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Stay in the game -- become an official

STAFF WRITER

An increase in the number of high school stadiums in the area in recent years has contributed to a shortage of officials for high school football games.

The situation in Santa Ana provides an example of what has happened. Santa Ana Stadium used to be shared by all the city’s schools for varsity home football games. Mater Dei, Santa Ana, Santa Ana Valley, Saddleback and Century played there. So there would be a high school game there on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights on a typical week.

Then Segerstrom opened with an on-campus stadium that Saddleback and Valley also share. Last season, Century added a home football stadium and one opened adjacent to Valley. Santa Ana Stadium was less impacted, and more of the city’s teams could play on Friday nights.

“Everyone wants to play under the Friday night lights,” said Paul Caldera, assignor for the Orange County Football Officials Association.

But there are not enough officials to send to all of the Friday night games. Before, an official often worked games on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Now, with fewer Thursday and Saturday games, more Friday night games are on the schedule.

Year-round sports also have thinned the ranks of football officials. Many football officials have been basketball officials or baseball officials, and vice versa. But with fall basketball leagues and travel-ball baseball in the autumn, some officials are sticking with those sports during football season.

Five-official crews are still the norm, but more games will be using seven-official crews this coming season. That, too, impacts the football officials’ roster.

All of the aforementioned also makes it more difficult to adequately staff lower-level football games with officiating crews.

The Orange County Football Officials Association needs more men and women to become football officials.

The OCFOA has two on-field training sessions. The first is Saturday at Edison during the “Battle at the Beach” passing tournament. Another is July 23 at Crean Lutheran.

The OCFOA’s first regular classroom meeting is July 20, starting at 6:30 p.m., at Los Alisos Intermediate School in Mission Viejo.

For more information, go to ocfoa.org or contact Caldera at paulcaldera9@gmail.com or at 714-906-5174.

The pay: $82 for a varsity referee, $80 for the other varsity officials; and $74 for a non-varsity game referee, and $72 for the other officials on the field for a non-varsity game.

Ex-players often find that being an official keeps them involved with the game. Former San Diego Chargers quarterback Moses Moreno is going into his fourth season as a high school football official in San Diego County.

As a former player, that just fills the whole camaraderie, locker-room feel,” Moreno told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “That Friday night lights is special for officials, too.”


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