The boundaries of the playing field are marked with cones. Each cone represents a first down marker and the end lines of the field. The field will consist of five first down markers. There are 4 downs per series. If the offensive team cannot advance the ball past the next set of cones in their first 3 attempts, they have the option to play on fourth down or punt the ball.
COIN TOSS TO BEGIN THE GAME
● The opening coin toss decides which team wins the CHOICE to either defend or take possession of the ball on offense. The team that wins the toss must choose to (1) start with possession, (2) defend, or (3) DEFER the first half CHOICE (see DEFER RULE below) to the other team. The team that loses the coin toss (or the team that defers the choice) will be given the opportunity to choose which side of the field to defend at the start of the first half and will be given the right to choose to defend or take possession of the ball at the start of the second half.
● DEFER RULE: If a team wins the toss and chooses to DEFER the CHOICE to the other team, they will be given the opportunity to choose to receive or defend at the start of the second half.
START OF THE GAME:
The offensive team takes possession of the ball half-way between the 3rd and 4th cone from the end zone they are defending. Kickoffs will no longer be part of the MFL Tournament.
● Total playing time per game will be 40 minutes – 20 minutes per half with a running clock. Half-time will be 5 minutes. Game clock will only be stopped after a score, a time-out, or at the two-minute warning of the 2nd half, and dead balls following the 2 minute warning.
● There will be a 35 Second Play clock; clock starts when the spotter places the ball.
● In the case of overtime, there will be a 3-minute intermission prior to starting overtime.
● There is only a 2-minute warning during the 2nd half and the clock will only stop during the last two minutes of the 2nd half. There will be a 2 minute warning for both halves in the championship game.
● The game clock is stopped after every score. The game clock will resume after the start of the first play following the change of possession (no time will elapse during extra point conversions).
● Each team is allotted 3 timeouts, up to two (2) one-minute time-outs per half.
● Should darkness threaten the completion of a game, periods can be shortened through mutual consent of team captains, referees, and MFL tournament organizers.
OVERTIME: If the game is tied after regulation play, a coin toss will determine which team wins the right to choose to (1) take possession of the ball or (2) defend. Each team will have the chance to score in a series of four downs from the 1st and goal cone. If the team scores, they must attempt either a one-point or two-point conversion. If the score is still tied after each team has had a try, a second series is played, and so on until a winner is determined.
TEAM AND PLAYER ELIGIBILITY
To be eligible to play in the MFL tournament, a player must satisfy the following conditions:
- A player must be Malayalee
- A player must play for the Physical Chicagoland Malayalee church with which that player is most closely affiliated.
- A player must reside in or have significant Chicago roots
- A player must be dedicated to the building up of fellowship within his affiliated church
- A team may not modify its roster, add or remove athletes, after the registration deadline.
- If a player’s Physical Malayalee Church does not have representation in the MFL tournament, the player cannot play for any other team, we encourage players to take the initiative to build his own team to represent his church if one doesn’t exist.
- If a player had previously played for a team in the MFL tournament and would like to switch teams due to a change in personal church affiliation, the transition must first be approved by the MFL Board and will result in sitting out a minimum of one MFL season.
- We understand there maybe some gray area that is not covered in the listed requirements, please contact the board if there is any doubt to a players eligibility.
- If a player of a team is found to have violated an eligibility rule, his church/team will not be allowed to play in the next MFL tournament.
- The MFL’s goal in creating and enforcing these requirements is to create a fair playing field for all teams.
PRAIRIE FIRE RULE
● IN ORDER TO MAINTAIN FAIRNESS IN A RECREATIONAL TOURNAMENT, INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETES FROM ANY LEVEL (DIVISION I, II, III, ETC.) OR SPORT (FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, BASEBALL) WILL BE INELIGIBLE TO PLAY IN THIS TOURNAMENT (INTRAMURAL PLAYERS ARE EXCLUDED AND ARE ELIGIBLE TO PLAY)
- Each team should start the game with 7 players on the field; a minimum of 6 is needed to play (otherwise offending team will forfeit the game). The roster limit for this tournament is open. There must be only ONE offensive captain and ONE defensive captain that can protest calls (explained below).
- Only the captain of each team is allowed to “challenge” the referees. Any team members, other than the captain, that are consistent in “arguing” with the referees will be penalized/ejected at the referee’s discretion.
- Touchdowns = 6 points
- Extra points = 1 point if successful from 4 yards away
- Extra Points = 2 points if successful from 8 yards away
- Safety = 2 points
Ball must cross imaginary plane for a score to be valid *** (If one foot is in bounds, but the ball did not cross the plane, it is NOT a Touchdown). ***
*Defensive Team cannot score on an extra point conversion.
Once a team has made their choice on the extra point, they can only change their decision by taking a time-out. If no timeouts available, a team is unable to change their extra point decision.
4 Team Bracket Playoff Advancement Based On
- Head to Head
- Point Differential
5 Team Bracket Playoff Advancement Based On
- Head to Head
- If no Head to Head then Shoot Out via Overtime rules.
2. Points scored against (Average if teams play uneven no. of games).
A Safety occurs when
- An offensive player carries the ball across the goal line they are defending and is de-flagged while in possession of the ball.
- When the offensive team commits a holding penalty in the end zone where the spot of enforcement is designated as the spot of the foul.
- If the offensive team drops the ball in the endzone they are defending.
A team recording a safety will receive two points and will receive possession of the ball at the 4th cone from the endzone they are defending.
Exception: If a player intercepts a pass before crossing his own goal line, then enters the endzone due to his own momentum, the ball will belong to the receiving team at the spot of the catch or reception (Forward Progress).
PLAYER RULED “DOWN”
- When a flag is pulled from a runner in possession of the ball, the player is ruled “down”. When a runner loses his flag belt, either accidentally or inadvertently, play continues and the de-flagging reverts to a one-hand tag of the runner. A player is also ruled “down” once ONE knee (or back/butt hits the ground) or if the ball touches the ground. If a flag is pulled but only falls of further down field, ball is spotted at location it was first pulled
- A player is not considered “down” unless the flag (or 1-hand touch is done) is pulled when the player has possession of the ball
- Players must have possession of the ball before they can legally be de-flagged. It is illegal for a defensive player to intentionally pull a flag from an offensive player who is not in possession of the ball. The result is a 5-yard penalty.
THE FLAG BELT (Triple Threat Flag Belts © are provided)
- ALL T-SHIRTS/JERSEYS THAT FALL BELOW THE WAIST MUST BE TUCKED IN DURING TOURNAMENT PLAY! This is so that shirts will not be an obstruction to pulling a player’s flag. If your shirt is not tucked in before the start a play, you may be reminded by referees; however, if a player’s shirt prevents him from being de-flagged during a play, a 5-yard penalty will be assessed from the spot of the obstruction.
- If during a play, the shirt of an offensive player is inadvertently pulled out and obstructs the ability of the defense to pull a flag, the play will revert to a legal one- hand tag. A one-hand tag must be placed on the offensive player by the defense between the shoulders and knees, including the hand and arm for the offensive player to be ruled down.
- Should a player who has lost their flag belt (either legally or illegally) during a down gain possession of a live ball, that player will be considered down only when a legal one-hand tag is made.
- When a player scores, he must immediately raise his hands and allow an official to remove his flag belt. This is done to assure that the flag belt has not been illegally secured. If the belt has been illegally secured the score is disallowed, the player is ejected from the game (possibly the tournament), and a 10-yard penalty is assessed from the original line of scrimmage.
- NO METAL OR SCREW-IN CLEATS ARE PERMITTED! If you bring metal/screw-in cleats to the tournament you will not be allowed to play with them on. However, molded cleats are allowed and recommended.
- Any slippery or sticky substance of a foreign nature on equipment or exposed parts of the body is illegal.
- No device (protective of otherwise) that may cause injury is permitted.
- Tournament shirts displaying liquor or drug related references are not permitted.
- Tournament shirts must have numbers on the back and be the approved team color.
When the whistle blows while the ball is live, the offended team has the option of taking the ball at the spot where the whistle blew or taking the play over. (Rule does not apply when the offensive team fumbles the ball)
The ball is declared DEAD when the ball touches the ground…
- On a fumble
- On a lateral/backwards pass
- On a pass
- When the ball hits a player and falls to the ground on all plays even a punt
- Once the ball touches the ground it is considered dead and may NOT be recovered or advanced by either team. If the ball is caught and clearly controlled before it is fumbled, the ball is dead at the spot of the fumble.
- A ball fumbled FORWARD will be put into play at the point it was fumbled.
- All fumbled balls remain with the team with possession (except on fourth downs in which the first down line was not reached).
- Either team may advance a fumble that is caught in the air before reaching the ground. An incomplete lateral is treated as a fumble and is whistled dead at the spot where it touches the ground. A backwards pass is considered a lateral and is also dead at the spot where it touches the ground.
A team may lateral passes backward an unlimited number of times as long as the pass is thrown behind the possessing player. A player may throw a forward pass after a lateral pass, handoff, or backwards pass as long as the lateral was made behind the player that last had possession of the ball. Only one forward pass may be made per play.
- In order for a catch to be deemed legal, the receiver must catch the ball without ANY part of the ball touching the ground. A receiver must be able to make the catch without the aid of the ground (trapping the ball). This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players.
- If a receiver hits the ground and loses possession of the ball before having clear possession of it, the pass is ruled incomplete.
- If a player is in the air attempting to catch a ball, he must land with at least one foot in-bounds with clear possession of the ball before going out of bounds.
- If a player is forced/pushed out of bounds by a defender before getting one foot down, a referee must determine whether or not it was a legal catch. This rule applies to both offensive and defensive players.
- If a receiver goes out of bounds on his own volition, he is deemed ineligible to receive a pass. If a player is forced out of bounds by a defensive player, he is eligible to return to the field of play to receive a pass.
If field lines are NOT pointed, please note that first downs and endzone goal lines are IMAGINARY LINES marked by two cones across the width of the field, not ONE specific cone on either sideline. Each cone represents one end of a 1st down line. A player may stretch forward for forward progress of the ball. The ball is spotted based on the forward progress of the ball once the flag is pulled (not where the flag was pulled).
OUT OF BOUNDS
The inner part of the cone marks the out of bounds. That will be explained before the tournament.
When a ball is punted into the endzone and downed, the receiving team takes possession of the ball between the 3rd and 4th cone from the endzone the team is defending.
Note: Passes intercepted and downed in the endzone will also be placed between the 3rd and 4th cone from the endzone the team is defending.
- Entire offense is eligible (including lineman)
- The offensive team must have a minimum of 3 offensive linemen on the line of scrimmage at the center of the field, lined up at or behind the line of scrimmage. They cannot be spread far apart (all 3 players must be within “1 yard” from one another. If this is not done, an illegal formation penalty will be assessed (5 yards). Additional lineman can be used (such as a tight end) as well.
- The offensive center must snap the ball between his legs, unless the team is punting the ball.
- NOTE: The “Center-Sneak” play will not be allowed in the tournament.
Offensive or defensive players may use their hands to block an opponent, but cannot place their hands above the neck, below the waist of their opponent, or put their hands in the armpits of the opposing player. Lowering the shoulder is not an acceptable means of blocking on the line or down field.
- OFFENSIVE HOLDING is 5 “yards” from spot of foul and replay down
- Once the center has placed his hands on the ball, a member of the offensive team must call ‘set’ before the start of a valid offensive play.
- The quarterback may call “motion” after “set” is called. This would allow no more than ONE offensive player to move positions at one time. This player would be allowed to freely move horizontally through the snap of the ball; however, this player would only be allowed to move vertically toward the line of scrimmage if he comes to a stop and re-sets at or behind the line of scrimmage before the snap. The quarterback would have to audibly call “motion” to allow a player to move. Any player on the offensive team that moves after “set” is called (except players in motion) will be penalized for a false start (5 yards).
- Also, ALL OFFENSIVE PLAYERS, must line up at or behind the line of scrimmage, or the resulting call will be an illegal formation penalty and a loss of 5 “yards”.
Defense is allowed to play any type of coverage; but must have a minimum of 2 players on the defensive line of scrimmage (Defensive Linemen) in a 3-point stance.
The defensive team is required to have a minimum of 2 defensive linemen at the line of scrimmage in a 3-point stance (2 legs on the ground and one hand touching the ground). An illegal formation penalty will be assessed if defensive team fails to accomplish this.
- DEFENSIVE HOLDING is 5 “yards” from spot of the foul and AUTOMATIC FIRST DOWN for the offensive team.
- Defensive players CANNOT fake towards the quarterback or enter the neutral zone to draw a false start. A defensive player can move side to side, but NOT forward. Resulting penalty is offside – 5 “yards”.
- A punt must be kicked, it cannot be thrown.
- Center may hand ball to punter
- Quick punts are illegal. On fourth down the Referee must ask the Offensive team if they want a protected scrimmage punt. Once the offense has declared their choice, the Referee will inform the Defense of the offense’s choice. The only way the offense can change their decision is to call a time-out or after a foul occurs anytime prior to or during the down, resulting in the down having to be re- played. In the later case the Offensive team will be asked if they want a protected scrimmage punt or not.
- The kicking team must have all of its players, except for the punter, on the line of scrimmage. Players on the kicking team may not move until the ball is kicked.
- At least two defensive players must be lined up on the defensive line, in any stance during a punt. Defensive players MAY attempt to block the punt by jumping straight up in the air (not side to side) but they cannot rush the punter. If the punt is blocked, the ball cannot be advanced unless it is caught in the air – if the ball touches the ground it is dead where it lands and the receiving team takes possession at that spot. The kicking team cannot advance a blocked punt under any circumstances.
- If the ball is caught (and clearly controlled) by the receiving team and is fumbled on the ensuing return, the ball is dead where it touches the ground.
- If the ball is not touched by the receiving team, the punting team may “down” the punt wherever they first touch the ball. The ball is NOT live if the receiving team does not touch the ball.
- If a punt reaches the endzone while in bounds, it will be ruled a touchback.
- If the ball is dropped by the punter or if there is a poor exchange between the punter and center causing the ball to fall to the ground – the ball is dead and the receiving team takes possession of the ball at the spot of the dead ball.
- Down field blocking is not allowed on punts
-ALL PENALTIES CAN BE DECLINED IF DEEMED THE BETTER OPTION BY THE OFFENDED TEAM.
-PENALTIES CANNOT BE COMMITTED INTENTIONALLY TO ASSIST THE OFFENDING PLAYER’S TEAM. (Example: Intentional Offside penalty to create a longer first down). THIS ACTION WILL RESULT IN AN UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT PENALTY.
-IF TWO PENALTIES OCCUR ON THE SAME PLAY (AGAINST THE SAME TEAM), THE OFFENDED TEAM HAS THE OPTION TO CHOOSE WHICH PENALTY THEY WOULD LIKE TO HAVE ENFORCED, BUT ONLY ONE CAN BE ACCEPTED ON A SINGLE PLAY.
-IF TWO PENALTIES OCCUR ON THE SAME PLAY (ONE AGAINST EACH TEAM), THE PENALTIES OFFSET AND THE DOWN IS RE-PLAYED, NO MATTER THE SEVERITY OF THE PENALTIES.
DELAY OF GAME: Offensive plays must be run before the 35 second play clock runs down. Penalty is 5 “yards” from the line of scrimmage and replay of down.
FLAG GUARDING: 5 “yard” penalty from spot of the foul. (Result of the play before the foul will stand; If 1st down is gained before the penalty, the offensive team is awarded the first down before the penalty is assessed). Runners shall not flag guard by using their hands, arms, or the ball to deny the opportunity for an opponent to pull or remove the flag belt. Flag guarding includes:
- Swinging the hand or arm over the flag belt to prevent an opponent from de- flagging
- Placing the ball over the flag belt to prevent an opponent from de-flagging
- Lowering the shoulders in a manner that flag guards.
STIFF ARM is 5 “yards” from spot of foul. (Similar to flag guarding – Result of the play before the foul will stand – If 1st down is gained before the penalty, the offensive team is awarded the first down before the penalty is assessed).
OFFENSIVE HOLDING is grabbing of shirts, tackling, hands put in the armpits of the defensive player and overly rough play will be considered penalties. A holding penalty will result in a loss of 5 “yards” from the spot of the foul (or the line of scrimmage if foul occurs downfield) for the offense and a replay of down.
DEFENSIVE HOLDING is grabbing of shirts, tackling, hands put in the armpits of the offensive player, and overly rough play will be considered penalties. Defensive Holding is a 5-YARD PENALTY from the spot of the foul (or the line of scrimmage if foul occurs downfield) with an AUTOMATIC FIRST DOWN for the offensive team.
STRIPPING OF POSSESSION
A player MAY NOT Punch, strike, strip, steal, or attempt to steal the ball from a player in possession of the ball. The resulting penalty will be 5 “yards” from the spot of the foul (or from line of scrimmage if penalty occurs behind line of scrimmage) and a replay of down.
1.Defensive players will not be allowed to strip/swipe at the ball while the quarterback is in possession or while in throwing motion. A player is allowed to block a pass by jumping and deflecting it when thrown, but is not allowed to strip the quarterback of possession, or hit the quarterback’s hand while he is attempting to throw. (5-yard penalty from line of scrimmage/replay down)
OBSTRUCTING THE RUNNER
A defensive player shall not hold or grasp a player to obstruct the forward progress of the runner when attempting to remove the flag belt. This will result in a 5-yard penalty being added to the end of the run.
DEFENSIVE PASS INTERFERENCE
Pass Interference occurs when an eligible receiver is de-flagged or physically interfered with prior to touching the ball on a pass thrown beyond the 5-yard contact area. Interference results in an AUTOMATIC 1ST DOWN AT THE SPOT OF THE FOUL or 5 “yards” (whichever is greater).
OFFENSIVE PASS INTERFERENCE
This penalty is similar to defensive pass interference. Penalty results in a 5 “yard” loss from the line of scrimmage for the offense and a replay of down.
- Defensive players are not allowed contact with receivers beyond the 5 “yard” contact area. The resulting ILLEGAL CONTACT penalty is 5 “yards” from the line of scrimmage and a replay of down.
- Defensive players CAN make contact with the offensive player within 5 “yards”, but cannot hold or obstruct the receiver’s path.
- Wide Receivers MAY NOT initiate contact with defensive players in order to gain an advantage. A receiver may ONLY use his hands to deflect contact from a defensive player.
- Also, a wide receiver IS ALLOWED to screen another receiver without making contact with a defensive player. (example: screen pass)
- Wide receiver picks CANNOT block (set a PICK) by making contact with a defensive player before another receiver catches the ball.
TOO MANY MEN ON THE FIELD
Penalty occurs when a team has more than 7 players on the field at once. Resulting penalty is 5 “yards” from line of scrimmage & replay of down.
ILLEGAL FORWARD PASS
More than ONE forward pass results in a penalty of 5 “yards” from line of scrimmage and a LOSS OF DOWN.
CLIPPING/BLOCK IN THE BACK
An offensive player MAY NOT push a defensive player in the back to maintain a block, most commonly on punts. The resulting penalty is 5 “yards” from spot of foul & a replay of down. **BLOCKS EXECUTED TO A DEFENSIVE PLAYER’S SHOULDER ARE LEGAL**
NOTE: IF A PLAYER ATTEMPTS A LEGAL BLOCK WHICH INADVERTANTLY BECOMES A BLOCK IN THE BACK DUE TO A DEFENSIVE PLAYER’S MOVEMENT (SUCH AS A SPIN MOVE), IT WILL NOT BE RULED A PENALTY.
If the quarterback intentionally throws the ball away with no receiver in the vicinity of the throw before leaving the pocket, an INTENTIONAL GROUNDING is called. The resulting penalty is 5 “yards” and loss of down.
ILLEGAL PASS FROM BEYOND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE
5 “yard” penalty and loss of down if quarterback throws a pass after crossing the line of scrimmage.
A Pass/Lateral made forward illegally is a 5 “yard” penalty from the spot of foul.
***PERSONAL FOULS listed on the Quick Reference Penalty Sheet below***
Revisions from Previous Rulebook:
1) Muffed Punts are no longer live
2) Center does not have to snap between legs during punts
QUICK REFERENCE – PENALTY SHEET
10) Delay of Game: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
20) Illegal Formation: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
30) False Start: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
40)Clipping/Block in the Back: 5 “yards” from the Spot of the Foul (Line of Scrimmage if penalty occurs downfield) & Replay Down
50) Offensive Holding: 5 “yards” from the Spot of the Foul (Line of Scrimmage if penalty occurs downfield) & Replay Down
60) Offensive Pass Interference: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
70) Illegal Contact (Offensive): 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
80) Illegal Forward Pass/Illegal Pass Beyond the Line of Scrimmage: 5 “yards”/LOSS OF DOWN
90) Intentional Grounding: 5 “yards” & LOSS OF DOWN
100) Stiff Arm/Flag Guarding: 5 “yards” from Spot of the Foul (Result of play before the foul will stand – If 1st down is gained before the penalty, the offensive team is awarded the first down before penalty is assessed)
110) Offside/Encroachment/Fake Forward: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
120) Defensive Holding: 5 “yards” from the Spot of the Foul (Line of Scrimmage if penalty occurs downfield) & Automatic 1st Down for Offensive Team
130) Illegal Formation – Defense (3-point stance): 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down -Defensive Pass Interference: AUTOMATIC 1st Down at the Spot of the Foul
140) Illegal Contact (Defensive): 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
150) Obstructing the Runner: 5 “yards” added to the end of the run
160) Stripping the Ball: 5 “yards” added to the end of the run
180) Stripping the QB: 5 “yards” from Line of Scrimmage & Replay of Down
190) Too Many Men on the Field: 5 “yards” from line of scrimmage & Replay Down
-ALL penalties listed below will result in either a LOSS OF DOWN (Offensive Penalty) or 1ST DOWN FOR THE OFFENSE (Defensive Penalty) IN ADDITION TO LOSS OF YARDAGE (10 “yards”).
210) Tackling the runner or pushing runner of bounds
220) Throwing the runner to the ground
230) Roughing the passer
240) Tripping an opponent
350) Excessive contact with an opponent who is on the ground
360) Making any contact with an opponent which is deemed unnecessary/rough
370) Deliberately driving or running into a defensive player
380) Any form of cheating, such as illegal equipment, flag concealment, etc.
390) FIGHTING – FIGHTING WILL RESULT IN AN AUTOMATIC EJECTION FROM THE ENTIRE TOURNAMENT FOR THE OFFENDING PLAYER(S) AND POTENTIALLY ENTIRE TEAM IF DEEMED APPROPRIATE BY THE REFEREES And/or THE MFL BOARD.
PENALTIES MAY BE GREATER IF VIEWED AS UNSPORTSMANLIKE OR DONE WITH INTENT TO HARM/INJURE. SUCH ACTIONS MAY RESULT IN EJECTION of PLAYER AND OR TEAM OR ADDITIONAL YARDAGE BEING ASSESSED TO THE PENALTY.