Football Regulations

Click HERE for a printable pdf of the 2015 football regulations.

Click HERE for Contact Practice Regulations

Click HERE for a pdf of Jr High Regulations



  1. Eliminate the “Team Areas” regulation stating – “visiting team shall be opposite home fans’ primary seating area”.
  2. Define and Institute Contact Practice rules.
  3. 9 man playoff brackets for 2015-16


  1. The season is determined by the NDHSAA Board of Directors
  2. High school teams may play a maximum of 9 games and one pre-season scrimmage prior to the NDHSAA playoffs
  3. Jr. High school teams may play a maximum of 8 games and one pre-season scrimmage
  4. Nine daily practices (counting only one per day) are required for teams and individuals prior to    the first interscholastic competition.  The first three days for each individual are for conditioning and while shoulder pads and helmets can be worn, there shall be no inter-player contact.
    1. Up to three non-contact conditioning practices may be excused if an individual misses those days of practice due to attending basic military training.  Six days of conventional practice in pads are required before inter-scholastic competition.
  5. Contact Practice Rules:(link):
  6. No more than 2 games may be played by a team in any six day period or more than 8 quarters by an individual.  Junior high individuals may play no more than 6 quarters in one day. (The penalty for violation is forfeit the game in which the violation occurred and the student who violated must sit out the next scheduled day/night of competition).
  7. Overtimes are to be played at the varsity level only. Overtimes in all divisions are to be played as per NFHS “Resolving Tied Games” procedure. 
  8. If a touchdown is scored on the last play of the 4th quarter or overtime, the try is attempted if the point(s) affect playoff qualifying. 
  9. Officials registered by the NDHSAA are required for high school games.  High school juniors and seniors who are registered can officiate high school games below the JV level with a registered adult (for JrHi, it is recommended that the adult be a registered official). 
  10. No games may be played after the state finals.
  11. The NDHSAA will select dates, times and sites (normally the home field of the higher seeded   team) for all play-off games.  When non-school facilities are used, the maximum fee to be paid by the NDHSAA is $500.
  12. The higher seeded team will be designated as the home team. When like seeds play, the odd number region will be designated as the home team in odd numbered years and vice versa.  When like seeds and regions play, the top line on the bracket is home in odd numbered years and the bottom line on the bracket is home in even numbered years.
  13. A team that forfeits and does not play a scheduled contest for reasons other than “acts of God” will be ineligible for play-offs.    A team receiving a forfeit will receive a 17-point maximum in tie-breaking situations.
  14. If a school chooses to play an independent schedule during the two-year plan, any varsity team that plays an independent team will be ineligible for play-offs
  15. The NDHSAA will select all officials and assign jersey colors for play-off games.
  16. For play-offs:
    1. 9-Man teams may dress a maximum of 40 players; only 40 can wear team jerseys.
    2. A teams may dress a maximum of 50 players; only 50 can wear team jerseys.
    3. AA teams may dress a maximum of 55 players; only 55 can wear team jerseys.
    4. AAA teams may dress a maximum of 60 players; only 60 can wear team jerseys.
  17. There will be no scheduled practices the day before the Dakota Bowl unless it is a non-school day for all schools involved.  When allowed, all arrangements for said practices are the responsibility of the individual schools. (NDHSAA Board 8/11/2000)
  18. The order of games played the first day (9-man division & A Division) of the Dakota Bowl is to be alternated annually.
  19. The NDHSAA will provide suitable team awards for first, second and teams defeated in semifinals. 
  20. Individual participation awards will be provided for all quarterfinal and defeated semifinal teams with champions and runners-up receiving plaques:
    1. 9-Man teams will receive 41 with each school being billed for 7
    2. A teams will receive 51 with each school being billed for 10
    3. AA teams will receive 56 with each school being billed for 15
    4. AAA teams will receive 61 with each school being billed for 20
    5. Key fobs will be available for assistant coaches for which schools will be billed
      *Each coach shall organize team personnel for recognition of each and remind players that their game jerseys need to be worn for said recognition.
  21. Teams will furnish their own game balls unless the coaches agree to use the same ball.
  22. The football running time provision in rule 3-1-1 will be implemented as follows: 
    1. After the first half, whenever the point differential reaches 30 or more (including Dakota Bowl games), the clock will continue running when...
      1. The ball goes out of bounds.
      2. A forward pass is incomplete.
      3. After a touchdown and during the try (unless it reduces the lead to less than 30 points)
      4. A first down is declared
    2. The clock will be stopped on all other situations as specified in rule 3-4-4.  Review official's timeouts 3-5-7.
    3. Note: The use of this rule does not preclude rule 3-1-3, which reads: “A period or periods may be shortened in any emergency by agreement by opposing coaches and the referee. By mutual agreement of the opposing coaches and the referee, any remaining period may be shortened at any time or the game terminated.”
  23. By state association adoption, the pre-game sportsmanship meeting and coin toss shall be held with 5:00 remaining on the pre-game warm up clock, unless prior mutual agreement of opposing coaches and the referees.


  • No season passes are honored for the play-offs.
  • Passes are for players, cheerleaders, statisticians, student managers, trainers, etc. If a school requests extra passes, such request will be granted and the cost of an adult season ticket for each pass will be deducted from the school’s team payment.
    • 9-Man teams can receive up to 52 passes
    • A teams can receive up to 64 passes
    • AA teams can receive up to 69 passes
    • AAA teams can receive up to 74 passes
  • A maximum of eight complimentary game passes shall be afforded each participating team in the pre-quarter through semi-final rounds
  • Administrations of passes is the responsibility of game management
  • The NDHSAA gold metal pass is the only other pass honored

Play-off Qualifying:

9-Man, A, AA, and AAA Divisions:

The top four teams in each region as determined by region record will qualify for the play-offs. 

* If a tie occurs in any region, said region may use its own tiebreaker.  Otherwise, the “optional tiebreaker” will be used.

Tournament Expense Allowance: Team payments will be made at the end of each fiscal year using the approved formula found on the NDHSAA home page, “Team Payment Plan”.
9-MAN:   (Maximum 27 Players & 3 Coaches)
11-MAN:  (Maximum 33 Players & 5 Coaches)

Optional Tiebreaker:
If a region wishes to use a different tiebreaking formula for a two-year football plan, a majority of the schools in the region must agree and the region shall then notify the NDHSAA office in writing prior to the first allowable contest for that season(s).

Step 1:     Among tied teams, the region record (*head-to-head competitions) determines placement.

             *Head-to-head competitions are defined as an overall collective record among tied teams.

Step 2:    If a tie still exists:

  1. The team with the highest point differential (17-point per game maximum) among those tied teams is first.  Remove the first place team from the group. 
  2. Repeat Step 2A until the region record between the remaining tied teams can be used.
    1. CASE I:
      1. A five-team tie. Step 1, compare the point differentials among teams A, B, C, D and E. Team A has the highest point total. 
        1. RULING: Team A is first. Then, the region record among the remaining tied teams, B is 2-1, C is 2-1, D is 1-2 and E is 1-2.  In this case B & C are 2nd & 3rd as determined by region record with Step 1.
    2. CASE II:
      1. When teams A, B, and C are tied: 
        1. Team B defeated C and A. 
          1. RULING:  Step 1 would determine B to be first and the region game between C and A would determine 2nd and 3rd. 
          2. If A defeated B, B defeated C and C defeated A. 
            1. RULING:  Step 2-A would be used to find the top team and step 2-B, the region game between the other two would determine 2nd and 3rd.  If two teams have the same point differential in a three-team tie, Step 1 would break the tie.

Step 3.  If a tie still exists:

  1. The team with the highest point differential (17-point per game maximum) in all region contests is first.  Remove the first place team from the group.
  2. Repeat step 2a until the region record between the remaining tied teams can be used.  If two team shave the same point differential in a three-team tie, Step 1 would be used to break the tie.

Step 4.  If all teams involved remain tied in point differential after Step 3, the names of tied teams will be placed in a hat and drawn 1st, 2nd, etc. until steps 1 and 2 can be used among remaining tied teams.  Head-to-head competition shall be used whenever possible.


  • Teams involved in the first round are encouraged to exchange videos of the two previous games or suitable substitutes as determined by the coaches involved.
  • Home teams involved in play-off games should video the games and distribute copies to the visiting team and to the opponent of the winning team for the next play-off game.

            Online tests will be available and must be completed.

            * Watch the website for details and updates.

** Penalty for not completing the test within this time is: Coaches $50 which must be paid before any post season play and Officials will drop one classification.

Each school is responsible for players and students attending tournaments. Suitable chaperones should accompany each delegation.

The host school band or a high school band in the city where the tournament is held shall be designated as the official band. However, the manager may appoint bands from other schools if necessary.

* Only the appointed band is admitted free of charge for each session.

Please prominently place the following statement in Tournament Programs.

“Good sportsmanship is displaying a commitment to fair play, ethics and integrity.  Please display good sportsmanship throughout the tournament.  THANK YOU.  Spectators displaying any unsportsmanlike conduct such as, but not limited to taunting, baiting, and profanity or carrying flags around the arena, will be removed”.

Program rights are awarded to the tournament manager who may sub-contract to other organizations. If sub-contracted, the tournament manager shall be responsible for approving the content of the program. Materials in the program should be primarily information relative to the tournament, the participating teams, tournament history, NDHSAA history, etc.  Tournament programs shall include information supplied by the NDHSAA office.  Program advertising shall be in good taste with NO ADS pertaining to gambling, alcohol, drugs or tobacco. Ads shall not take precedence over tournament or NDHSAA information.

The tournament manager keeps any profit realized from programs and is responsible for any deficit.

Concession rights are awarded to the host school or building management. Concession merchandise shall be limited to soft drinks, popcorn, candy, coffee, etc.  Enterprises tending to exploit students are prohibited. At State finals, the NDHSAA will provide T-shirts for sale. No other merchandise of this type is allowed.

If provided, hospitality rooms, intermission entertainment, cheerleader supervision and outside bands are the responsibility of the host city.

Region and state tournaments are protected by master liability, property damage, hold-up and burglary insurance. This policy does not cover damage to the premises.

9-Man (If like seed in First Round, Regions 1 and 6 are home teams in 2015)
Region 3 #1 Bye
Region 1#3 vs Region 2 #3
Region 1 #2 Bye
Region 3 #2 vs Region 2 #4
Region 2 #1 Bye
Region 3 #3 vs Region 1 #4
Region 1 #1 Bye
Region 2 #2 Region 3 #4

Region 5 #1 Bye
Region 4#3 vs Region 6 #3
Region 6 #2 Bye
Region 5 #2 vs Region 4 #4
Region 4 #1 Bye
Region 5 #3 vs Region 6 #4
Region 6 #1 Bye
Region 4 #2 Region 5 #4

A Divisions
Region 1 #1 Bye
Region 2 #2 Region 1 #3
Region 2 #1 Bye
Region 1#2 Region 2 #3
Region 3 #1 Bye
Region 4 #2 Region 3 #3
Region 4 #1 Bye
Region 3 #2 Region 4 #3

AA & AAA Divisions
East #1 West #4
West #2 East #3
West #1 East #4
East #2 West #3

Updated 4/15/15

Updated 06/05/2015