Belly ache after homecooking

Written by Paul Harder, The Observer November 04, 2008 02:53 pm

For all the officials I know around the valley, I’m sorry. This column has been brewing for a week and a half. Yes, it’s a knock on a group of officials. But thankfully it’s not directed at anyone I know.

Either way the column had to be written.

With the disclaimer out there I can now get to the point.

Teams that travel understand —  or believe — the home team will get a few calls to go its way. While that’s not always the case, it’s a belief.

But a recent game I covered nearly made me hurl as the officials changed a game. Did the calls allow the other team to win? I’d say no. But it didn’t help.

People told me to expect officials at this game to make bad calls. I took it for whining about past losses. After witnessing it with my own eyes, I too can warn people.

Three plays in particular stood out. They involved a player punching another player on the ground, a two-point conversion and a pivotal play in the final three minutes.

While they were all inexcusable mistakes the first certainly tops them all.

The area running back took the handoff up the right sideline. Two players tackled him out-of-bounds by about two feet.

One of those players then took a “swing” at the runningback. I highlight swing because that’s what the official called it. He wasn’t thrown out because it wasn’t a “punch”.

Apparently the officiating crew doesn’t know slang, but those are in fact the same thing.

I had heard the team in question is known for being dirty. I won’t judge the whole team, but there are certain players, like the one in question, who are.

The team was flagged with three personal foul penalties on that drive — all on late hits.

Maybe as a make-up call, which officials allegedly don’t make, the player that swung got tossed out of the game.

That player showed me all I needed to see as he kicked and threw his helmet about 50 yards back to the locker room. A true class act.

Maybe I lied, because the two-point conversion fiasco was pretty bad too.

The aforementioned running back took the ball up the middle across the goal line.

An official came running in to mark the ball short about 20 seconds after the play was over.

I talked to a person representing the home team after the game. That person confirmed the fact it was a terrible call. “He was in by two yards,” the person said.

 There is also video evidence supporting the case — if only you could throw the red flag in high school football.

The final play in question came during a crucial point in the game.

On third down, the home team quarterback slipped three yards behind the line of scrimmage. However, the ball was marked at the previous spot — inside the 1-yard line. Instead of 4th-and-goal from the 3-yard line, his team was six inches from the end zone.

The opposing team scored a touchdown to make it a two-score game.

It was atrocious to watch. Great officials are rarely talked about. The bad ones dominate the game. We all like a little homecooking, but next time let’s not stuff ourselves.


Paul Harder is the sports editor for The Observer. Reach him by e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it