The rules of high school football are somewhat similar to those of the NCAA and the NFL. The National Federation of State High School Association determine the rules for High School football except for the states of Texas and Massachusetts. These two states use the NCAA rules.
In high school, the kick offs take place from the kicking team's 40 yard line. This is because a high school student's leg is typically not as strong. If the ball is kicked into the end zone it is automatically ruled a touchback, like a punt in other forms of football. The ball cannot be run out of the end zone.
The same is true for missed field goal attempts. In the NFL and NCAA a player can catch a missed field goal and run it back provided the ball stays in the field of play. If the ball crosses the goal line in high school it is ruled a touchback. On extra point tries and two point conversions the defense cannot advance the ball for a score as in the NFL.
Each quarter is twelve minutes long, rather than the fifteen used at higher levels of play. Overtimes are decided on a state by state basis. Some states use a twelve minute sudden death format. The overtime format used in college with each team receiving the ball on the opponent's twenty-five yard line was first used by Kansas high school teams.
The penalties are mostly the same in high school, college, and professional football. High school and college football both have a fifteen yard pass interference penalty that results in an automatic first down. The NFL puts the ball at the spot of the penalty.
High school students live unique lives. Some are in private schools, others are in public schools. There is a small percentage of high school athletes who are home schooled. These student athletes have to abide by the rules of their home state. Many states do not allow these students to play at a high level but some states allow students to play for the school district in which they live.
High school football is essentially the same game as the professional level. The rules that are in place are designed to help students at their skill level. Understanding these rules is key to enjoying a great game.