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  1. I am in the process of submitting a proposed mechanics manual change to the IHSAA, to be forwarded to the NFHS football rules committee. I’d like to hear thoughts on it from officials. Of course, anyone else is welcome to chime in, if you have an opinion. But this is fairly technical officiating stuff, and may not interest fans. The current 5 man punt coverage mechanic has R lining up on the kicking leg side of the formation, and BJ assuming a position on the HL side of the field. HL holds at the snap, waiting until the kick crosses the neutral zone before moving to cover downfield. LJ releases at the snap and sprints down his sideline to provide coverage on the opposite side of the field from BJ. The problem with this coverage mechanic is that at least once a game, we find R and BJ on the same side of the field. When LJ releases at the snap, you have an entire side of the field uncovered. If there’s a fake to the LJ side, or a blocked kick that goes that way, the play becomes impossible to officiate since there is, literally, no one over there. The change I am proposing fixes that, without compromising downfield coverage. It’s called the “alternating wing mechanic,” and is similar to the mechanics change implemented on scoring kicks several years ago. Here’s how it works. R assumes his normal position on the kicking leg side, except that he’s wider. If there’s a fake or a blocked kick to his side, he has primary responsibility for the sideline and secondarily, for the forward progress spot. BJ lines up deeper than the deepest receiver, and to the side opposite R. The wing official on R’s side releases at the snap for downfield coverage, as LJ does under the current mechanic. He is responsible for covering the kick and the return on the side opposite BJ. The wing official opposite R holds until the kick crosses the neutral zone and then moves downfield to cover ahead of BJ. If there’s a fake or block to R’s side, he is also responsible for crossfield determination of the forward progress spot, along with U. This mechanic provides superior coverage in the event of a fake or blocked kick to R’s side without sacrificing any downfield coverage. In fact, there were a number of crews already using this mechanic, until the IHSAA edict came down that crews would be downgraded if they were observed using any mechanic other than the one prescribed by the NFHS Game Officials Manual. What say ye?
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