You Make the Call – Championship Week!

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

Here are a few play situations to help get you ready for the championship games. Good luck and congratulations to all players, coaches, fans, and officials!

1. Play: A’s ball 4 & 4 @ 50. Kicker A10 punts and the ball first strikes the ground at Team B’s 5 yard-line. Returner B22 gives a valid fair catch signal at B’s 10 but does not catch the ball. As player A47 is just about to “down” the ball, B22 blocks him from the side at the B-4 yardline. The block causes A47 to force the ball from the B-4 out of the back of the end zone.


(A) A’s ball 1 & 10 @ B’s 35

(B) B’s ball, 1 & 10 @ B’s 4

(C) B’s ball, 1 & 10 @ B’s 2

(D) B’s ball 1 & 10 @ B’s 20

2. Play: A’s ball 4 & 1 @ B’s 29. QB A15 is under heavy rush and commits intentional grounding at B’s 35. Clearly after the play, linebacker B50 commits an unnecessary roughness personal foul.


(A) A’s ball, 1 & 10 @ B’s 25

(B) B’s ball, 1 & 10 @ B’s 25

(C) A’s ball, 4 & 1 @ B’s 29

(D) A’s ball, 1 & 10 @ B’s 14.5

(E) B’s ball, 1 & 25 @ B’s 25

3. Play: A85 is running on a long breakaway play uncontested toward the end zone in the 3rd quarter. At B’s 5 yardline, A85 does a celebratory summersault into the endzone.


(A) Team B may accept the 15 yard penalty on the PAT or the Kickoff

(B) The TD does not stand; A’s ball 1 & 10 @ B’s 20

(C) Team B may accept the 15 yard penalty on the kickoff only; kick will be at A’s 25

(D) Team B may accept the 15 yard penalty on the PAT only; PAT will be at the 18 yard-line

Posted in Football | 7 Comments »


“Behind The Scenes” – Officiating High School Sports

Friday, October 29th, 2010

With the very brief lull between 1st Round and Qtr Final, I thought I would describe some aspects of officiating that may be unknown.

Why should I want to officiate? Officiating is about being involved in a great game and allowing the players the experience to play – just like the officials who worked my games did for me. It also presents a great opportunity for camaraderie amongst crew-members – the car-ride to and from the game, in terms of interactions, is often no different than your legion baseball bus trips or hanging out in the locker-room after practice when you were a player. Officiating presents an opportunity to meet great people and develop new skills as a person – all while being involved with great games and relatively big events at a local level.

Nevermind the criticism – everyone knows there will be criticism since sports are competitive and emotional in nature – decisions have to be made at the snap-of-the-fingers that unfortunately will not always benefit both sides.

How do I get started? Getting started is very easy. Contact the SDHSAA ( and request an application – they can mail, e-mail, or fax it to you. You fill it out and mail, email, or fax it back. There are licensing fees and uniform costs. These costs are tax deductible and will usually be covered by income generated within the first season of officiating games. Part of the licensing process may include taking a rules test to become registered/certified depending on the location where the official works. To work varsity-level games, passing a rules test annually is always required.

How do I get games? Normally, officials in any sport should strive to work middle-school and sub-varsity contests their first few years – contact the local Athletic Directors to see if they have games available. It is important for a new official to also remain available for any opportunity to substitute on a varsity game. After registering with the SDHSAA, a packet of information that includes a list of regional meetings will be mailed to you. The new official should attend any or all of the meetings listed to meet the local guys who have experience – have your name, email address, and phone number ready – these are the guys often looking for those substitutes mentioned above. After the first 1 or 2 years, like any other “business”, it becomes a network of knowing people and getting involved. Getting games requires taking action and meeting people.

I’m working varsity games, now what? Enjoy the ride! The atmosphere on most football fields and basketball courts on Friday nights is electric! The players, coaches, and fans are jacked-up to compete! From an officiating aspect, it’s about putting in time away from the field or court to learn the rules, mechanics, and philosophies on how to officiate a game. Rules are in the book (black and white). Mechanics are how you move to be in the proper position and signal to communicate. Philosophies are taking a practical approach to the rules to make the game fair to both sides based on the actions of the players. Mechanics and Philosophies are learned and developed with experience and good mentoring.

Working the Game. The process of working a game starts with the trip to the location of the game – it can be in the town you live or as a much as a few hours away. Normally the crew will catch-up personally and talk family, job, sports, politics (hopefully to a minimum!!), and anything else. Then, as game-time gets closer, discussion of the game begins and a business-like approach forms. What did we do last week that we can improve on? What did we do last week that was really great? Sometimes one or more crew-members will provide some hypothetical situations to discuss to keep everybody sharp on obscure rules. If styles of offense or defense by the teams are known, discussion will take place on proper coverage. Which official is looking where? How do we officiate this play or that play? These discussions can turn passionate and great philosophies are developed as a result.

Then, out to the field/court to meet with the AD, coaches, and players (captains). The players are warming-up, will be introduced, and then the National Anthem is played – this is the point where you will often sense that electric atmosphere depending on the game-site. It’s in the air!

During the game, speaking about football, we have about 100-125 opportunities (plays) where we are required to be perfect. Most plays are routine with no stress. There will be a handful of plays every game where a bang-bang situation will occur and judgments are made. By using the proper mechanics, rules knowledge, and philosophies, the officials are doing their best to get every call correct. Calls are made in good faith with objective judgment as a basis.

After the game, all those bang-bang plays are discussed often at great length amongst the crew. Did we get it right? Were we in the right position? Somebody break out the rules book to verify something! Then it becomes a relaxed atmosphere and the camaraderie kicks in. Usually a stop at a local restaurant or convenience store is included or one of the crew-members has taken initiative to pack some food/beverages and bring it along on the trip.

Once the trip is completed it is back to much-needed family time and the “real job.” During the week there may be emails flying around the crew to set-up travel for the upcoming game or further discuss a play from a previous game.

Are you interested? Get started! Basketball is just around the corner.

Posted in Football | 3 Comments »


You Make the Call!

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Let’s see how well the Buzzard contingency knows High School Football rules. There are 2 “quiz” questions below:

1.  Play: Team B (the defense) intercepts a legal forward pass and returns it for a touchdown. Prior to the change of team possession, Team A (the offense) is flagged for a chop block (high/low combo block on the same player). Time expires in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd quarter during the down.

A. TD for Team B. The penalty is declined.
B. Cancel the Score. Team A’s Ball after enforcement of the penalty for the Chop Block
C. TD for Team B. The penalty is enforced on the try.
D. TD for Team B. The penalty is enforced on the try or the next kickoff at the option of Team B.

2.  Play: Team A’s ball 4th & 8 on A’s 40. The snap goes over punter A8′s outstretched arms. While he is chasing the ball, a Team B defender holds a Team A “flyer” on A’s 45.  A8 recovers the ball, circles around and punts the ball from A’s 17.  Team B receiver catches the punt on B’s 47 and is downed on A’s 49.

A. The penalty is enforced from the previous spot; A’s ball, 1st & 10 @ the 50
B. The penalty is enforced from where the ball was kicked; A’s ball, replay 4th down @ A’s 27
C. The penalty is enforced from the spot of the foul; B’s ball, 1st down @ B’s 45
D. The penalty is enforced from the end of the kick; B’s ball, 1st down @ B’s 37

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Posted in Football | 11 Comments »


2010 Football New Rules

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Good luck to all players, coaches, and fans for the upcoming season.

Every year during the off-season, the Football Rules Committee of the National Federation Of State High School Associations meets to discuss potentail rules changes for High School Football.

There are not many “noticeable” rules changes in High School Football for the 2010 season. Most of them are administrative that will hopefully have little effect on most games.

Here are some of the Major Rules Changes for 2010:

1.   Sideline -  Unintentional contact by a non-player with an official in the restricted area while the ball is live  results in a 15 yard penalty for the first offense.

This is a rule that is mostly as a result of a lawsuit that took place in Texas. An official was working on the sideline and bumped into a coach. The coach sustained some injuries and then his insurance company sued the entire crew of officials. The officials ended up being awarded $400k for court costs, etc and the case was thrown out. Officials are asked to use common sense here, but we don’t want anybody (coaches, substitutes, players, or officials) being injured during the game.

2. Coin Toss – During the coin toss, all players must be off the field except the captains participating in the toss (no more than four per team)

This is due to the rise in intimidation type unsportsmanlike conduct acts that seem to be on the rise at upper levels.

3. Injured Players – Any player who exhibits sign of a concussion must be removed from the game and may not return until cleared by an appropriate health care professional.

This is a huge topic of discussion in all sports at all levels nationwide. The old rule was based on an unconcious player. Now they are finding out that concussions are sustained without losing conciousness. Coaches and Officials are being asked to scrutinize any behavior exhibited by a player that has signs related to a concussion.

4. Substitution – The time period with which replaced players must begin to leave the field has been defined as three seconds after the substitute arrives.

This is more of just a clarification of a philosophy/interpretation that has always been in place.

5. Horse Collar Tackle - modified to state that the player who is tackled does not need to be a runner when he comes to the ground.

Last year a Horse-Collar Tackle foul could not be called if the ball carrier fumbled in the process of the tackle. This year, it can be called in this situation due to this slight rule change clarification.

Posted in Football | 4 Comments »