High School Sports

WEEK 10: Making the call

Question: With the playoffs approaching, how are officiating crews selected for state playoff games?

Answer: First of all there are two distinctly different levels in the playoffs. The first two rounds, as well as the sometimes necessary Tuesday play-in round are run through the district. This means the state sets up the criteria for who is to host each game but does not determine the venues to be used.

The state does insist that games in the first two rounds as well as the semifinals and finals be played on sanctioned fields.

Where teams play determines which officials are selected to work. In the first two rounds, officiating crews are split crews coming from the two competing teams’ areas. The home venue will provide the referee, linesman and back judge as well as an alternate, while the road association will provide the umpire and line judge.

In our local association, our board reviews officials’ ratings and determines a list of qualified officials to potentially work. The actual assigning falls on the shoulders of the assigning secretary with the implied intent to work as many of our top 20 as possible.

The semifinals and finals are handled by the state, and each year each association receives a notice telling us which positions, rounds and levels of play we have been selected to work.

This year we received two referee positions and one each for umpire, linesman, line judge and back judge. The number to be selected each year is based on a formula, which takes into account the number of certified officials in an association and the number of schools serviced. We for several years have received six assignments.

The officials selected for a state assignment must be available to work both weekends in order to accept a game. They also must have attended a “senior seminar,” passing a test to insure they are of qualified.

Locally, we further require that for anyone to be considered for a playoff assignment they must have turned in a signed rating sheet of their peers.

This season our local members who will be working state assignments are: Mark Johnson (referee, Mount Vernon), Stu Gorski (referee, Ferndale), James Cheeseboro (umpire, Oak Harbor), Dave Donnelly (linesman, Bellingham), Ross Sakai (line judge, Richmond, B.C.) and Matt Woodruff (back judge, Marysville).

Larry LaBree is the assignor for Whatcom, Skagit and Island county officials and is a veteran of 36 seaons of high school football in Whatcom County.

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