Our crew would love to work a football game where we threw no flags. It would be a blast to just spot the ball and let two good football teams play within the rules.
As officials we talk about this utopia all the time. On Thursday, we got close, only throwing a total of four flags in our varsity game all night long. Then our crew worked the Snowflake at Seton Catholic game on Friday. We expected a great football game between two great teams and it was.
However, after calling 22 fouls, as a crew you walk off the field with an empty feeling.
Of course you hear the crowd and coaches frustrated over the many delays and the feeling we should “let the kids play.” In the case of Seton, it was 10 second half penalties that ultimately helped lead to its first loss of the season.
As the game’s final seconds counted down, with Snowflake taking a knee to secure the win, I braced myself for a few cold stares and maybe a negative word or two thrown our way about how the officials cost Seton the game. But, to my surprise, it didn’t happen at Seton.
Seton’s players went out of their way to shake my hand and to tell me “good game.” The Seton coaches and administration all thanked us and appreciated our efforts even though they came up short on the scoreboard. I honestly was surprised by this tremendous display of sportsmanship and respect for the game.
Upon returning to the locker room, our crew discussed each foul we called and some we didn’t. We reviewed a few rules and mechanics that will help us as a crew get better in the coming weeks.
I asked each member of the crew to watch the game film over the weekend and grade each call and be honest with each other. After all the review I am sure we as a crew got most of what we called last Friday night right.
The same should be said about Seton Catholic Prep as it relates to the character of kids playing high school sports.
Don Cerimeli has been an official with the AIA for more than 23 years. He has worked state football and basketball state championship games. In 2004 he was named the Pursuing Victory with Honor Official of the Year. He’s Arizona’s representative on the National Federations of State High School Associations football rules committee.