During close high school playoff games, a successful onside kickoff can change the momentum and the outcome of the game.
Here are some onside kick situations to test your rules knowledge.
Play One: Trailing by 7 points, the kicking team lines up with four players on one side of the “kicker” and six players on the other side. As the “kicker” starts toward the football, a teammate on the side of four players rushes to the ball and kicks it on the ground. After the ball rolls for 10 yards, it is recovered by a teammate at the opponent’s 49-yard line. What is the result of this play?
Answer: The player who actually kicks the football is the kicker. Since there were only three players remaining on one side of the football when the kick occurred, this is a foul for illegal formation. After a 5-yard penalty, a second kickoff will occur from the 35-yard line.
Play Two: On a kickoff from the 40-yard line, the kicker drives the ball into the ground. The ball bounces once and goes high into the air. With a receiver in position to catch the ball at the opponent’s 48-yard line, a kicking team player jumps in front of the receiver and catches the football, carrying it to the 45-yard line where he is tackled. What is the result of this play?
Answer: When the football is driven into the ground, bounces once and goes high into the air, a receiving team player in position to catch the ball has an unimpeded opportunity to make the catch. The kicking team player commits a foul for kick-catch interference. The penalty is 15 yards from the spot of the foul and first down for the receiving team.
Play Three: On an onside kick from the 40-yard line, the football is rolling at the kicking team’s 48-yard line when a kicking team player blocks a receiving team player at the 50-yard line. The ball had not been touched by the receiving team prior to the block. The kicking team recovers the football at the 50-yard line. What is the result of this play?
Answer: The kicking team is not allowed to block until they can legally recover the football after it has traveled 10 yards or been touched by the receiving team. Since the kicking team recovered the football, they will re-kick from the 35-yard line after a 5-yard penalty.
Play Four: During an onside kick from the 40-yard line, the loose football is rolling near the sideline as the players scramble to recover it. One receiving team player is the first player to touch the loose football, diving and grabbing the ball inbounds at the 50-yard line while one of his legs is laying across the sideline. What is the result of this play?
Answer: Since the player was touching the sideline when he recovered the football, this is a kickoff out of bounds. The 5-yard penalty will be added to the spot of the recovery. First-and-10 for the receiving team at the opponent’s 45-yard line.