Kimball (Tracy, Calif.) quarterback Zack Johnson made a play earlier this month that was even more impressive than the staged flip in AT&T's ubiquitous Hello! commercial. Johnson's acrobatics didn't earn him a meeting with Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, though. All he got was a lousy penalty flag.
That's right, hurdling a defender as Jackson does in the video above, is an unsportsmanlike act and carries a 15-yard penalty according to National Federation of State High School Associations Rule 9-4-3d.
From the NFHS rulebook:
"Hurdling is an attempt by a player to jump (hurdle) with one or both feet or knees foremost over an opponent who is contacting the ground with no part of his body except one or both feet."
Perhaps not surprisingly, the rule is a point of contention. While there have been cries to eliminate the penalty, the NFHS reaffirmed the rule and made it a point of emphasis this season. Here's the NFHS's explanation for keeping the rule:
"Recently, national and local media have identified some of these plays at the collegiate and professional levels as 'spectacular feats' and glorified the individual’s athletic ability instead of pointing out the heightened potential for harm. Little regard has been given to the fact that attempting to 'hurdle' a defender increases the risk of injury to both the hurdler and tackler! The NFHS SMAC requested that this rule not be changed and backed up its request by showing several incidences where players were severely injured while attempting this act! The NFHS Football Rules Committee concurred with the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and did not change the hurdling rule. In addition, to focus on the dangers associated with hurdling, it has been included as a Point of Emphasis for the 2012 season."
(Thanks to MaxPreps for the heads up.)