In case you missed it in today’s paper, here is my preview for Westchester/Putnam, which includes a story on how Fox Lane is preparing to enter the season with a target on its back.
And here is my preview for Rockland, which includes a story on how North Rockland’s all-American senior Taylor Moore has used an offseason injury as motivation.
One of the issues that I addressed as a question for the season was the new rule changes. I had the chance to speak with president of the officials association, John Trotta. Several coaches had expressed concerns regarding new rules which have been implemented in order to make the game safer. I touched on these changes briefly in my preview, but I wanted to take the opportunity to elaborate.
The biggest difference from last season is going to be when it comes to yellow and red cards. Whereas in the past two yellow cards resulted in an ejection from the game, the penalty now includes a suspension for the next game as well. One red card previously resulted in an ejection and a one-game suspension, but the penalty has been increased to a two-game suspension.
In the event that a player receives one of these suspensions, particularly during the playoff time, the affect on the team could be monumental. This has many coaches nervous about how these rule changes may play out as the season wears on.
I asked Trotta about whether the referees will be more cautious with the cards based on the rule changes. Here is his response:
“The direction we received from the national interpreter are that officials should issue cards regardless of the situation or how many they already have.
“I did tell all of the the refs, ‘When you call a card, you make sure you have what you have. If you’re not sure, you can’t call it.’ That’s always been the philosophy, but it’s more important now.”
Another change when it comes to cards is how a team will be penalized for collecting three or more in a game. In the past, a team would only have to play shorthanded for three minutes for each card issued from the third on. But now, once a team gets a third card in a game, they will be forced to play the remainder of the contest one man down. If a fourth card is issued, they will play short two players. And so on, and so forth. With each card that is issued after the third, team’s will continue to lose players.
From the sound of it, it seems that refs will not hesitate to issue a card when a player is deserving, but they are aware that these cards now carry more severe penalties. The bottom line is, get it right. And it seems as though this is something that Trotta has stressed.
Another area where there has also been more emphasis in the offseason is checking. Trotta told me that there has been no rule changes, but more of a concerted effort to ensure that checks are safe. The main concerns are checks to the head and cross checking.
“There can be some cross to body contact, as long as it doesn’t impede them, but any type of severe contact is illegal,” Trotta said. “You have to be in control.”
As I stated in my previews, coaches will undoubtedly be stressing these changes to their players, and the result will likely be more hesitation on defense. What has always been a relatively high scoring game (in comparison to the boys game), should be even more offensive in 2011.
Make sure to check out my Preseason Power Rankings.
Also, place your vote in our new poll question: Who will win the Class A section title? (We’ll get to Class B and Class C in the coming weeks.)
I’ll be back later with Opening Day results…