All VPA Member Schools grades 9-12 must adhere to the guidelines listed below and strongly recommended for grades 7&8 programs:
This guide is an annual publication of the Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) standing committee on football. The committee members are doing their best to include all necessary information to assist football schools in the proper procedures in the sport. However, you may recognize errors or omissions. We welcome your suggestions to improve this manual.
RULES CHANGES – The VPA follows the Football rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations. Rules changes are listed on the inside of the 2021 Football Rule book. It is the responsibility of every coach to read these rules and changes.
The VPA, the VPA football committee, the VIFL, and the VFCA seek to increase the health and safety of student-athletes participating in Vermont high school football. The required preseason training practice protocols (listed at the back of this guide) reflect the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) Recommendations and Guidelines for Minimizing Head – Impact Exposure and Concussion Risk in Football.
All VPA Football Schools must have their coaches certified by completing the following NFHS Learn Courses @ nfhslearn.com Football Tackling, Heat Illness Prevention, Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Concussion for Sports, and Implicit Bias
Please read and study the guide. If you have questions concerning any rule or regulation, call or write the Executive Director for an explanation.
The following topics are Points of Emphasis for the 2023-2024 year. Please refer to the 2023 NFHS Football Rules Book for a detailed explanation.
1. The fall season may start on Monday, August 14th and conclude on Saturday, November, November 11th. No player shall participate in a scrimmage (interscholastic) until the player has had seven (7) practice sessions* Players must complete 10 practices before their first game. Prior to the first contact practice all players shall receive information on risk awareness and safe tackling techniques.
A special provision for Spring Football practice is as follows:
Voluntary out-of-season football practice (grades 9-11) in the State of Vermont shall consist of a maximum of six (6) practice days to be completed in such a manner so that they will not conflict with Winter or Spring Sport Seasons. Furthermore, the emphasis in this program shall be on organization, indoctrination, instruction, and experimentation. The only equipment allowed will be limited helmets and football shoes. The use of 8th graders cannot be included in Spring Football practices.
There will be absolutely no person-to-person contact allowed and these six days will be concluded during the school year. No protective equipment can be worn, but bags and shields can be used. This program is not to be made mandatory for a school’s athletes and if any athlete should be involved in a post-season competition that presents a conflict (i.e. New England Track Meet), that player will not participate in out-of-season football. It is strongly recommended that all schools choosing to run this program adhere to the seven-day rest period.
Schools with early closing should be given the option to get in spring practice up to the normal school closing in June. It was noted this proposal had been carefully worked out with athletic directors, principals, the football committee, and Executive Council.
2. Vermont schools may schedule a maximum of eight (8) games excluding the state championship events. No games or scrimmages may be arranged with any squads or teams that are not high school teams. Week 9 will be the first round of playoffs.
3. Each player is eligible to play a maximum number of 32 quarters (which is the number of games allowed for the season times 4 quarters; 8 x 4 = 32 quarters, exclusive of overtime). It is recommended a student not compete in more than one game (4 quarters) of interscholastic football in five (5) calendar days.
It is further clarified that special teams’ participation should have no bearing on eligibility for the next game (kick-off, kick-off return, punt, punt return, extra point, and field goal).
Varsity starters are ineligible for sub-varsity games.
4. Only captains will be allowed on the field during pregame and half-time meetings with officials.
5. Officials fees for 2023 will be Varsity – $85 & JV- $57.
6. Suspended/Canceled Games: If a game is suspended (pre-game activities started), officials will receive full fee plus mileage.
If a game is canceled with adequate prior notification (2 hours) no fee!
If a game is canceled without adequate prior notification and officials are present — they will receive one half-game fee, plus mileage.
7. Suspension of a game-final decision concerning the suspension/resumption of a delayed game lies with the host administrator. The host administrator will take all factors into consideration including an attempt to contact and get input from the visiting administrator.
8. A point differential rule has been implemented. See Section VIII for full details.
9. All schools are to play their schedule as assigned by the VIFL. Any changes must be approved by the VPA/VIFL. If a school cancels their season, it cannot be re-implemented during that season.
10. A decision by a school to forfeit any regular season game, shall be accompanied by prior notice to the VPA and VIFL. A decision to forfeit a second game by the same school, absent prior approval from the VPA, shall result in a termination of the remainder of that school’s varsity schedule.
1. The playing rules as adopted and published by the National Federation of State High School Associations for the current year shall be standard for all games. COACHES: Read carefully, the special notes on Rules and Points of Emphasis.
2. No more than two innings (4 downs for a team from the ten-yard line equals one-half inning) each to be used as a tiebreaker procedure in sub-varsity level games.
3. All varsity game ejections arising from penalties assessed for conduct during play where ejection is provided by the rule shall be reviewed by both VFOA commissioners and the VFOA rules interpreter to confirm the proper application of the rule. A final determination by VFOA will be delivered to the VPA and the VIFL Executive Secretary no later than noon on the Monday following the game in which the ejection occurred Note: in the 2023 Football season, any team (coach and Principal or AD) that acquires more than two ejections will be required to meet with the Activities Standards Committee before entering or continuing in the tournament. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss steps being taken to address this situation.
4. Advise all opponents before the season begins of your jersey colors, home and away, and submit a roster of all possible players to scheduled schools. Schools also need to notify opponents and officials if an equipment waiver has been granted.
5. The official site administrator, clock operator, and scorer will be identified to the referee. WHEN FIELD SCOREBOARD CLOCKS ARE USED THEY SHALL BE OFFICIAL, OTHERWISE THOSE CLOCKS SHALL BE TURNED OFF. The clock operator will meet with game officials 30 minutes prior to the start of the game. Every clock operator should possess a fundamental knowledge of football rules, signals and game administration as well as proficiency in operation of the timing system in use. Chain crews and equipment are important to game administration and each school must provide a full, competent crew and serviceable equipment.
6. Sub-varsity Games are 12-minute quarters unless there is mutual agreement by both schools.
7. Recommended Pre-game ceremonies – Following a team’s introduction, players shall leave the field and return to the bench area. Only team captains may return to the field for the coin toss. Note: (suggested protocol) Each school needs to provide a protocol sheet upon arrival prior to a team going on the field.
8. Point Differential Rule
Required Coaching Certification Courses: NFHS Football Tackling Course, Heat Illness, and Sudden Cardiac in conjunction with all VPA-mandated requirements (CPR/First Aid, Concussion, Implicit Bias)
Use Good Communication:
The coach bears the greatest burden of responsibility for good sportsmanship. The example set carries through to not only players but to the spectators as well as the entire community. They must abide by the rules of the game and respect the integrity and judgment of the officials. The coach’s own ethics and integrity must be above reproach. An ethical coach would not:
Other performing groups must be approved by the V.P.A..
Seating provisions will be provided in each game for the bands on the appropriate side of the field. The half-time show must be worked out by the two band directors involved; the pre-game ceremonies, which involved the playing of the National Anthem five minutes before game time will be performed by: (1) the home team band, or in the event the home team does not have a band or musical group with them, then the visiting team band, and if there is no band, then a recording will be used.
Overall Quality Point Rating System
Effective Fall 2015 the following Coaches Film Exchange Policy is in Effect.
Coaches will exchange their last two game/scrimmage films with their upcoming opponent (as outlined in the diagram below) to be sent out no later than Tuesday 10 – 11 days prior to the game. If the teams are Hudl software users they would be required to give your opponent access to the game/scrimmage films by that Thursday, no later than 12:00 noon. Failure to exchange films by Thursday will result in the sending school assuming the responsibility to personally deliver the films to the receiving school no later than that Friday.
Understand that the above requirement is a minimum expectation for all VIFL schools to follow. If coaches mutually agree to meet and exchange films; this is acceptable, but not required. It would also be ideal that all footage to be exchanged is shot with a sideline view, but again not required. It is also recommended that teams investigate the possibility of using a service like Hudl to streamline this process. Also pursuant to the VPA Football Guide, there is to be no “Third Party” exchange of films at any time.
Films to be sent – Most recent by Sunday by Noon
Last 2 games of the previous year & Scrimmage
Last game of the previous year, Scrimmage, Week 1 Game
Scrimmage, Week 1 Game, Week 2 Game
Week 1 Game, Week 2 Game, Week 3 Game
Week 2 Game, Week 3 Game, Week 4 Game
Week 3 Game, Week 4 Game, Week 5 Game
Week 4 Game, Week 5 Game, Week 6 Game
Week 5 Game, Week 6 Game, Week 7 Game
Week 6 Game, Week 7 Game, Week 8 Game
Week 7 Game, Week 8 Game, Week 9 Game
Week 8 Game, Week 9 Game, Week 10 Game
The Vermont Principals’ Association (VPA) and the VPA Football Committee seek to increase the health and safety of student-athletes participating in Vermont high school football. The following training rule changes reflect the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Recommendations and Guidelines for Minimizing Head Impact Exposure and Concussion Risk in Football.
The VPA Football Committee will amend these rules as new evidence emerges and in keeping with future NFHS recommendations. The following rules shall apply to the 2016 Vermont high school football season and subsequent seasons as may be revised and amended.
Air: Activities are executed without the use of bags or player opposition.
Bags: Activities are executed against a bag, shield or pad to allow for a soft-contact surface, with or without the resistance of a teammate or coach.
Tag Touch: Drills run at full speed up to the point of contact, above the waist with the players remaining on their feet. Contact is controlled by players tagging an opponent.
Thud: Same as tag touch but the tempo is competitive with no pre-determined winner and the players are not tackling to the ground.
Live Action: Contact at game speed where players execute full tackles at competitive pace, taking players to the ground.
Full Contact: Live game simulations where live action occurs (11 on 11).
Jog-through: An on-field meeting for the purpose of learning new plays. Must be separated from practice by at least three hours and is not to exceed 90 minutes. Activities are done at a a jog pace. No conditioning is allowed. Helmets are the only protective equipment permitted.
Team Meeting: An off-field meeting in which coaches may give verbal instruction or show film for the purpose of educating players. No physical activity is permitted during team meetings.
Helmets and Shoulder Pads Only
Full Protective Equipment
No Scrimmages Allowed