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4th Grade Tackle Rules




Rules and Regulations  


Section 1 – Game Scoring  

1.1 Touchdowns. A touchdown counts as 6 points.  

1.2 Extra Points. Extra Points and scoring: Following a touchdown, the coach will have the choice to go for 1 point or 2 points. (The coach will tell the referee his choice.) 1-point conversions will be from the 3-yard line. 2-point conversions will be from the 8-yard line. Once the choice is declared and a play is run or a penalty occurs prior to the play, the choice cannot be changed.  

1.3 Safeties. A safety counts as 2 points.  

Section 2 – Game Length  

2.1 Game Length. Games are sixty (60) minutes long.  

2.2 Quarter Length. The game is divided into four (4) fifteen (15) minute quarters. running time  

2.3 Halftime. There is a five (5) minute halftime break.  

2.4 Stop Time. There is no clock stoppage except with time-outs (each team is issued 2 timeouts per half; each time out is 1 minute in duration) and when the clock gets inside of two (2) minutes remaining in the half and the end of the game (real MSHSL football timing rules are in effect inside of 2 minutes). 

2.5 Between Plays. Time between plays is thirty-five (35) seconds. Each team must be taught to huddle quickly after each play. A 5-yard penalty will be assessed for violations in accordance with MN State High School Rules. 

2.6 Time Outs. Each team can call two (2) Time Outs per half. Teams cannot carry over unused Time Outs from the 1st half to the 2nd half.  



Section 3 – Overtime 

3.1 – If/what time allows. OT cannot affect the start time of the next game scheduled. Only 2 sets of OT allowed (each offense gets a maximum of 2 possessions in OT). 

3.2 - Coin toss. A coin toss will decide who gets the ball first. 

3.3 – Format. 4 downs from the 10-yard line, each team gets the opportunity to match scores.  

Section 4 – Field Size  

4.1 Field Dimensions. The length of the field will be 100 yards where available. The field width may vary between 40 and 50 yards and length may vary from 80 – 100 yds. The width of the field shall be played along the marked sidelines. 

4.2 End Zones. The end zones shall be ten yards deep and the width of the playing field.  

4.3 Field Markings. Midfield, the two goal lines, the two back of the end zones and the two 20-yard lines shall be marked with cones at minimum (14 total – 7 on each side). If numbered markers are available, they should be used, home teams are responsible for marking fields and making sure that the field is ready for play at the designated start time. The home team is also responsible for chain and down marker equipment and operating this equipment. 

Section 5 – Players on the field 

5.1 Equality. The offensive and defensive teams must have an equal number of players on the field.  

5.2 Maximum Players. The maximum number of players allowed on the field on the offensive or defensive teams is eleven (11).  

5.3 Minimum Players. The minimum number of players per team is nine (9). If there is a need to play with less than 11 players, the opposing team will match the team with the shortage.  

5.4 Forfeit. If a team cannot field nine players, the team must forfeit the game.  

5.5 Reschedule. If both teams cannot field nine players each, the game can be rescheduled. Whether the game is rescheduled or not is a decision made by the Level Director(s) with feedback from All Associations. The game can also be canceled by inclement weather, any and all associations involved with the canceled games will put in full effort to reschedule another game that is workable for each team. Games that reach halftime and considered full games and will not be rescheduled. 

5.6 Blood Policy – If a player is bleeding, they are not allowed to play in the game until their bleeding has stopped. The team involved with the bleeding player can make every effort to contain the cut/ injury and get the player back into the game as soon as possible after the injury/ cut. 








Section 6 – Running Weight Limitations  

6.1 Players’ Weights. All players are to be weighed at Equipment Pickup, evaluations or during the first week of practice. This weight, using association scales only, will be the official playing weight of the player for the remainder of the season. A player MUST have a recorded weight with their association. 

6.2. No player weighing more than 95 lbs. is eligible for an Offensive Backfield Position. No play may be designed to allow a player weighing over 95 lbs. to purposely carry the ball. In the event a player weighing over 95 lbs. intercepts a pass, that player may advance the ball. Offensive Ends may weigh more than 95 lbs. and they may catch and advance the ball.  

6.3 A line captain is NOT allowed to be lined up in the offensive backfield (RB, WB) or be used as a blocking back.  

6.4 A line captain must have a clear designated stripe marking on their helmet 

Section 7 – Non Players on the Field  

7.1 One coach from each team on the playing field during games.  

Section 8 – Rules of the Game  

8.1 Coin Toss. Before each game, the referees will flip a coin. The winner of the coin toss can choose to kickoff or receive during the first half or defer to the second half.  

8.2 Direction of Play. The kicking team chooses which end zone that it will be defending during the half.  

8.3 Punting. There will not be traditional punts. On any down, the offense has the option of declaring to “punt”. If the offense chooses to “punt” the ball, the ball will be moved thirty yards. If this would result in the ball being placed inside the 30 yard line, the distance of the “punt” will change from 30 yards to half the distance to the goal line. 

8.5 Kickoffs. There will not be traditional kickoffs. At the beginning of each half of game play, the ball will be placed on the offense’s 20-yard line. Offensive play will begin from that point. After any score (including safeties), the ball will be placed on the offense’s 20-yard line and offensive play will begin from that point.  

8.8 Fumbles. Fumbles are LIVE BALLS. The ball can be advanced by the offensive player who fumbled the ball or the defensive team. The quarterback, running back or end can advance their own fumble. If anyone else on the offensive team recovers the ball, the ball is spotted at the spot of the Recovery. Offensive teams cannot purposely fumble the ball forward (especially into the end zone) to advance the football. There is one exception to the fumble rule, each quarterback is allowed one fumbled center exchange (muffed snap) with no loss of down or loss of possession per offensive possession.  

8.9 Interceptions. Interceptions are LIVE BALLS and may be advanced by the defender. If the defender has clear possession of the ball and in the act of returning the interception they fumble the ball the rules for FUMBLES apply. i.e. on the interception return the defender fumbles the ball, it will be the defender’s ball of the spot of the fumble.  

8.10 Laterals. Laterals are allowed. 




Section 9 – Offensive Sets and Plays  

9.1 Line Splits. Line splits among interior linemen will be no wider than two yards apart. Failure to follow this, after referee warning, can result in a 5-yard penalty, but not a loss of down.  

9.2 Linemen Set Position. All linemen must be in a three point stance.  

9.3 Players must be “Set”. All players must be “Set” at least one second before the ball is snapped into play. 

9.4 Exchange. There can be plays that are designed to have the ball exchange hands more than one time. This includes double pass plays.  

9.5 Blocking Below the Waist. Blocking below the waist is not allowed more than 2 yards in front of or behind the LOS and outside of the Offensive Ends.  

9.6 NO Crack Back Blocking. Crack back blocking is defined as a block executed by an offensive player, from a set position, when they travel more than two yards and hit a defensive player from a blind (backside) position. An open field block executed from an offensive player on a defensive player above the waist and on the front or side of a player is not a “CRACK BACK” block.  

9.7 Blocking. Offensive linemen may pull, cross-block and double team as deemed by the association’s playbook (if it can be taught, it can be used). 

9.8 QB SneaksBecause of the defensive alignment rules (no nose guard on center and defensive guards must be head’s up on offensive guards), there are NO A gap QB sneaks. If a QB is going to keep on the ball on any play, they must run at least outside of their offensive guards (at least B-gap). 

Section 10 – Defensive Sets and Plays  

10.1 Blitzing. There is NO blitzing by linebackers or defensive backs. Blitzing is defined as: The blind charging of a linebacker or defensive back through the offensive line without reading the offensive play. This would include instructing linebackers and defensive backs to run to the line of scrimmage when the ball is snapped. When the offensive runner commits to an outside run/pass by going outside the offensive tackle positions, the linebacker or defensive back may then commit to intercept the offensive ball carrier at or behind the line of scrimmage. There should be no tackles behind the line of scrimmage between the offensive tackles by anyone other than defensive linemen. Tackles for loss can occur outside the offensive ends and is not considered blitzing.  

No player is allowed to play anywhere near the offensive center in anything that resembles a traditional nose guard position.  The defensive line must play a 4-man or 6-man front and leave the offensive center alone. 

10.2 Blitzing Rule. Blitzing is also defined as when a linebacker or defensive back tackles a quarterback or running back behind the line of scrimmage between the offensive tackles. Assuming the QB/RB did not double back to the “Safe” area. This includes pass and running plays. If the ball carrier does double back, all blitzing rules are voided. 

10.3 Blitzing Penalty: If the defender is to be called for blitzing the result will be a 10-yard penalty. 

10.4 Above the Shoulder Tackling. Above the shoulder tackling should always be discouraged and will result in a penalty if judged excessively violent or frequent by the referee. The penalty shall be treated as an “Unnecessary Roughness Penalty”.  

10.5 Ball Stripping. Ball stripping is allowed. 

10.6 Defensive Movement - Once the QB starts their cadence defensive linemen are NOT allowed to shift around into other defensive linemen positions (i.e. right before the snap of the ball a defensive lineman cannot shift from being head up to lining up in the gap).  

Section 11 – Defense 

11.1 Defensive Line Alignment. Any defensive lineman must be “head’s up” on the offensive lineman. Shading to one side is allowed. No gap alignment is allowed. Defensive linemen must not line up in the neutral zone and no one can line up on the center (no NT).  Play a 4-man or 6-man front. 

11.1.1 No defensive player may be lined up over the center in A gap – must be lined head up on the offensive guards or wider and engage the guard before playing the A gap. No shooting the A gap or attacking the center. 

11.1.2 Conversely, if the defense is not allowed to shoot the A gaps, the quarterback can not run behind the center or in the A gaps. Running backs are allowed to run to the areas after a handoff has taken place. 

11.2 Inside Linebackers. Inside Linebackers may line up anywhere between the offensive ends, at least 2 yards off the line of scrimmage and LB cannot blitz across the LOS between the offensive tackles.  

11.3 Outside Linebackers. Outside Linebackers line up either straight up to the offensive ends or up to 3 yards wide of the offensive ends and at least 2 yards off the line of scrimmage. The outside linebackers cannot blitz.  

11.4 Safeties. Safeties line up at least 8 yards off the line of scrimmage. Safety positions may be played as “free” and “strong” if desired. The safety cannot cross the LOS until the ball is outside the offensive ends. Safeties cannot blitz.  There must be two safeties on the field each play except when the defensive team is inside their own ten-yard line. 

Section 12 – 6-5 Goal Line Defense is Permitted at All Levels  

12.1 Goal Line Defense. A 6-5 defense can ONLY be used when the defensive team is inside their ten-yard line. Rule 11.1 still applies. If there isn’t an Offensive lineman to line up across from, they can line up outside of the widest offensive lineman. 

Section 13 – Penalties 


Failure to wear mouthguard 






Any line of scrimmage violation 






> 11 players on field 






LB's or DB's forward movement before snap 






Delay of Game (35) 






* Exception of first 2 games 






* Referee can ask coach to use timeout 






Illegal formation 






Weight restriction violation 






Illegal block 






Illegal use of hands 


















Off & Def pass Interference 












Horse Collar 






Unnecessary Roughness 






Use of un-allocated timeout 












Unsportsmanlike conduct (coach, player, parent) 






* Player to sit remainder of series 1st violation 






* Ejection at referee discretion 






* Coach or parent 2nd violation leave game 






18 pt slaughter rule – winning team rotates players to create competitive environment  







Targeting or hitting defenseless player 




Disqualification + 1 game 


Unsportsmanlike conduct: 1st foul 




15 yards + sit remainder series 


Unsportsmanlike conduct: 2nd foul 




Ejected + 1 game 


Fighting or hitting 






Discipline - If a player is “tossed” they are out for the rest of that game and the next.