MONUMENT - Hoping to continue the trend of working toward more safety measures to prevent injuries in football, Colorado will enact a new, experimental rule to help prevent blindside hits.
Colorado will be one of four states this season to test the rule.
On Tuesday, several dozen coaches and officials met at Palmer Ridge High School to have the new rule explained.
Blindside blocks will be illegal this season in high school football in Colorado. However, players will be allowed to make those blocks if they use their hands and keep those hands extended from their body. Blindside blocks will still be permitted in the free-blocking zone.
"The beauty of this rule is that it increases player safety without affecting the way the game is played," rules interpreter George Demetriou said before presenting to the group. "Because when a player is blindsided, it is very easy to knock him over because he doesn't know the contact is coming."
Demetriou cited the downward trend over the last three years of participation in football because of the perceived opportunity for injury as a reason for the rule. He and officials around the state are hoping this will limit some of those injuries.
"We're trying to get the coaches to teach the players that you don't have to bulldoze the guy and flatten him out when he doesn't know you're coming," Demetriou said. "Just a simple shove with the hands will achieve the football purpose of the play."
The block doesn't have to come from the rear or the side, either. As long as the player doesn't see the block coming, it will be deemed illegal. It's those kinds of hits that can lead to immediate injury.
Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii are the other states testing the rule.
After the season, Demetriou said data will be compiled to see if the rule, or some variation of it, should become permanent.
He showed videos of various examples of blocks that will be ruled illegal this season. Some were blocks that seemed obvious to make illegal. Others drew questions because of hits that looked like solid blocks.
Discovery Canyon coach Shawn Mitchell was on hand and could see both sides of the argument for and against the new rule.
"I understand the nature of the rule, I guess I understand why they are doing it," Mitchell said. "... This all comes on the heels of some real negative publicity about football."
He's also hoping it will help shed a better light on the game.
"If there are some things that will make the sport safer, but it is a little bit difficult to see the way some of these rules are coming down, and in a sense changes the game," he said.
Mitchell wasn't sure how he would explain the rule to his players.
"Walking out of this meeting, I'm not even sure how I approach it," Mitchell said. "I'm not sure if that's just a very brief discussion with your guys about how you make contact with somebody, or is it, you don't address it until it happens. I don't know."
Demetriou was glad Colorado had the opportunity to be at the forefront of the experiment.
"We just saw an opportunity to make the game safer in Colorado," he said. "We're highly confident that a rule of this nature ... is going to pass next year, so we'll be that much ahead of everybody else in getting it right."