The fine line: Intentional yes, safety maybe? *Updated

by Paul Honda on November 13, 2012

UPDATE, Tuesday, 1:15 p.m. Just got word from a longtime referee, Randy Morris, president of the Big Island Football Officials Association.

“It’s not where your feet last touched the ground. It’s where the ball is released from,” said Morris, whose son, Domonic, is a wide receiver for Konawaena. “It was the right call.”

Not surprised here, but it’s good to get an understanding of the rule. Tough job. Tough call. Thank you, Randy.

Tuesday, 1 a.m. The experts on high school football rules can answer this one.

The Play: Nanakuli defenders harass Konawaena quarterback Kahoali‘i Karratti into an intentional grounding play. The question is, what determines a safety on this penalty? (video/photo courtesy of Sportz Viz)

Here’s the shot of Konawaena quarterback Kahoali‘i Karratti throwing the ball near the goal line late in the game against Nanakuli. The situation: Konawaena ball deep in its own territory with the score tied at 23-all in the opening round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II State Football Championships at Konawaena’s Julian Yates Field on Saturday.

Karratti was flagged for intentional grounding on this play. But the safety was called because he was determined to be in the end zone on the throw. My question: Is the location of the intentional grounding based on where the QB’s feet are or where the ball is?

If it’s the feet, clearly he jumped from the 1-yard line backwards as he threw. If it’s where the ball is, then the ball is clearly behind the goal line as he released it. Tough call either way. Sad that a state-tourney game came down to this, a bizarre play in the final 2 minutes. These two outstanding Division II teams deserved a chance to win outright in overtime, but rules are rules. Anybody know? I’ll be calling an official in the morning anyway.

Regardless of what the actual ruling should’ve been, the game’s over and this observation is moot. But I always enjoy an opportunity to learn more about this great sport.

Mahalo to Thane Milhoan and his Sportz Viz network for providing the video footage. You can see the game highlights here. This particular play took place at 1:01:45 on the video.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

samoa12 November 13, 2012 at 7:27 am

stop trying to make a case for kona! they had the biggest advantage over nanakuli which was the home field advantage, they should have won convincingly! they backpedaled when they should have went full force; as if it were their last game! nanakuli deserved the win because they worked for it and didn’t give up!

Paul Honda November 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm

I like both teams, so it’s not about making a case. I do want to know how the rulebook defines a safety on intentional grounding. I’ve contacted an official and hope to hear back from him soon.

It’s a difficult call to make when it’s this close. High school football officiating is TOUGH, whether it’s pass interference, holding, spearing … everything happens in a split second and there’s no benefit of replay. That’s why it’s important that we understand the rules before we assume anything. And right now, there are people questioning this call. I just want a simple answer.

Paul Honda November 13, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Got the answer. See the update above.

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