High School Football

‘Long overdue.’ UIL makes changes to targeting penalty for 2019 TXHSFB season

RAW: Arlington defenders team up to make a hard tackle vs. Plano East

Arlington defenders Kyron White and X'zavion McDonald key in on a hard tackle of a Plano East player during the second quarter Friday night.
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Arlington defenders Kyron White and X'zavion McDonald key in on a hard tackle of a Plano East player during the second quarter Friday night.

The goal for the UIL is to always make the sports it sanctions as safe and fair as possible for its student-athletes.

Sometimes, that means modifying the rules, which is exactly what it did as it pertains to targeting.

It is one of the toughest calls officials have to make. The old rule called for an automatic ejection.

The UIL stated during its Texas High School Coaches Association’s coaching school in Houston last week that there will be two levels of targeting this season, one resulting in an ejection and one in the form of a 15-yard penalty.

“We’ve had conversations throughout the season,” said UIL Director of Athletics Susan Elza. “The complaint about targeting was it was either being over-called or under-called and there was no middle ground.

“The first level is an egregious targeting with an intent to harm. That’s an automatic ejection. There’s also targeting where the player had no intent to harm, which is a 15-yard penalty such as a personal foul.”

A player will be ejected if they are called for two targeting penalties.

“Good for protection, but it will be tough for officials to make a decision to eject a kid on one view,” Boswell coach John Abendschan said. “Replay would help that immensely, but overall it’s safety for the kids and that’s never a bad thing.”

Texas is the only state that follows the NCAA rules guideline when it comes to fitting the high school game.

“Long overdue,” Sam Houston coach Anthony Criss said. “It’s hard to make the call without instant replay.”

Elza and her team discussed the modification with the Texas High School Coaches Association and Texas Association of Sports Officials.

“Good modification,” Haltom coach Jason Tucker said. “Sometimes the player being hit is the one that causes the hit to look like targeting by moving right before impact.”

“Before, a player was ejected from the game. We’ve pulled back the layers on it. With no instant replay, we’re trying to make this adjustment an easier call for the officials,” Elza added. “Anyway we can help increase and promote safety in our game.”

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Born and raised in Hawaii, Brian Gosset graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in journalism before coming to Texas in 2014. He’s covered high school sports — yes, pretty much every high school sport — for the Star-Telegram ever since.
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