FRANKLIN COUNTY— High school football fans will watch a different game this fall as Vermont teams play 7v7 to limit physical contact during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s a look at what to expect.
Each team can have no more than seven players on the field at a time. The game will be divided into 15 minute quarters with a continuous running clock for each quarter.
Time will start after the opening kickoff of each half, or when the ball is first snapped from the 30-yard line. There will be three time outs per half and normal halftime.
Helmets will be the only protective equipment issued for practice and playing in games.
Lineman will play quarters 1 and 3, and Backs and Receivers play Quarters 2 and 4. Defensive players in quarters 2 and 4 who also are offensive lineman can play offense during quarters 1 and 3.
Quarterbacks during quarters 1 and 3 can be traditional quarterbacks, but teams are not limited to that; if a team has a lineman they want to play as QB that is allowed.
Moving the ball
Offensive Plays must all be passes. Teams may choose to kick the ball off each half and after a score; this is for the development of the kicker’s skills, regardless of where the ball lands, the offense will start their drive on their 30-yard line.
The kicking team’s defense can be on the field with the kicker, but there is no return or need for the receiving team to be tagged since the ball will be spotted on the 30-yard line.
The offense needs to declare that they will be punting and can have a long snapper and kicker on the field; the defense will have two players to receive the punt.
If the punt is caught, that will be the point of possession for the offense. If the punt isn’t touched by the receiving team, the point in which the ball comes to rest is the point of possession.
If the defense muffs the ball forward, the ball will next be put into play where it was first touched.
If the ball is muffed backward by the defense, the point in which the ball comes to rest is the point of possession. There are no fake punts.
The offense can have a long snapper, holder, and kicker for a field goal & PAT attempt; the defense will remain on the field during the FG/PAT but may not rush or return the ball.
An unsuccessful field goal is a dead ball, and the opposing team takes possession of the ball at the point of the kick.
The QB is allowed four seconds to throw the ball, and the defense is not allowed to rush the quarterback. The official timekeeper starts a stopwatch on the ball’s snap from center and stops the watch as soon as the QB releases the ball.
If release is under four seconds, the play goes on. If the timekeeper sees the clock has exceeded four seconds, he waits until the play is over (the play is not blown dead), then brings the ball back to the original line of scrimmage with loss of down.
All passes must be forward. A pass caught behind the line of scrimmage must be a forward pass. Backward pass infraction would be a loss of a down.
Once a forward pass has been thrown, a backward pass (lateral) is allowed.
No blocking or tackling.
Receiver/Ball carrier is legally down when touched with one or both hands. Incidental contact by the defender doesn’t constitute a touch; the defender must actively touch the receiver. Excessive force by shoving, pushing, or striking a blow will be penalized by automatic first down and 15 yards. Expulsion of a player(s) if ruled unsportsmanlike & flagrant.
Fumbles are dead balls at the spot with the last team retaining possession. A muffed snap is not a fumble/dead ball. The four-second count remains in effect on snaps.
Each team will have 40 seconds to snap the ball once the previous play ends (a whistle will sound ending the play). After any administration stoppage, the offense will have 25 seconds to snap the ball once it has been marked ready for play. Two delay-of-game penalties in the same possession results in a turnover. A delay-of-game penalty on the extra point try results in a turnover.
Responsibility to avoid contact is with the defense. There will be no chucking, deliberate bumping, or grabbing. These actions will result in a defensive holding penalty.
If a defender crosses the line of scrimmage before the pass is thrown it is defensive offsides (5-yard penalty)
Interceptions/Fumble: Interceptions are a live ball and may be returned; teams take possession where downed. Any fumble on a return will be considered a dead ball.
The offensive center is not an eligible receiver (teams must have a center as one of their seven players). The ball must be snapped from the ground between the snapper’s legs. The center becomes an eligible defender when there is an interception by the defense.
There will be an area referred to as the tackle box that extends 3 yards on both sides of the center and 3 yards deep into the backfield. No eligible receiver may align within the tackle box.
Touchdowns – 6 points
PAT – 1 point kicking from the 3-yard line, 2 points passing from the 10-yard line
Safety – 2 points and possession of the ball 1st and 10 at the 30.
Secondary Coverages: Coverage will be the choice of each participating team.