Be the Referee

Football, Officials

Be the Referee: Pass Interference

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

September 2, 2021

This week, MHSAA officials coordinator Sam Davis explains the differences in high school pass interference rules from those at the college and pro levels.

Be The Referee is a series of short messages designed to help educate people on the rules of different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Below is this week's segment – Pass Interference – Listen 

One of the big differences between high school football and the college or pro game is how pass interference is called.

In high school, there is no such thing as an “uncatchable” pass. If there is illegal contact by the defender while the ball is in the air, that’s pass interference, no matter where the pass ultimately ends up.

Also – in high school – a defender can “face guard” as long as no contact is made with the receiver. That is not pass interference, even if the defender does not look back for the ball. 

Both of those interpretations differ from the college and pro game. Both (of those) levels have an uncatchable exception, and neither allows for face guarding. 

Keep that in mind the next time you think you’ve spotted pass interference at the high school level.

Previous editions

Aug. 26: Protocols and Mechanics  Listen