By Bailey Faulkner
Football fans of the High Country rejoice: the High Country Grizzlies’ first game will take place on Saturday, March 25. Part of the National Arena League (NAL), the Grizzlies will take on the Lehigh Valley Steelhawks with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.
While the addition of a team to the High Country surely has football and sports fans excited, the style of play will be very different to that of ASU’s home games at Kidd Brewer Stadium. While the NAL generally shares many of the rules established by other arena football leagues, there are a few key distinctions to be made.
Here is a general overview of the new league’s rules and regulations.
Fields will be made of an artificial surface spanning 85 feet in width and 50 yards in length with end zones eight to ten yards in length. Fields will be marked at every five-yard increment running wall-to-wall and parallel to the goal line.
12-inch hash marks will be placed five feet from the center of the field for each yard down the length of the playing area. Team logos may be added to playing fields with approval from the league.
Out-of-bounds areas will be marked by dasher boards on all sides of the field. The 48-inch tall barriers will be made of high-density foam rubber. The entirety of end zones will be marked by white, four-to-six-inch out-of-bounds lines.
Tops of the dasher boards will be considered out of bounds. “The field of play is determined by making it ‘within the walls,'” according to the league and the Grizzlies’ website. However, a loose ball that bounces off dasher boards will be ruled live and in play.
The Goal Posts
Goal posts will be located above the center of each end wall. Posts will be positioned 10 feet from the ground and will span 10 feet in width. Uprights are required to extend an additional 20 feet above the height of the crossbar.
All goal posts will be colored with fluorescent “Autumn Yellow” paint. Kicking blockades will be placed at a minimum of five feet behind each goal post to prevent balls from entering the crowd.
All games will be played with league-approved footballs. Teams must have 60 approved balls available at the beginning of each matchup. Players cannot throw or hand balls to the crowd at any time.
Upon a touchdown, players must drop the ball at the site of the touchdown or hand the ball to an official. Players are also not allowed to spike balls, and any violation of these rules will result in a 10-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Players may also receive a fine for violating these rules.
Five officials will preside over each regulation game. The officials will include one referee, umpire, linesman, line judge and back judge. Officials will retain jurisdiction beginning upon entrance to the venue and ending when all officials have departed the location.
Entry to officials’ locker rooms before the beginning of matches is prohibited.
Up to 25 players, active or inactive, will be allowed on a team’s bench during regulation play. Non-players, including team doctors, trainers and others, must wear official team apparel while sitting on the bench. Coaches are allowed to communicate using coach-to-coach communication devices. Before each game, home coaches and officials will decide which bench the home team will take.
Teams are limited to having one coach on the field at any time. The coach must stand 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage and against the dasher boards upon the beginning of each play. Coaches are allowed to enter the field past the top of the numbers only during a timeout. Violations of this rule will result in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, followed by an additional unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and a loss of the coach’s sideline privileges for the remainder of the match upon a second offense.
Ejected players and coaches must return to their team’s locker room for the remainder of the match.
A coin toss will take place before each game, with four 15-minute quarters following. Games will be played with a modified running clock, and overtime will be held in the event of a tie at the end of regulation play. Regular media timeouts will take place during each game.
Live balls will be considered dead in the event of any of the following:
- Any part of the runner’s body, except his hand or foot touches the ground
- Any part of the runner’s body touches the dasher board
If a player remains on the ground after sliding, slipping or falling, officials will sound whistles indicating that the player is down. During the final minute of each half, runners that touch a dasher board, whether intentionally or not, will be declared out of bounds, causing the game clock to stop.
During the fourth quarter, teams with the lead and on offense must advance the ball past the line of scrimmage in order to keep the game clock running. Failing to move the ball forward will result in a stopping of the clock, which will resume after the next legal snap.
Players, Alignment, Equipment
Each team will have an active roster of 20 players and an inactive roster of up to five players. Each team will have eight players on the field at any one time.
Each team will have a center, one guard on each side of the center, three receivers, a quarterback and a running back. A team’s entire offense must come to a set for at least one second before any player begins motion. The running back, stationed in the box at the snap, is the only player that may receive a handoff in the offensive box.
Defensive lineman are allowed to “stunt, loop, twist or scrape,” but cannot drop or move laterally into pass coverage. Violation of this rule constitutes an illegal defense. Blitzing is allowed for one linebacker only for each play. If blitzing, the linebacker must navigate between two defensive linemen in the “A” gap only. There also must be “daylight” between the defensive linemen and both linebackers.
For a more detailed breakdown of rules regarding players, alignment, equipment and other aspects of the game, click here.
While the rules of the NAL may be a little different from college rules and ASU football with which the High Country has grown accustomed, Grizzlies football in the Holmes Convocation Center will certainly be a must-see for football and sports fans in the High Country and beyond.
The Grizzlies’ first home game will be against the Lehigh Steelhawks on Saturday, March 25. Tickets can be purchased online through the High Country Grizzlies’ website. You can click here to buy tickets for the upcoming match. Season tickets are also still available.
General admission tickets to Saturday’s game will be $12 for adults and $9 for children seven to 12 years of age. Reserved seating tickets will be $18 for adults and $13 for children seven to 12 years of age.
It’s an exciting time for football in the High Country. Click here to check out the Grizzlies’ newly-named, 24-player final roster for the season!