The Hillsborough, NJ Jr Raiders offers organized youth activities in tackle football, flag football, cheerleading, track & field and girls lacrosse and field hockey.

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Printable copy of Division 3 Rules

Division 3

This is when players start the full experience of tackle football. We have incorporated the rules that the JR Skylands Conference follows with some modifications to help the players advance. While we are an in town recreation style program we expect players, coaches and family to play right, play fair and to represent the organization as they would represent their own family.

RULES Table of Contents :



All referees must be a NJ state certified official or in the cadet program. There will be a minimum of two officials for each game. The game clock and play clock will be kept on the field by the officials.
If less than 2 officials are present for a single game it will be the sole decision of the directors of the league as to whether or not to continue or who will officiate in the absence of an officiating crew. The following will be followed:
  • If one certified official is available that person will be the lead official and can be supplemented by a league director or current HFL coach in any division.
  • If no certified official is present, the directors may allow play if the game can be run by 2 current HFL coaches, directors or if the playing teams agree, one coach from each team may be used however they will not be allowed to coach their team on the field. If the teams cannot agree to the later, the game will not be played nor made up at any other time.
Penalties will be enforced in the following manner:
Initial warnings are allowed on false starts and alignment issues and the current play stands. This rule can be changed by an official for a specific play if the infraction is blatant and in the official’s opinion affects the outcome of a play or is a safety risk. For example, a sweep away with backside holding will never be enforced; however, on a sweep where the play side cornerback, who is in position to make the play, is tackled, held or clipped by the offensive the penalty should be enforced.
After completion of the play, coaches should instruct the players of the infraction and instruct him in the proper technique to be employed in the future.
Penalty Assessment – Junior Skylands – NJ State Rulebook can overrule below.
  • Delay of Game: 5 yards
  • Face Masking: 5 (unintentional)
  • Illegal Formation (Offensive or Defense) 5 yards
  • Illegal Use of Hands or Feet: 10 yards
  • Face Masking: 15 (intentional) yards automatic first down/loss of down
  • Illegal Block: 15 yards (from the spot)
  • Clipping: 15 yards (from the spot)
  • Personal Foul: 15 yards automatic first down/loss of down
  • Spearing: 15 yards automatic first down/ loss of down
  • Unnecessary Roughness: 15 yards automatic first down/loss of down
  • Un-sportsman Like: 15 yards automatic first down/loss of down. Second ejection, if a player or coach gets more than 2 in a year they are suspended from the league at the discretion of the board of directors
Offensive Penalties:
  • OffSides: 5 yards (Offensive line up or cross of scrimmage)
  • False Start: 5 yards
  • Illegal Motion: 5 yards
  • Illegal Procedure: 5 yards
  • Passing over line of scrimmage: 5 yards and loss of down
  • Holding Offense: 10 yards (from line of scrimmage during a play, from spot on any type of runback or downfield holding during a long run).
  • OffensivePassInterference: 10 yards from line of scrimmage.
  • Ineligible receiver downfield during pass: 10 yards
Defensive Penalties:
  • Defensive Off Sides: 5 yards
  • DefensivePassInterference: 15 yard penalty from LOS not an automatic first down.
  • Defensive Holding: 5 yards (an eligible receiver is held from going down field for a pass)
There will be Zero Tolerance for Spearing or any Head to Head Contact. Any contact above the shoulder including the use of the head, forearm, fist or physical motion to cause injury will be an automatic personal foul. This goes for offense and defense regardless of play.

There will be No Coaches allowed on the field during league play. Coaches should send plays in with another player or can meet halfway to relay the play to the QB. Coaches should never be on the field of play during an active play.

All HFL in town games will consist of (4) 20-minute running quarters with a 10-minute half time (end of cheer routine). The 2nd and 4th quarters will have a 4 minute warning and be run to JR Skylands timing regulations.The clock can only be stopped via a time out (see Time-Outs). The game time can also be addressed by league directors or the officials based on a current situation (weather, injury or administrative) Minor injuries do not stop the clock.  A two minute water break may be issued by officials when conditions warrant.

  • Each game shall begin with a coin toss.
  • The coin toss takes place prior to the start of the game at midfield
  • During the coin toss, the Head Referee will identify himself to all the Head Coaches along with Referee responsibilities on the field.
  • Which Referee is keeping the running clock.
  • Which Referee is keeping the between playtime.
  • Which Referee is in charge of the down and distance marker.
  • Which Referee is charge of spotting the ball.
  • The away team calls the coin flip.
  • The winner of the coin flip has the right to defer to the second half.
  • The winner of the toss has the following options for the first or second half:
    Which team kicks off or which goal line to defend
  • The loser of the toss has the same options for the half the winner of the toss did not select.
There will not be ties in the HFL divisions. In the event of a tie game at the end of regulation play shootout will occur to determine the winner.  Shootout Rules is as follows:
  • Coin toss will take place prior to the start of the overtime.  Home calls coin toss.
  • Winner of coin toss has right to take offensive or defer to defensive.
  • The starting defensive will have the last opportunity to score.
  • Ball is spotted at 10-yard line. If no one scores after the first series the ball is moved to the 5 yard line until a winner is determined. The ball will be  moved to the 3 yard line after 2 failed tries.
  • Offensive has 4 downs to score.  There are no first downs.
  • If a TD is scored the extra point can be a kick, a run or a pass.
  • Field goals are allowed
If the defense intercepts or recovers a fumble after their offense has already scored in overtime, the game is over.

Each team will be allocated two *Time-Outs per half. Timeouts may not be combined to have more than 2 per half.
* Running Clock will Stop /   30 sec Time Out
* Running Clock will Stop for (Major) Injury /  Officials Time-Out/ Delay of Game Penalty / *Additional Stoppage in Post Season Play - see Running Clock Post season
Touchdown = 6 points
Field Goal = 3 points
P.A.T. = will start at the 3 yard line and 2 points will be awarded for a kick and 1 point for scoring via the run or completion of a pass.
Safety = 2 points and ball is kicked back to the team who scored the safety

Once a team is up by 17 points they must switch out their entire starting backfield including quarterback and running backs.  Starting players are considered your best running backs or players drafted as impact or high rated players. Coaches must make every effort to get backups in for both offense and defense. All players should be given a chance to play key positions based on their ability  and adhere weight restrictions and other regulations. No blitzing at any time. There is no coaching excuse for not having a 2nd and 3rd backup player at every position.


  • There will be punting at this level. There are no kickoffs.
  • At the start of the game after a coin toss whoever elects to receive the ball will start on their 35 yard line on offense. After a touchdown is scored the team that was scored upon takes over on offense from their 35 yard line.
  • On fourth down and long a team must declare if they are punting the ball or going for it. If a punt is declared and the ball is inside their own 20 the ball can be moved 25 yards automatically, no physical punt and the opposing team will start on offense from that point. No rushing, see Field Goals. Punts downed inside the 10 will be moved out to the 10.
  • Field Goals and Kicking PAT’s are allowed however rushing is not allowed. The defense is permitted to hold their hands up and jump up to block the ball when it is kicked. The holder and kicker can take their time in setting up and attempting the kick. Rushing before the ball is kicked will result in an offside call and a re-kick. Fakes are not permitted.
A safety will award the defense with 2 Points and the team that was scored on will then free kick the ball from their own 20 and the receiving team lined up 10 yards back, the ball is not live unless touched by the receiving team. Kicking team has the option of a automatic 25 yard punt putting the ball on Kickers 45.

  • OnlyStandard Approved Offensive Formationsper the Division 3 issued league playbook will be allowed. No variations are allowed or trick plays. Objective is to get the players used to how we play at the JV and Varsity level. The only offensive plays that can be run are up the middle, off tackle, sweeps, pitch sweeps, passes, screen passes and "Blind" Quarterback keepers/bootlegs, Quarterback Sneak as defined in Play Book. 
    All blocking should be thigh high or above (waist high). No chop blocking or aiming at the knees or below to start a block is permitted. An illegal block foul will be called with a 15 yard penalty.
    Players must be in a two or three point stance before the start of every play at this level. 
    Chains will be used and a first down will be awarded after 10 yards are gained. This will continue until a touchdown is scored, the team elects to punt or a turnover occurs. 
  • All teams will run a Standard5-2 Defenseand mayrunShort Yardage  on 4th down or any down inside the 10 yard line. The standard 5-2 will allow for standard alignment, TNT (guards covered and tackles open)and Short Yardage -7 man line.
    All Linebackersmust be lined up5 yards from the line of scrimmageand Cornerbacks must be lined up1 - 3 yardsfrom the line of scrimmage and play outside the TE 2-3 yards, corners may line up head on split receivers or wideouts. Safeties will be 8 yards off Line of Scrimmage
    Nose Guard/Tacklemust be in a 3-point stance and will be alignedHead upthe Center one yard off of the tip of the ball. There will be NO gap play (see Shooting Gaps) . 
    Defensive GuardsandTackleswill use a 3-point stance and will align themselves on the outside shoulder or head up (no inside shoulder)of their Counterpart on the offensive line. 
    Defensive Endsare either 2 point or 3-point stance and will align themselves head up or on the outside shoulder of the TE or in case of split formation the approximate spot (1 yard outside of tackle). 
    At the start of every play all defensive lineman must engage their offensive counter partsbefore pursuing to the ball. No shooting gaps (see Shooting Gap).
    NOTE: There is no blitzing of any kind in Division 3.
     Blitz  is defined as Any movement toward the Line of Scrimmage by the Linebackers, Safeties or Cornerbacks Prior to the Snap.
    Shooting Gap  is defined as Any intentional avoidance by the Defensive Lineman to make initial contactwith their Offensive counterpart before pursuing the play.
    Goal line D(Optional formation) when the ball is on your 10 yard line or closer.In Goal Line Dyou will have a maximum of 7 men on the line of scrimmage    (7-2). Must be head up the guards and tacklesand outside shade or head upfor the defensive ends. 2 Safeties in the Linebackers Position must be 3 yards off Line of Scrimmage at the snap of the ball.  Cornerbacks move to a few yards from Defensive Ends and line up 1 to 3 yards off Line of Scrimmage
There are no protests. The decision of the league directors is final. These games are to teach the kids the fundamentals of the game.

Game jerseys and pants (gold) are to be worn for all regular games along with the correct color jersey. No game uniform is to be used for practices. Players are responsible to return all equipment in clean condition. Any equipment that is damaged during normal wear and tear will be replaced by the HFL. Any equipment lost or abused will have to be reimbursed by the player to the league.

Wilson K-2 football or a similarly sized ball provided by the league will be used.

The Field
Box: is from 25 yard line to 25 yard line(as per NFHS Rules). Home Team is Always on the East Side of Fields. Chains, Down Marker and Yard Markers are Always on Visitor Sideline. 
Chain Gang:Home Teamis Responsiblefor procuring a (3)AdultCrew to operate the Chains

Teams will be picked from those who have registered during the first weeks of practice in August. Once the rosters are set, only the league director can add or make changes to the teams. If new players join after teams are selected the director will determine where to place any new players.

All players shall get at least one opportunity during the year to be a captain to start the game. There can be more than one captain for each game.

All players must have one starting position.If they do not start on offense they must start on defense. They also must get playing time on both sides of the ball. Coaches should make every effort to have players play more than one position on both sides of the ball and in skilled positions (running back, quarterback, center on offense; linebacker). Coaches are responsible for getting depth atall positions, no excuses for not having enough of any type of player.
All players must have all their equipment with them in order to participate in any given game or practice. This equipment is to include: helmet, shoulder pads, rib guards, mouth piece, jersey, athletic supporter and cup, football pants, 2 knee pads, 2 thigh pads, girdle, 2 hip pads, a tail pad and Rubber Molded Football Cleats. Shoes with Detachable Cleats are prohibited. 
A Mouth Piece/Guardwill be warn at all times during Games and Practices. During Games, Failure to have the Mouth Piece in the players mouth at the time of Snap will receive a Team warning for the first offense than a 5 yard penalty there after. The Mouth Piece/Guard must meet NFHS/NJSIAA Rules and Specifications. SECTION 5/ ARTICLE 1/ PARAGRAPH I   which also states:
Weigh-in will occur in the first few days of Practice.  Any player weighing more than 95lbswill not be eligible to Quarterback, run the ball or run pass patterns. On Offense any player over 95lbswill play Tackle; Guard or Nose. On defense they must play defensive line or linebacker. Maximum Weightfor Linebackersis 105 lbs.    
NOTE: (Maximum Weight for Running Backs, Quarterbacks and Linebackers can be altered Based On a 45lb. differential from Weight of Lightest Rostered Player in Division 3).
The conduct of COACHES, PLAYERS, CHEERLEADERS, OFFICIALS, Chain Gang, Trainer, Statistician and PARENTS at games is of critical importance.
The following must be observed and is subject to change. The administrative rules of the organization will also be enforced in addition to any regulations mentioned here. 
Spectators are not permitted beyond the 20 yard line, at or behind the End Zone and should not be closer than 5 yards to the sideline. 
Important Note: Players and coaches must refrain from open, loud, visible criticism of players, cheerleaders, coaches, parents and officials during the game. Penalty for violation will be 15 yards at the discretion of the officials on the field or the league directors. Offending party may be suspended from the game and asked to leave the facility. If during the same game a second penalty is enforced the head coach of the team will be removed from the game along with the problem person(s).
A second unsportsmanlike conduct call on the same person during theseasonwill be considered grounds for expulsionfrom the league for an individual player, cheerleader, coach, parent or official involved pending League Decision. 
Coaches must take special efforts to see that the conduct of parents reflects favorably on their team. Harassment of Officials and unruly conduct of parents will be subject to 15 yard penalties. In the case of abusive conduct on the sidelines, officials may or may not warn the offending team based on the situation. Repeated violations will result in penalties or forfeiture of the game.
Anytime it is necessary for an official to penalize a team 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of any non-player (coach, parent, cheerleader, statistician, yard markers, etc.),the offending adult will be asked to leave the playing field immediately.
The consumption of drugs, alcoholic beverages, or tobacco products on a game or practice field by anyone is prohibited. Any player ejected from a game will be suspended from the next scheduled game. 
Any player ejected from 2 games in a season will be suspended for 2 additional games. 
* Any coach ejected from a game will be suspended from the next scheduled game. This suspension will apply to all levels of play and games scheduled. Any coach ejected from 2 games within a single season shall be banned from coaching in the League indefinitely pending a review to be re-admitted. Readmission is solely at the discretion of the league Directors. 
Important NOTE:It is the duty of the Head Coach to see that all players, cheerleaders, parents, and assistant coaches are fully aware of these rules. It is encouraged that an assistant coach be in charge of parents and sidelines to help enforce our rules.
Will be generally decided on by the league directors. Once the teams are given guidelines it is up to each team to pick an appropriate name.

All teams make the playoffs and the schedule will be a typical format of Top seed vs. Bottom seed, 2nd seed vs. next to last seed etc. based on the number of teams in the league. Tie Breaker for Seeding will be decided by a simple coin flip (see Tie Breakers), points for and against are not used to avoid running up scores. 
Note: Post Season Alignment and Procedure can change prior to the start of Post Season Play based on the Number of Teams in the Division in order to accommodate "All teams make the Play-offs"
* Coin Flip-  Top Seed in Playoff Games will make the Call/ Home Team during Regular Season Games
* 3 way Tie - In the event more than two teams are Tied, a Shoot-Out may be played. (see Overtime - Shoot-Out Rules). Based on scheduling, a 3 way coin flip will be used, odd man has lower spot.
Practices will begin on August 16thand is subject to change based on league decisions. Practice prior to school starting  will be 2 1/2 hours in length for a total of 4 practices per week. Once school begins each team will be allowed a maximum of 6 hours of practice time per week with no single practice exceeding 2 hours in length for a maximum of 3 practices per week. All practices are to be held at the official practice field. Any practice outside the 2 specified days (Monday, Wednesday) must not be for contact drills, shorts and helmets only. Teams must notify league directors of intent to practice outside the assigned days. 

All Coaches must be Rutgers Trained and Certified. The league offers training for a nominal fee. No other certifications will be accepted.
OnlyFour Coaches in Box during Games;  It is Every Coaches Responsibility to Maintain their Sideline.
There is No Limitto the Number of Coaches Allowed for Practices providedthat they are Rutgers Trainedand  a productive Part of the Practice
Head Coach: Oversee and Delegate Responsibilities, Instruct Proper Technique in Tackling, Blocking etc.
Assistant Coach:    Carry out Head Coaches program /  Instruct Proper Technique in Tackling, Blocking etc.
Assistant Coach/ Bench Coach: Primary Responsibility is to Ensure each Player gets Maximum Playing Time on Both Sides of the Ball             
Assistant Coach/ Equipment Manager:  Primary Responsibility is to Ensure each Player is Properly Equipped
Assistant Coach/ Trainer:  Primary Function is to Maintain Medical Supplies, Administer Ice Packs; Band Aids etc.
Water Bottlesare Away from Playing Field toward the back of the Coaches Box
* Non-Active Playersare 1 or more yards from Sideline
* Spectatorsare at least 5 yards from Sideline
* No Spectators in/or around End Zones
* Non Active Players, Spectators or Coaches are on the Field of Play or beyond the 25 yard line
* Maintain a Civil, Healthy, Positive and Sportsmanship Environment