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Rules Interpretation

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This is an academic question only, since the season is long over and the game in question ended with us in total control, but I am wondering if you would see things as I did or not. I have pasted the relevant league rules precisely as they are written below. After the rules I will detail the situation. Just FYI, all season long we had seen teams line up red and green stripers as tight ends who, as is the norm for our league, block only.

League Rules, as written:

c. No player weighing more than 110 pounds can play in a position which can advance the ball.

d. Red or green tape must be placed on the helmets of players not allowed to advance the ball. This designation is based on the player’s weight. Once players have been taped or "striped” they will remain that way the remainder of the season.

8. In the Junior division, a player weighing up to 110 pounds has no position restrictions. Any player weighing over 110 up to 135 will be designated with a red stripe on their helmet. A “red stripe” player cannot play in a ball carrying position and cannot advance the ball. In the event of a fumble recovery or interception, they are required to down the ball by dropping to their knee. Any player weighing over 135 up to 160 will be designated with a green stripe on their helmet. A “green stripe” player can only play on the interior offensive and defensive line and cannot advance the ball. Red stripe players are allowed to punt: however, they cannot advance the ball. If the ball is fumbled the play is blown dead.

Just as an add on, the league, this year for the first time allowed red or green stripe players to kick extra points (league rules require you to declare 2 point kick or 1 point advancement prior to the play being run and does not allow fakes) but not to kick FG which do not require the declaration and does allow fakes.

We had a red striper who, to be honest was not much of a football player and, even at the upper level of the age group was a back-up to kids two or three years his junior. One of the goals we set as coaches was to ensure that every kid leaving the junior division had scored a TD. We realized that this young man had not, in three years, carried the ball even once, but he was an 11 year old red striper backing up our 8 year old TE and our 9 year old tackle on the offensive line. There was never a problem with him lining up as TE, even when he ran a route as a decoy. (We never throw to him as he just wasn't reliable.)

About mid way though the season, we were playing a team that we far outmatched and we knew it going in. Our first TD of the game, we lined him up as TE as we had for three previous games and he ran a fade route and the QB tossed one up in the air for him. He pulled it in, in the end zone and immediately took a knee. I contend that the score was valid as he was not "advancing" the ball, but we were given a loss of downs and a 10 yard penalty for inelgible player down field.

Not that it mattered because we were able to score at will, and I think it was great for his self esteem, but if this had been a close game, would you think this score counted?

Another point to consider, we had a red striper playing MLB and he intercepted a pass in the end zone, took a knee and we were awarded the ball on the 20 as you would expect.

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Hey there K, I think it comes down to what the league defines as a "ball carrying position". My initial interpretation would be that any back or potential receiver (including TE) would be a ball carrying position. Since there is not a clear definition for "ball carrying position" in the rules you quoted above, here is my logic for coming to this conclusion:

  1. I would consider any yardage gained whether by running or catching, an advancement of the ball, and since only a receiver, running back or quarterback can advance the ball, I would say their meaning by ballcarrying position is anyone who would normally touch the ball during the game.
  2. The point you made about the MLB intercepting does not apply, because he did not "advance the ball". He intercepted it on defense and took a knee, which is legal.

Also be aware that just because the officials don't call things in previous games doesn't mean they were legal. Officals often miss things or fail to call out every rule violation. I'm not saying I agree with these rules, but this is the best interpretation I can make of the situation.

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That is esentially what the refs ruled and I, along with the head coach, accepted.

That being said, following our league rules, and I believe current HS rules, any lineman, except the center, can become a legal ball carrier by simply turing his body so that he is facing parrellel to the line of scrimmage prior to receiving possesion of the ball. In my (probably warped view) that makes every lineman other than the center a potential ball carrying position. With that in mind and taking into account rule "C" as stated above, would that not mean that the only positions that a red or green stripe player could legally play on offense would be the center? Red and green striped players dominate the offensive line of scrimmage at tackle and guard in this league.

Before the flaming starts, please take into account that I would never show any disrepect for the rules, or the refs ruling, in front of the kids. Also, I think things like the A11 offense and the "Wrong Ball" play are great examples of following the rules, not the spirit, and are genius.

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I think you're looking for a technical "loophole" to make your argument instead of looking at it from an objective point of view.

I don't think anyone who is being realistic would consider a lineman a normal "ball carrying posiition".

I think that most would agree that the intent of the rule is to keep smaller kids from getting bulldozed by larger kids playing the skill positions (i.e. running back, reciever, QB).

The rules above clearly state that green stripes can play any interior O-line or D-line position, so everything but Tackle or End. So that clearly spells out where they can and can not play. If you come across green stripes playing Tackle I would say you have a clear rule violation and should bring it to the refs attention. It looks like red stripes can play any O-line or D-line position.

I understand why you would like the league to allow everyone opportunities to get the ball, I definitely get that. Unfortunately in your league, it looks like your big guys are gonna have to move up to the next weight class if they want to do get ball touches.

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