Welcome back to another great season of FNL youth flag football. This year along with our regular FNL league will be hosting 7 vs 7 HighSchool Flag Football League. Week#1 is just around the corner so if you were unable to make our paid training day please check the website and scroll down for a list of rules and other items to update yourself on the what you need to know. This Blog Post will be used Week in and Week out to update on any rules interpretations, changes or clarifications, so please check back weekly and "Stay In The Know". As always you can contact me about anything and let's get out there and have another awesome season.
Hey everybody we have now put Week #1 in the books and if your new to the league this blog post is where I will share needed information, answer questions and update you on the league. Below I will explain some of the basic rules of the FNL and iCanReferee to clear up any confusion people may have.
First you are all expected to read the rules manual posted on in a link at the bottom of the 2019 Spring Season page. If you have questions about interpretations of a rule or rules please come and see me, email me or text me and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Knowing the rules is one main aspect of what it is to be a referee, so the only way you can referee is if you know what they are and how they are interpreted. Every week I will be posting a blog along with this one titled Know the Rules, in which I will answer a rules question, explain it's interpretation and how we are going to enforce the rule.
Second is you are all expected to be on time to the fields. This means you need to be at the fields 15 mins prior to game time. You are responsible for checking in the players on each team 5 mins prior to the start of the game, so you need to be fully dressed and ready to go at that time. This season with so many people now wanting to referee things will be watched more closer as both the league administrators and both Bill Thomas & myself will be tracking those who show up late, call out last minute or are a complete no show. Remember you are the only ones on the fields that is being paid to perform, so take it seriously as the coaches, players & fans expect you to be professional and be on time and ready to go at the start of their games.
Third as part of this season I have created an Availability form which is accessible from the Home page. You are not required to login to utilize this form. This form will be the only way, barring an emergency, that I will accept for you to block dates that you cannot officiate. An example on how and when to use a form, if you are unavailable to work on Thurday nights, you need to fill out the form and check each and every check box that has a Thurday night date on it. I made it easy for you by listed Thursday or Friday next to the date so that you won't make a mistake or get confused. Please do not email or text me that you are unable to make your assigned games unless it is an emergency situation. I expect each of you to fill them out so that I can start scheduling the for the entire season. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.
Rules Question of the Week?
In this week's rules question I have posted the Timing/OT Rules that come directly from the FNL Rules Manual. Please read them and message me if you have any questions.
Games are played with 10 minute running quarters (40minutes), 1 minute water break between quarters and a 5 minute halftime. If the score is tied at the end of 40 minutes, teams move directly into overtime.
The following tie-breaker system will be used for all overtime games.
• Coin flip determines possession
• Ball is placed at Midfield
• After 3 plays, the referee will mark where the ball ended up (cone, flag, etc)
• Opposing team will now take over at Midfield run their 3 plays going in the same direction.
• Whichever team gains the most yards on 3 plays wins the game
• If both teams are tied after 3 plays, we do it again until there is a winner.
• Negative net yards on offense will count against you. Other team must still run their 3 plays.
• If the ball is intercepted and the runner’s flags are pulled before they reach the end zone. The ball is spotted at mid field and the team only needs to gain one yard. If they gain one yard on the first play, the team can take knee the ball twice and they will win the game.
• If ball is intercepted and returned for a touchdown, game is over.
• Overtime is only for all Premier Games, 5th and 6th, 7th and 8th, and playoff games.
- Each time the ball is spotted, a team has 30 seconds to snap the ball.
- Teams will receive one warning before a delay of game penalty is enforced.
- 2 timeouts per half and they do not carry over to 2nd half if unused.
Guys & Gals it is Playoff's Week and we need to be on our "A game." Please review the "Know The Rules?" blog posts and send me any questions you have. This season has shaped up to be a great one at both Murrieta and Temecula and the teams are vying to win it all, so let's make sure we hustle and are in the right spots to make the correct calls. That said we have a couple of reminders to improve upon before the season is over.
It has been mentioned in past posts, but needs to be brought up again we need to be placing markers on both the rush line and LOS. It is not just you as a ref who needs to be aware of the lines but the players and coaches do too. It is not fair to tell a quarterback that they threw an illegal forward pass when you don't have the marker on the LOS to show them how far they can run before throwing the ball. Also it is very hard to argue that a player committed an illegal rush or illegal forward pass when I see the video and their are no markers signifying the spot on the ground. Please don't make me have to tell you on the field as this is something we all need to be doing no matter how much experience we have refereeing.
This rule is similar to the first one in that as the offensive referee you must signal the Ready-for-Play whistle. Once you have both markers set and the ball placed at the LOS marker hack and blow you whistle. The Ready-for-Play whistle starts the 30 second play clock for each offensive play. It is hard to penalize a team for delay of game when you never whistled to signal the start of the play clock. It is your job to make sure both markers are set and the ball is placed correctly and both officials are ready before blowing the Ready-for-Play whistle. Again if a team violates the delay of game the first time it is a warning, afterward any additional penalties for delay of game will be loss of down + yardage. Remember some teams take advantage of you not blowing the whistle as a tactic to keep the opposing team from having the ball, so let's be fair and make sure we are the one's controlling the start of every play.
Please remember to have thick skin and ignore comments that don't need to be answered. When a coach complains let them, but if those complaints go beyond what is acceptable it is your job to tell the coach that it is enough and warn them they will receive a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct if they continue. However, with that said if a coach blatantly says something that is not tolerated, whether it is a threat, foul language or anything personal in nature, you have every right to flag them on the first occurrence and/or eject them if it is warranted. Please know that any ejection must be followed up in writing to me within 24 hours of the end of the game and you will need to explain the whole situation. Also remember everyone is recording you so no matter what a coach, player or fan does your job is to be professional and respond respectfully. Playoffs is always intense as fans, players and coaches want to win, so have some thick skin, but also take charge and control of your game from the start of your pregame talks with the coaches. If you do these things mentioned above you will set yourself and your game up for success.
Rules Question of the Week?
In this week's rules question we will be explaining the sub rules for teams with 9 players. When a team has 9 players they will sit 3 players each quarter except for 1 quarter. The quarter that no players sit is called the ALL PLAY quarter. At the beginning of the game you need to ask the coach what quarter will be their ALL PLAY, as they are allowed to designate the quarter 1-4. Once they choose the quarter confirm with the opposing coach the quarter that the team selected to have as their ALL PLAY. During the ALL PLAY the coach is only allowed to sub 3 players on offense and 3 players on defense. This means that the other 3 non-sub players on offense or defense must be in for the entire ALL PLAY quarter. Basically they can sub 3 players on offense and 3 players on defense during the ALL PLAY quarter as I understand it so please be aware as I have had complaints that coaches are subbing all players on offense and defense. If you notice this or it is brought to your attention during the game please take an official time out and verify the players that are to remain in the entire quarter so you can make sure the coach is abiding by the rule. Many times the coaches are just new to the rules and don't understand them completely and if you take a moment and explain them they will comply and the game will move along smoothly.
Guys & Gals we are coming down to the last couple weeks. I believe playoffs start week 10, then championships the following week and lastly All Star games. Remember let's not have a let down just because of the season is coming to an end. We have been doing an awesome job this season at both Temecula & Murrieta so let's end it on a positive note. With that said please don't forget to review the rules, especially the OverTIme rules as you will need them for your playoff and championship games.
It is everyone's responsibility to let me know your availability as soon as possible. I put the schedule out early to give everyone time to view it, so please don't call me the day of your games and tell me you can't work them. I have had a few people think that it is acceptable to show up late consistently for games and get paid for them, which is unacceptable. I have also had people miss entire games and collect their check at the end of the night for games they never worked, which is unacceptable. I don't care what your excuse is for consistent offenders, if you do not want to officiate for this league please let me know and I won't assign you games, but to not show up for games without a call, text or to show up late or after your game is over and expect to be paid is unacceptable. For most of you this isn't an issue, but to those of you who have been taking advantage of my and the league kindness, it will stop now. Going forward I will suspending people, what this means is you will not be assigned games the following week and once assigned games again you will be on probation, so any repeat violations will result in being removed for the remainder of the season. If it is a problem for anyone to show up for their assigned games, please feel free to contact me or the league.
We need to be aware that the games are going to become more intense, which means play may become physical. This is not a tackle ball league so players are not allowed to grab, tackle, hold, reroute, push off or in any way contact another player whether they are offense or defense. Also remember that coaches and fans will become more animated as they are supporting their players, so let's be aware of that and not let a sidelines get out of control. If anyone needs assistance with a coach both Bill Thomas and myself are available to help resolve any conflicts that arise, so please use us.
We need to be reviewing the rules before we go out to officiate. Even if you have been doing this for a long time don't take it for granted that you know the rules as each season we have changes that happen, which result in modifying our interpretation of the rules. If you have any questions as to interpreting the rules please read the KNOW THE RULES? blog post as I have written them each week about complaints or questions people have placed about those particular rules. This week's rules question will be about sub rules in regards to teams with 9 players, so please read it to familiarize yourself as it has changed from how it was implemented in seasons past.
Rules Question of the Week?
In this week's rules question we will be explaining Snap Infractions. So at these levels many of the kids struggle with the quarterback center exchange and we need to be aware of that. One of the things I do is when I see a center struggling to snap the ball, before I throw a penalty flag I stop the center and explain that what they are doing is incorrect and what I would like to see him or her doing. I also get the attention of the coach and tell them what I saw and what they need to correct. After I have done that I judge the severity of the snap exchange, which is whether its just a jerky snap or whether the kid double clutches the ball including how it affects the play. What this means is if a kid has a jerky snap I typically ignore it and do not penalize the snap unless it dramatically affects the play. However, if the kid snaps the ball and it leaves the ground and then he places the ball back on the ground I penalize it as a false start/snap infraction because they double clutched the ball. Also remember many kids pick up the ball because they are unaware that they cannot do that prior to the snap, so lets remind them that they must leave the ball on the ground and not flag them, especially if it doesn't affect the rusher or any other players on the team. If I see a kid pick up a ball and rotate it because of the laces I typically ignore it unless it causes the defense/offensive to rush illegally/false start. If the kid rotates the ball end over end or double clutches a snap then I will penalize it, especially at the upper levels as the kids have more skill and ability to control the snap. Keep in mind at the lower levels kids struggle so you do not have to penalize it even if you throw your flag, you can give a warning and pick up your flag, but I leave the determination up to you. Again I will never change your call or tell anyone that you are wrong in your assessment of a penalty/foul. I am here to always support you. If you have any questions please feel free to comment on the post or email me and I will answer you. Thanks
Guys & Gals I want to commend all of you for working so hard last week, even though we had so many call outs, we also had many of you step up and do a great job in single man games. I also want to thank those that normally do not referee in our league for coming out to help us man the fields. As always we need to continue to strive to get better as I had many positive comments this week, I did notice that the games are becoming increasingly intense as playoffs approach and we need to be on our "A games".
Our #1 rule is to keep players safe above anything else. Whenever see physical contact, unless you deem it incidental, you should be flagging it to prevent it from continuing or having the game get out of control. When you allow contact to continue without penalty players and coaches start to become more aggressive and physical. We all know people are watching and players are experiencing it, so when we allow games to get physical it possess a threat and danger to the players, as it is our jobs to protect everyone equally. The reason I'm bringing this up is that I have been officiating in FNL now going on 8 seasons or more and every year I've seen it happen as a normal progression that players, coaches and fans get more intense, which brings out the physical nature of the game of football. So remember the families and these players signed up for Flag Football, not Tackle Football and we must keep them within the framework of the FNL league rules.
We don't want to throw flags on every play, so be sure the fouls are deliberate, physical or create an unfair advantage. What I am trying to say is at this level or any level of football we can throw flags on basically every play, lets make sure that are safety related, physical in nature, excessive and/or give a team an unfair advantage. Like I always say being in the right position helps you to see what actually occurred, let's make sure we are hustling and following the proper mechanics. Keep this in mind when enforcing penalties that some penalties should be first warned and then penalized, such as delay of game or coaching interference depending on the severity of the interference. An example is last week while officiating I had a defense coach on the field yelling pass it's to number 6 and the defensive player turned towards number 6 and picked off the ball. When this happened I blew my whistle and stopped the play, threw a penalty flag, warned the coach that he cannot speak during live ball action or he will receive a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and then replayed the down as the interception did not count. Now I could of gave the penalty yardage as well and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty to the coach, but I choose to warn first which was my judgment call, so it is up to you to determine the severity of this penalty and whether to warn or enforce a penalty. Remember I will never change your call as you know better than I do what happened and why you called it the way you did. I am here to support you always.
We have had several people flagging snap infractions and we need to have a little bit more sensitivity to the deliberate intent of the foul. What I mean is a center is allowed to rotate the ball to position it with the laces where its comfortable, however they may not rotate it end over end and they are not allowed to pick up the ball. Although remember the age group your officiating and be considerate when this happens. If a deliberate snap infraction happens throw your flag, explain to the player and coach what took place and what should happen as a warning first and if it continues then penalize it accordingly. Remember at this level kids with often struggle with the center quarterback exchange, so let's try to help out instead of throwing 10 flags. I will explain this further detail in the Know the Rules blog post this week, please read it.
Rules Question of the Week?
In this week's rules question we will be speaking about the no-run zone. The no-run zone is roughly 4-5 yards from the midfield and the end zone. This means when the offensive team enters the no-run zone they are not allowed to run to advance the ball beyond the line of scrimmage(LOS). However they are allowed to throw as many backward passes as they would like, but the final pass must be forward beyond the LOS to be a legal completion and allow the team to advance the ball. If the forward pass does not go beyond the LOS it is not considered a legal forward pass while in the no-run zone and the penalty will be 10 yards and loss of down for illegal procedure. This is only a penalty when the team is in the no-run zone, you can signal the penalty by using the false start signal of rolling your arms. Keep in mind that if the initial quarter passes the ball backwards, pitches the ball backwards or hands the ball off to a player, the 7 second clock is no longer in effect, although the ball is still required to be thrown forward beyond the LOS to be a legal play. Also after the initial quarterback releases the ball either by passing, pitching or handing it off to another player, any defensive member of the team may now legally rush the passer as the blitzing rules are no longer in effect. If you have any questions please contact me and I will be happy to explain the rule and its interpretation.
I wanted to start off by saying we are getting better each and every week, although we have had some hiccups along the road, I believe the best is yet to come. But to be able to be the best we all must be on the same page so it is important that we read the messages I send out and blogs I post so that we are all in agreement of how we will implement and interpret the management & penalties of the game.
We need to be reasonable in regards to throwing penalty flags, especially with the younger divisions. If we are noticing the same infraction being committed over and over again, instead of throwing a dozen penalty flags lets speak to the coach & explain that the player is committing a penalty by the way they ie. motion, snap the ball, leave early, etc. If the player is still committing the penalty, talk with the player calmly and explain what they need to be doing in order to not have a penalty called, such as watch the ball for movement don't just go on the quarterback's hike command. Most of these kids & some of the coaches are new to football and have no idea of the infraction they are committing, so a little explanation will go a long way in keeping the game fun and exciting for everyone. Trust me when you throw a half a dozen flags on the same team for the same penalty it's not going to be fun for you, the coaches, players or fans. So please be aware of the situation and try to help the coaches and teams before throwing flags. However this doesn't mean don't throw flags when you see a blatant and obvious penalty that affect the outcome of the game. What I am talking about is the small ticky-tacky penalties that can be avoided like false start, snap infraction, illegal shift or motion, etc. Also I expect that even if you call a penalty please take the time to explain why you called it and what you would like to see the player doing instead, to better help the game run more smoothly.
As I have said from the beginning you should be rereading the rules manual which is linked at the bottom of the 2018 Fall Season page, as I have many people questioning me about the interpretation of the rules that a ref told them. We should all be trying to do our best as officials so please don't disregard the blogs, emails or texts that I send because time and time again I have had somebody ask me a direct question about a rule I answered clearly on the blog, which tells me that your not reading the information I am putting. Please know that I already know the rules so I'm writing this information down for your benefit, so take advantage of my knowledge of this league and its rule interpretations as they will help you during crucial times in the game.
I will be in Murrieta for the remainder of the season to help that league with training and officiating issues. I understand this league is bigger which means it has more personalities in regards to teams, coaches and fans. So I will do my best to try to corral any issues as they arise, but please come and get me if you have any questions of the rules interpretations or rowdy coaches, teams and fans. I am here to help you and make the game flow more smoothly. With that said to replace me over at Temecula the Commissioner and I have decided to promote Bill Thomas as Head Field Official for the Temecula League. Bill will be your point of contact when you need rule interpretations, have questions or need assistance with coaches, players or fans. Please seek him out as he will be in charge of moving officials around from field to field to better manage all of the games during the evening, continued training and the authority on any ruling at Temecula. Please listen to him and give him the same respect you shown me as he is more than qualified to fill this position. I will still be available if you need to call, text or email me, so please feel free to reach out. Bill and I will also be meeting to try to amend some of the rules to give more clarity, but this doesn't mean we will be writing a 200 page rule book, remember whenever their is not a rule in our rules manual we will always default to the NFHS - National Federation of High School rules.
Organizing member of iCanReferee & Head Offiicial of Friday Night Lights flag football league. Over 12 years experience with youth flag & tackle football. Major responsibilities are education, on-field training, game assignments, rules interpretation & expanding the organization.