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2019 Little Gridiron
Purpose, Organization and Rules

PURPOSE AND SCOPE

Little Gridiron is designed to introduce full-contact football to eligible students in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades in West Lafayette, Benton County, Jasper County, Newton County, White County, Tippecanoe County and Lafayette Catholic School systems. The emphasis of the program is on safety, fun, sportsmanship, learning and participation.

ORGANIZATION

Little Gridiron is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of head coaches from each of the nine participating programs. This group is responsible for resolving matters of league interest; including finances, rules interpretation, league policy, and any issues regarding coaches or officials.

The officers are appointed at the conclusion of each season and serve for at least one year. The President is responsible for convening the Board, representing the league in a positive manner, and resolving any issues that arise.

Outgoing head coaches are responsible for appointing their replacements! Head coaches should be selected as soon as possible and approved by the Board. Each team must have at least one assistant coach, who may represent the head coach on the governing Board.

ALL head coaches and assistant coaches are required to take a concussion-awareness course approved by the State Department of Education. They must take the course once every two years and pass a test showing they understand the course content.

Certified professional referees (3-man crews) are employed, paid by the league and given speaking seats at meetings.

The league is composed of programs that are school-aligned as closely as possible. Each program is to establish as many teams as possible in order to ensure maximum participation for all players. To this end, teams must be composed of no more than 24 players. Teams may shuffle ONLY 4th grade players between their 3/4 grade and 5/6 grade teams, and the opposing team must be made aware of such roster maneuvers.

Team rosters must be finalized by August 26, 2019.

The league, and each program, is required to submit a financial statement each year.

ELIGIBILITY

For the welfare of the players, no player may participate in any other interscholastic football program while participating in Little Gridiron. All players must be enrolled in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade (Fall 2018) and – at the 3rd/4th grade level – may not reach their 11th birthday before September 1, 2018. At the 5th/6th grade level, players may not reach their 13th birthday before September 1, 2018.

For the prevention of injury, the maximum weight limit at the 5th/6th grade level is 160 lbs. and the minimum weight restriction is 65 lbs. However, any 5th/6th grade player weighing between 151 lbs. and 160 lbs. can ONLY play offensive line (tackle, guard, center) and is prohibited from playing defense. There is also to be a maximum of one such player participating at any given time and ALL players weighing between 151 lbs. and 160 lbs. will be assigned number 00 in order to closely monitor their participation.

At the 3rd/4th grade level, there is no minimum restriction and the maximum weight limit is 120 lbs. Players in the 3rd or 4th grade weighing more than 120 lbs. may play at the 5/6 grade level with parental consent.

The official weigh-in takes place on August 17, 2019, and times are assigned to each participating program. Those who cannot make this weigh-in date have the option of attending a designated alternative weigh-in at Dick’s Sporting Goods on August 21, 2019.

No player shall participate in carrying or advancing the ball who has not participated in the primary weigh-in or the make-up weigh in. No exceptions. The league commissioner and coaches from two different programs (generally understood to be the coach from the program weighing in and the coach from the program either preceding or following that program in the weigh-in schedule) will monitor the weigh-in process. At its designated weigh-in time, the coach from each program will provide three copies of the program roster. If, for whatever reason, a player is unable to attend either the weigh-in or the make-up weigh-in, then they are ineligible to carry the ball.

All players must submit a registration form and have no physical or other disabilities that might impair their participation in the program.

PLAYER EQUIPMENT

Each player must wear a complete set of equipment (helmet with mask and mouth guard, shoulder pads, shoes without metal cleats, and football pants with pads).

Each program is responsible for providing player equipment.

Players are issued team jerseys to be used for games only. Players may wear elbow, wrist and hand pads, provided they do not unsafely interfere with play.

Coaches are responsible for checking equipment daily.

PRACTICE

All teams may begin practice on August 5, 2019. Practices cannot exceed five per week prior to the start of the season or four per week thereafter. No practice can exceed 90 minutes in length.

PHILOSOPHY

The sole purpose of the Little Gridiron program is to provide a fun, safe, challenging and rewarding experience for each and every player. All coaching and administrative decisions must be made with this in mind!

RULES FOR LEAGUE PLAY

IHSAA rules for 7th grade will apply, with the following exceptions:

  1. Quarters for ALL games will be 8 minutes. There will be a 5-minute break at halftime and between games. There will be no overtime. Games are not to begin more than 15 minutes prior to their scheduled start time.
  2. One coach for each team will be allowed on the field, positioned in the backfield no closer than 5 yards behind the deepest player. Their coaching is limited to huddles only. Once the offensive huddle is broken, the (field) coaches must remain silent. If there is no offensive huddle, coaches must remain silent after the ball is signaled as ready for play. Failure to comply will result in a penalty (illegal procedures, 5 yards).
  3. A player’s failure to use a mouth guard will result in a 15-yard penalty.
  4. All offensive backs, receiving ends and pulling guards must weigh 100 lbs. or less (80 lbs. or less at the 3/4 grade level). Tight ends may weigh between 101-130 lbs. (81-100 lbs. for 3/4 grade), but MAY NOT downfield block. Players over 100 lbs. (80 lbs. for 3/4 grade) may NEVER advance or pass the ball! Players exceeding this 100-lb. (80 lb. for 3/4 grade) limit up to 129 lbs. (99 lbs. for 3/4 grade) must wear numbers between 80 and 89. Players weighing between 130 lbs. (100 lbs. for 3/4 grade) and 150 lbs. (120 lbs. for 3/4 grade) must wear numbers between 90 and 99 and be positioned between the tackles at the line of scrimmage. Players weighing between 151 lbs. and 160 lbs. must wear number 00 and are restricted to playing on the offensive line (tackle, guard, center).
  5. Violations of the preceding regulations will result in a 15-yard illegal procedure penalty.

  6. Any player may kick or punt. Teams faced with a deficit of 12 points or more have the option of accepting possession at their own 35-yard line in lieu of receiving a kick.
  7. Players over 100 lbs. (80 lbs. at 3/4 grade level) are NOT eligible to carry the ball or downfield block. They may follow the play downfield but may NOT engage in contact with the opposing team’s players.
  8. Offensive and defensive huddles are to be limited to 40 seconds from the time the ball is set by the official. Failure to comply with this time limit will result in a warning. Subsequent infractions will result in a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty.
  9. The home team must provide three adults to handle the chains and down marker.
  10. Each team must provide one adult to assist in the press box.
  11. Each player MUST play at least one quarter of each game. This is normally interpreted to mean 10 plays.
  12. On defense, only 5-4-2 or 6-3-2 balanced lines are allowed. Defensive nose guard must be across from the offensive center (on a 5-man front), defensive tackles must align across from the offensive tackles and defensive ends must shade the offensive tight ends. If the offensive ends are split, the defensive ends may line up anywhere on the line of scrimmage outside the defensive tackles. Linebackers must be at least 3 yards off the line of scrimmage with lateral movement required at the snap, and two safeties must be positioned at least 7 yards off the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped.
  13. A team MAY declare its intention to punt, kick a field goal or attempt a PAT to the officials, who will relay this to the defensive team. In these situations, NO MOVEMENT across the line of scrimmage is allowed by either team until the ball is kicked. If the ball is fumbled, it must be kicked from where it is recovered. If a team DOES NOT declare its intention to punt, kick a field goal or attempt a PAT, to the officials, then the defense MAY rush at the snap.
  14. Absolutely NO BLITZING is allowed. The penalty is illegal procedure (5 yards).
  15. Any safety violation will be cited immediately and assessed the appropriate penalty. All other violations will be permitted one warning.

COACH BEHAVIOR POLICY

Any coach ejected from any game must leave the field completely and will be suspended from coaching in the next scheduled game. The coach will be allowed to coach during the week to prepare the team but will not be allowed on the premises at the next game, even as a spectator.

Any coach ejected from two games in a season will be immediately suspended for the remainder of the season and for all of the following season. The coach must then re-apply for admission back into the program at the annual Little Gridiron preseason coaches’ meeting.

Furthermore, any coach incurring two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties during the season will receive a mandatory one-game suspension under the terms stated above.

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