cannot engage a non-ballcarrying offensive player below the waist (exception for an offensive player carrying out a fake).

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

        NCAA Rule: Offensive players can cut defenders only if the blocker approaches from the front.

The general rule of “10 o’clock to 2 o’clock” is legal for non-linemen who are outside the tackle to-tackle box at the snap.

Different on Sundays:

NFL players have a much freer range to block below the waist both downfield and by non-linemen. Cut blocks are only illegal on kicking plays.

Chop Block: A block below the waist on an opponent who is already engaged with another blocker.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

Clipping: Blocking or falling into the back of an opponent from the waist down.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

Equipment Violation: Failure to wear required equipment or wearing non-approved equipment during a down.

        Enforcement: Five yards if dead ball foul at the snap.

        Enforcement: 15 yards if live ball foul during the play.

        NCAA Rule: This is a 15-yard penalty if flagged during a play under NCAA rules. If caught before the snap, there is no foul, but the player must be removed from the game.

 

Illegal Formation: Failure to have at least seven players on the line of scrimmage at the time of the snap.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards.

        NCAA Rule: The NCAA rulebook does not require seven on the line of scrimmage. The requirement is no more than four players in the backfield.

Illegal Shift: Failure of all 11 offensive players to be stationary simultaneously for at least one second prior to the snap, a player going in motion or a legal shift. Also, two players in motion at the same time during the snap.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards.

Illegal Helmet Contact: Any butt block, face tackle, spear or other intentional use of the helmet to butt or ram an opponent. Any contact by the crown of the helmet to a defenseless player. Any contact to a defenseless player’s head or neck area.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

        NCAA Rule: The NCAA also carries potential “targeting” for illegal helmet contact on a defenseless player that can lead to an ejection. No such automatic rule is in place within NFHS guidelines.

Illegal Forward Pass: Any forward pass with either foot beyond the neutral zone or a second forward pass within a down.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards. Loss of down.

        NCAA Rule: At the NCAA level, both feet and the ball must be beyond the neutral zone to incur this foul.11

Ineligible Receiver Downfield: Any ineligible receiver beyond the expanded neutral zone – typically three yards beyond the line – before the last legal pass is thrown from behind the line of scrimmage to beyond the line of scrimmage.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards.

Intentional Grounding: Any forward pass thrown into an area where there are no eligible receivers – except for a legal spike following a snap under center.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards from spot of foul. Loss of down. There is no “outside the pocket” exception for leagues using NFHS rules.

        NCAA Rule: This is a spot foul and loss of down under NCAA rules. No additional yardage.

Different on Sundays:

Like the NCAA, a passer outside the pocket can throw the ball out of bounds anywhere past the line of scrimmage and not be penalized.

False Start: Any shift, motion or movement that simulates action at a snap.

        Enforcement: Dead ball foul. Five yards.

Defensive Penalties

Horse Collar Tackle: Grasping a ball-carrier by the back collar or inside the shoulder pads, then pulling the ball-carrier back and toward the ground.

Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

Illegal Kick: Popup kicks in which a kicker drives the ball into the ground in an attempt to make it go up in the air and not come down until the coverage team can converge on the landing spot.

        Enforcement: Dead ball foul. 15 yards.12

        NCAA Rule: This is a legal kickoff within the NCAA rulebook with some limitations

        Same on Sundays: The NFHS and NFL both outlaw these types of onside kicks.

Offside: Any player entering the neutral zone once the ball is ready for play and before the snap.

        Enforcement: Dead ball foul. Five yards.

Different than Sundays:

There is no “getting back” before the snap. Once a defensive player enters the neutral zone, the play is blown dead.

Roughing the Passer: A continued effort to knock or tackle a passer after the ball has been thrown.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards. Automatic first down.

Roughing the Kicker/Holder: Any contact with potential harm on the kicker or holder after a placed kick is away. Nullified by a defender making contact with a kicked ball behind the line of scrimmage or being blocked into a player.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards. Automatic first down.

.

Roughing the Snapper: Any contact on the snapper during the execution of a PAT, field goal or punt before the player is allowed the opportunity to regain his or her balance.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards. Automatic first down.

All-Player Fouls

Blindside Block: Any block against an opponent other than the runner, who does not see the blocker approaching unless it is initiated with open hands.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

        NCAA Rule: A blindside block in the NCAA is legal unless it is targeting.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL enforcement is narrower in that a player must deliver the block with the helmet, forearm or shoulder to the head or neck area of a defender. This rule also encompasses hits on defenseless receivers.

Facemask: Grasping an opponent’s face mask or any edge of a helmet’s opening.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Either five yards (incidental) or 15 yards (excessive).

        NCAA Rule: There is only a 15-yard facemask penalty under NCAA rules. What would be a five-yard penalty under the NFHS rules is no longer a foul.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL enforcement carries an automatic first down.

Holding: Using the hands, arms or legs to hook, grasp, restrain or otherwise impede an opponent. Grabbing an opponent is not enough. There must also be an element of control.

Enforcement: Live ball foul. 10 yards.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL marks most offensive holding penalties from the line of scrimmage. By NFHS rules, the 10 yards are marked from the spot of the foul. For defensive holding, the NFL awards an automatic first down. The NFHS does not.

 

Pass Interference: Any player interfering with an opponent to move forward, catch or bat a legal forward pass beyond the neutral zone.

Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

        NCAA Rule: Spot foul if less than 15 yards downfield. Automatic first down.

Different on Sundays:

The NFHS rule for defensive pass interference is not a spot foul and does not carry an automatic first down. Also, under NFHS rules, “catchability” is not a factor in this foul.

A pass can be considered completely uncatchable, and a foul may still be called.

• NOTE: Face guarding – the act of obstructing a receiver’s view while not turning to look for the ball – is no longer illegal on any level.

Targeting: No player shall target and make forcible contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, hand, fist, elbow or shoulder.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. 15 yards.

        NFHS Rule: There is no automatic ejection within the NFHS rule book for this foul, though officials can remove a player from the game if the foul is considered egregious.

        NCAA Rule: The NCAA rule expands the rule to include contact with the crown of the helmet to any part of a defenseless player’s body. Ejection is automatic if targeting is upheld on replay.

Different on Sundays:

The NFL rule expands this penalty to all areas on the field, not simply a defenseless player – i.e., quarterback in throwing motion, receiver in the act of making a catch.

Unnecessary Roughness: Any contact by a player or coach that is deemed excessive or unnecessary.

        Enforcement: Live ball or dead ball foul. 15 yards.

        NCAA Rule: This foul carries an automatic first down under NFHS rules.

Different on Sundays:

This penalty does not include an automatic first down under NFHS rules.

Also, there is no automatic ejection for a second offense.

 

Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Any non-contact action by a player or coach that is intentionally harmful or especially objectionable.

        Enforcement: Live ball or dead ball foul. 15 yards.

Different on Sundays:

This penalty does not include an automatic first down under NFHS rules.

Illegal Contact: Within the area five yards beyond the line of scrimmage, a defensive player may chuck an eligible receiver in front of him. The defender is allowed to maintain continuous and unbroken contact within the five-yard zone, so long as the receiver has not moved beyond a point that is even with the defender.

        Enforcement: Live ball foul. Five yards. Automatic first down.

        NFHS Rule: This rule does not exist within the NFHS rule book. A misconception, though, is that defenders can make contact with receivers all the way down the field until the ball is thrown. A defender can still be called for holding or illegal contact to the head or neck area, but a receiver is considered a potential blocker until the ball is thrown.

        NCAA Rule: This rule does not exist within the NCAA rule book, and the same caveat applies as within the NFHS rule book.

 

PAL uses the National Federation od State High School rules when a PAL rule is not stated.