Third through Eighth Grade Divisions Rules/Guidelines

Updated Friday September 6, 2019 by JFL Commissioner.

Third through Eighth Grade Divisions Rules/Guidelines

(Items in bold updated on 9/6/19)

OFFICIAL JFL RULE BOOK 2019 FOR THIRD THROUGH EIGHTH GRADES

 
INTRODUCTION AND DEFINITIONS
i. All rules are for all divisions, unless otherwise noted.
ii. All judgments are subject to the discretion of the referee, whether or not the judgment is regarding a rule explicitly listed in this rule book or not.
iii. “Set” means the time from when offense gains possession until possession returns to the other team.
iv. “Rush” or “Rushes” in the following rules means crossing the line of scrimmage (either offense or defense).
 
I           No punts or kickoffs. Offense always starts at the 20 yard line. 
 
II         To get a first down, the offense needs to pass the 50 yard line marker, meaning only 1 first down possibility per Set.   
 
III        Defense can choose whether to have a defensive lineman or not.

A – If there is a defensive lineman, the defensive lineman starts by holding the ball.  
B - If there is no defensive lineman, the referee starts by holding the ball.

 Defensive lineman/referee flips the ball to the quarterback when defense is ready but the play does not start until the Quarterback calls “Hike” when the offense is ready.

When BOTH QB has the ball and has called ‘Hike’, the referee (not a lineman or defensive player) starts counting to 5 (“1 rush, 2 rush etc.”) and receivers may go out.  At “5 rush”, defense may choose to rush, but does not have to rush.

In both A and B above, the requirement for the defense to be ready is only so that each member of the defense can ‘take a man’, but not to unreasonably procrastinate and take time off the clock.  If a referee observes that the defense is just trying to ‘run the clock down’ and should otherwise reasonably be ready, he may blow the whistle and stop time.  Offense, on the other hand, may ‘run the clock down’ until the in-between play clock (section XIX below) is expired.

 
IV        If defense rushes when the count reaches “5 rush”
A - In Seventh/Eighth Division, QB can rush with the ball only 1 time per set.  If QB has already rushed 1 time in the set, he can not rush again and can only throw the ball to a receiver. (This does not apply to when Defense utilizes a Blitz as per Rule VI below, at which point QB may rush even if he has rushed once in the set)
B – In Third/Fourth and Fifth/Sixth Division, QB can rush with the ball at any point when he is rushed by the defense.
 
V         If defense does not rush when the count reaches “5 rush”, the referee will continue to count out loud until he reaches
                        A.Seventh/Eighth Division: 10 (i.e. “…8 rush, 9 rush, 10 or whistle), at which point the play is dead
                        B.Third/Fourth and Fifth/Sixth Divisions: 12 (i.e. “…10 rush, 11 rush, 12 or whistle), at which point the play is dead 
 
VI        Defense is able to Blitz once per set.  To Blitz, the QB must already have the ball and the defense must call “Blitz” loudly enough for the line referee to hear, and then is allowed to rush. When defense utilizes a Blitz, QB is always allowed to rush.
 
VII      Offense does not need to have an offensive lineman.  If Offense does have an offensive lineman, he is an eligible receiver for the play. 
 
VIII          

If the teams have different amounts of players present, the team with more players present rotates ONE player (regardless of the amount of players missing from the other team).  This means that not more than 1 person ever rotates from the bigger team. 

If a player removes himself from the game due to injury or related, this does affect the amount of players regarding substitutions if the resulting number of players on each team would require someone to rotate as per above.  For example, in an 8 vs. 7 game where all players are playing before the time of the injury,  if someone gets injured from the 7 team and sits out which results in his team having 6 players, the opposing team needs to sit someone until he returns.  However if a player is removed from a game due to a penalty for behavior or related, this does not affect the amount of players regarding substitutions. For example, in an 8 vs. 7 game if someone gets removed from the game due to a penalty or related from the team with 7 players, the opposing team does not need to sit someone until he returns.  
           
IX        If someone needs to rotate sitting as per rule VIII above, one player sits out one offensive set and the following defensive set, and then re-enters the game and another player sits out one offensive set and the following defensive set, and so on until all players have sat out.  However, if the team which needs to sit a player has played only one QB the whole game, that QB does not need to sit as part of the rotation.  This exception does not apply if the team has used another QB for even one play for reasons other than injury/unavailability of the starting QB.  When all players have sat out once, the next rotation continues in the same order as the first rotation.  If a set ends with a turnover and these were less than 4 downs in the set, still the set is counted for the purposes of this rotation.
 
 
X         No handoffs. No backwards, forwards, or sideways underhand laterals.  No backwards, sideways (“screens”), or underhand passes.  The only type of pass allowed is a forward pass or a forward shuffle/push pass (when the QB pushes the ball from the chest). 
 
XI        Immediately after each game, all players will line up and congratulate/shake hands with each player on the opposing team.
 
XII      When defense gets a ‘Safety’ (sacks the other QB in the offense’s end zone), no points are awarded, but the defensive team which safetied the QB gets the ball at the opponent’s 20 yard line, meaning 20 yards from a touchdown. After a play during which time for the half runs out and during which there is a safety, offense gets one additional final play at the opponent’s 20 yard line.
 
XIII     After a defensive pass interference call, offense will start the next down at the spot of the penalty and receive a first down.  If there is a defensive pass interference in the end zone, the ball will be placed at the 1-yard line for a “first and goal”.
 
XIV     After a play during which time for the half runs out and during which there is a defensive penalty, offense gets one additional final play which starts from the spot of the penalty (or from the 1-yard line if the penalty occurred in the end zone)
 
XV      Each half of the game will be 25 minutes, the first 23 minutes of which will be running time. The clock will stop with 2 minutes left and every time after that when there is a dead ball (ie incomplete pass, out of bounds, change of possession) but will continue after a complete pass.  There will be a 5 minute half time between the two halves.
 
XVI     If regulation time ends with the teams tied, there will be a sudden death overtime for which there will be a new coin toss.  First team that scores wins.
 
XVII   Each team gets three time-outs per game. Each time out is two minutes.
 
XVIII No players on offense or defense shall attempt to bowl over or run down another player, use their elbows in a violent way to ward off other players, or lowering one’s shoulder into another player.
 
No player with the ball can take any action to prevent themselves from being ‘tackled’ other than running away from a defender.   There is to be no attempt to ‘stiff arm’ a defender anywhere on the head or body, or make any other similar effort.  If the referee determines that the runner moves his arm(s), with intention, in any fashion to push away a defender and/or prevent a defender from grabbing a flag, the referee will stop the play as if the defender had pulled the flag.
 
Tackling is never permitted.
 
XIX    Play Clock:   At the beginning of a set, the teams have  50 seconds (3/4 and 5/6 grade division) or 40 seconds (7/8 grade division) to begin the first play.    After a play ends mid-set, the teams have 25 seconds (3/4 and 5/6 grade division) 20 seconds (7/8 grade division)  If the defense is not ready by these times, the offense may still start the play.  If the offensive team delays beyond these times, this will result in a delay-of-game penalty against the offense.  
 
XX     All offensive players are prohibited from intentionally blocking/picking defensive players past the line of scrimmage until a pass is caught.   In order for this to be called, the offensive player must be “hunting” for the defender for the purpose of knocking him off his defensive coverage.

XXI     Football Size: ‘Pee-Wee’ size footballs are used for Fifth/Sixth grade division and below, and ‘Junior’ size footballs are used for Seventh/Eighth Grade Division.

XXII   Field Size:

The fields of play shall be of the following measurements, or as close to these measurements are practicable:

Width:  48 feet for all divisions

Length: 

Third/Fourth and Fifth/Sixth Grade Divisions:  140 feet  (two 15-foot end zones and 110 feet of playing field)

Seventh/Eighth Grade Division:  180 feet (two 15-foot end zones and 150 feet of playing field)
 
XXIII   No Fumbles:  If a player drops the ball after making a catch, the ball is dead. 

XXIV                   Play is ruled “dead” when:
a. The ball carrier’s flag is pulled.
b. The ball carrier steps out of bounds.
c. The ball carrier’s knee or arm hits the ground and he is touched by defensive player with at least one hand. (even if the flag is not pulled)
d. The ball carrier’s flag falls out 
e. The receiver catches the ball while in possession of one flag if the flag fell out on its own.  In this case it is considered a complete pass but the play is rule dead immediately and the ball is placed at the spot of the catch.  However if the defender pulled the flag before the catch is made, then the play is live and defense must pull the other flag in order to stop the receiver.

XV         To make a reception, a player must control the ball with two feet in bounds.

XVI       The ball is spotted where the ball carrier's feet are when the flag is pulled, not where the ball is and not where the pulled flag is laying.

XVII      Shirts do not need to be tucked in, but flag belts must be worn above the highest level of clothing.  It is up to the referee's subjective discretion whether any clothing item, or anything else unacceptable, is impeding a defender’s ability to reach the flag, and whether to call a play dead accordingly. 

XVIII    Penalties

Offensive Delay of Game:  5 yard penalty, redo down
Offensive Off Sides: 5 yard penalty, redo down
Offensive Pass Interference/Contact (illegal pick play, pushing off defender/running through defender etc): 5 yard penalty, redo down 
Defensive Off-Sides:  5 yard penalty, redo down
Defensive Pass Interference:   First down, ball placed at spot of interference
Defensive Illegal Contact (holding, blocking, etc) 5 yard penalty, redo down
Defensive Illegal Intentional Flag Pull before ball gets to the receiver:  The play is live and defense must pull the other flag in order to stop the receiver.
Defensive Blitzing without Calling Blitz Loudly enough for the line referee to hear and/or crossing line of scrimmage before QB has possession of ball:  5 yard penalty, redo down.  

A 5 yard penalty means 5 paces by the referee and not actual yards.

HAVE FUN AND GOOD LUCK!