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The following items are e-mail communications from George Demetriou, current CFOA President. Content on this page is updated weekly.

Here are some recent happenings that you may find of interest and worthy of mention:


I am writing this in response to more than one incident and I do not want to get into a big mechanics lecture. I ve seen a lot of different crews work and there are many variations to the coordination between referee and umpire regarding the RFP.

For HS games, it is essential that the umpire stand over the ball until the RFP is whistled. If he doesnt, you run the risk of having the ball snapped before the RFP. If that happens, the officials lose no matter what. There are three ways to deal with it.

1-      Call a delay foul which is correct by rule. That will aggravate the offensive coach who may or may not know the officials could have prevented it if they had followed standard mechanics .

2-      Ignore it. That may be okay if no one was placed at a disadvantage by the premature snap/kick . A premature kickoff is probably not worth messing with unless the receiving team wasnt ready . A play from scrimmage will probably be a different story.

3-      Do-over. That will likely aggravate the defensive coach because he knows the opponents have fouled and the officials are letting them get away with it. This is simply not a good idea. In a rare case with extenuating circumstances, it might work . Earlier this season there was a do-over because the QB claimed he heard a whistle and thought it was the ready. It happened on third and goal from one so the defense was livid.

Ive experimented with this during several of my 500 games with a mercy running clock this year. Most QB s do not pay attention to the ready whistle. When they are ready and the snapper can get at the ball, they snap . This can be very troublesome in a normal game with a hurry-up offense and the clock running.


1- We are continuing to have problems with ejections. Weve had two incidents where the head coach was not told of the ejection. In one of those cases, the ejected player was sent back into the game by a coach. He was observed and only then was the head coach told. The referee recognized his error and did not further penalize the team. Please adhere to the following.

The referee should discuss the possible ejection with all crew members who observed the incident. This will help ensure the ejection is warranted and the correct player is identified. No hip shot ejections.

The referee must inform the head coach of the ejection and the reason. He should obtain the players name at that time.

The report to CHSAA must include the players name

2- Apparently some coaches do not understand there are no formation restrictions for an onside kick. One coach insisted there had to be two players on either side of the ball and another said six. The latter was not a math teacher.

3- If a loss of down penalty occurs on 4th down, the distance is walked off before the ball is given to B, first and 10.

4- Fouls during a down that ends up as a safety do not carry over. The free kick is from the 20 unless there was a dead-ball foul after the ball or a USC during the play.

5- An official reported “I gave him an unsportsmanship foul for a late hit. Thats an oxymoron. USC;s are not contact fouls such as taunting, showing off and cursing. Late hits are PFs and don’t count toward DQ for two USCs.  


First a little rant on JV games. These are formal practice sessions or rehearsals that mean a lot to the participants who are vying for varsity play. There are varying philosophies are whether to be stricter or more lenient in these games. This answer is probably all of the above and whatever is done needs to be in the interest of education. We can be lenient on jersey numbers and matching uniforms, etc., but there can be no compromise on safety. Here are two items:

1-      Eye shields must be clear. The purpose of the rule is to allow the players eyes to be examined without removing the helmet. Sunglasses and dark goggles can be removed by reaching under the eye shield. The eye shield itself cannot be removed without removing the helmet and that risks further neck injury. There can be NO compromise here. Last week the JV officials let Player X use a dark eye shield (the coach is very eloquent). On Friday night, the varsity referee refused to allow it and CHSAA was called from the field. That didnt change the answer. Please no tinted eye shields.

2-      The second issue involves overlooking safety fouls. We cannot do that. The score is irrelevant. The following note (edited for brevity) says it very well.

"I am writing you today because of an injury I saw happen yesterday at a JV football game.   I am a Physician Assistant practicing in Neurosurgery and Family Practice.    During the game we had a running back circle out of the backfield to catch a swing pass.  The running back was looking up to catch and pull the ball into his chest when the defensive cornerback struck with a 10 yard running start and a vicious helmet to helmet tackle.  It immediately decked the player.   This occurred right in front of the side judge.  I have not seen a more obvious helmet to helmet hit for quite some time and yet no penalty called. The young man did in fact sustain a concussion on the play.  Review of the video clearly shows helmet-to-helmet contact and a clearly audible "crack" from the impact.  The player also received a laceration to the jaw where the defensive players facemask impacted." 

I urge you to send a vigorous reminder to all officials in the state to aggressively call penalties on helmet to helmet hits.  It's a safety issue that affects the future of each athlete.  We missed an opportunity to prevent injury to many other young athletes.  


1- We recently had an unfortunate incident that was totally avoidable. A player threw a punch and no one got the number. That by itself is not a horrific error, but then the crew guessed and ejected the wrong player. The film clearly showed the ejected player walking away from the spot of the incident before it occurred. To make matters worse, the following transpired:

a.      The reporting official stated “I  think the # is …”

b.      Both teams agreed as to who the perpetrator was and gave the correct # to the referee who chose to ignore that and go with the official’s guess. CHSAA did vacate the ejection because it was an administrative error, but the player did have to sit out the second half of the game in question.


2- Please remember that on tries and FG attempts the holder for the placekick must rise before handing off the ball or passing it. In an NCAA TV game this past weekend, the holder handed the ball off to the kicker with his knee on the ground.  That’s okay under their rules, but not ours.

3- OLD BUSINESS: The team that erroneously won because the officials lost track of the score decided to forfeit their win, so that sad chapter is closed.


1- Ive gotten a lot of questions about horse collar tackles. The rule is not perfect. There are a couple of scenarios which may look bad but are not a foul by rule. There are also instances where the tackle is not any more harmful than a regular tackle but is a foul by rule. In either of those types of situations someone is going to complain regardless of whether you throw the flag or pass. Without writing a thesis on horse collars, I try to give you a couple of bullets that highlight the problematic scenarios.

        If the grab of the side or back of the collar is the leverage that brings the runner to the ground it is a foul.

        If the collar is grabbed and a second player gets involved in the tackle, it most likely is not a foul. The same is true if a lone tackler slows the runner by the collar and then wraps him or pushes him to the ground. The fact his hand may still be on the collar doesnt cause a foul, the collar grab has to be the leverage.

2- I am committed to the principle that if something is not clearly illegal or potentially harmful and has a legitimate football purpose, we ought to leave it alone. So, Id like to backtrack on bicep bands and rubber bracelets. We do not need to nit pick those. If you think its a problem, then of course deal with it, but we have better things to do and only five guys. We dont need to be fashion police.

3- Also, play cards are clearly football related. The Case Book says they cannot be strapped to the belt. No one straps them to the belt you couldnt read them. If they are not on the wrist and are clipped to the belt or otherwise attached to the belt or pants, please let it be.

4- Passer beyond the line. The TV rule is the passers entire body has to be over the line. Thats a great rule for minimizing the required judgment, but it is not our rule. HS rules make it a foul if either foot is over the line. That is a very difficult judgment. It has to be made by the umpire who likely is not exactly on the line and if he is, he hasnt been there long enough to get completely still. If the box is right on a five-yard line, this call is easier, but in most cases the umpire has to approximate. So, I think you know where Im going with this dont nit pick. We dont want to add a degree of precision to this call that doesnt exist. If its not clearly a foul, leave it alone.

5- We want to address the concerns of head coaches and answer all of their questions. Assistant coaches are not entitled to the same courtesy. Assistants certainly can ask and get answers to reasonable questions, but we should not tolerate constant and frequent criticisms of the officiating from the sideline. Shouts of holding, block in the back, facemask, etc., imply the game is not being properly called and sets a bad example for the players. We do not want to be overly draconian and be accused of violating the first amendment, but it can get to the point where it is too much and needs to be shut down. A chat with the head coach usually works as does telling the loud-mouthed assistant that he is violating the rule regarding attempting to influence the officiating (15-yard penalty for unsporting conduct).

We are past the half-way point and the complaints have been minimal. You each get the credit for that. I know it takes time to provide feedback but we appreciate your efforts. Please keep it up.


1-      The snapper may cant the ball at any angle before the snap. There is no longer a 45 degree limitation.

2-      Mercy rule: The clock runs as soon as the 40-pt differential is established (2H only). So if A is leading 35-0 and they score a TD, the clock should actually keep running. However, the clock operator will stop it, so it should be immediately restarted. 40 means 40, there is no waiting period.


3-      Injury timeouts. Coaches cannot come between the numbers to talk to players. Any player can go near the sideline and talk to anyone as long as he stays on the field. They can also do that between plays within their allotted 25 seconds.

4-      IAW: a penalty on the play negates an IAW. The accepted penalty negates the result of the play, so the whistle is irrelevant (there might be a rare exception). Apparently we had an official deny that he blew such an IAW. Remember what Ben Franklin said: The flag is mightier than the whistle. (or something like that)

5-      Officials should not respond to alleged dirty looks from coaches. Coaches are entitled to whatever facial expression they can conjure up.


KEEPING SCORE: You may be aware that the Rule Book does not address keeping score. Nonetheless,  the officials are expected to keep score; we all have game cards that have space for the score.

i) We had a most embarrassing incident this past weekend where one coach alleges the officials verified the score in 3Q after an apparent discrepancy was noted. It appears the other team was not aware the score was verified, claims they were never asked to show their scorebook, that the allegedly correct score was incorrect and that they won the game. The “winning” team, that may have had fewer points, ran out the clock in 4Q.

ii) At this point, we don’t know the truth. It is clear though, that there were several failings and unfortunately the officials are in the middle of it.

iii) Please make sure all officials keep track of the score and that any discrepancy on the scoreboard is corrected as soon as it can be conveniently done so.

SUBSTITUTION INFRACTION - Between downs, before I marked the ball ready for play, my BJ dropped a flag for illegal substitution for a defensive player not starting to leaving the field of play within 3 seconds, just as he dropped his flag I marked the ball ready for play.   We stopped the clock and penalized team B, 5 yards, making it 1st and 5, then after marking the ball ready again I realized that something wasn't right, so I took an officials time-out and I said to the rest of the crew that since I hadn't marked the ball ready before the illegal substitution foul was called that we needed to reset the chains and make it 1st and 10 instead of 1st and 5. The substitution rule is not tied to the RFP. However, as a practical matter that flag was ill-advised. The defense gained no advantage. It's nice the BJ was cognizant of the number of players on the field, but that was an overly technical call. The writer was also correct about the chains, but the best thing he could have done was wave that flag off.

CHANGING FOOTBALLS - The ball may only be changed for kickoffs, first downs and a try after a COP (1-3-2). It may also be changed at the official’s discretion if it is wet, inaccessible, etc. Please do not allow your crews to let teams use a different ball for punts.

OFFICIALS WEARING SUNGLASSES - This is a touchy subject. Some officials have prescription lenses and there are a multitude of self-adjusting lenses available. I do not wish to get into how dark is too dark. The issue is one of perception by coaches and professional appearance. I’ll just point out two things:

i) The frame may be more important than the lenses. Dark lenses in a normal eyeglass frame are probably more likely to be accepted than traditional sunglasses. Flashy or beach-type sunglasses are more likely to look out of place.

ii) Dark glasses have been associated with blindness for at least a century; we are not going to change that. You all can figure it out from there.

FOULS AFTER A TOUCHDOWN - When both teams foul during or after a TD, the options are somewhat complicated because either foul can be enforced on the try or succeeding kickoff. Please note that if one of the fouls is a Live Ball Foul by the offense, the TD is cancelled and the following does not apply.




The scenario at hand includes the following:

i) USC fouls by each team either during or after the TD

ii) An LBF by the defense during the TD coupled with a USC by the offense (during or after the TD) or any other DBF

iii) DBF’s by each team after the TD and before the ready on try.

The scenario last night was the first combination: the scoring player heaved the ball high into the air to celebrate and a defender kicked the ball into the stands as it was rolling to protest. The response may have been avoided if the first foul had been promptly flagged.

BY RULE: If the fouls occurred simultaneously or the order of occurrence cannot be determined, the fouls cancel by rule. They are both signaled and the “decline” signal is given. That is not likely to happen.

i)  The fouls must be addressed in their order of occurrence. The coach of the opponents of the team that fouled first is the first coach that is approached. He must chose to have the opponent’s penalty enforced on either the try or the kickoff and he must be told that the other coach will then get the same choices. There will be four possible outcomes (try-try, try-KO, KO-try and KO-KO) and each outcome must be explained to the coach. The first coach cannot dictate the end result, but he might be able to make a choice that will avoid an undesired outcome.

ii) After the first coach decides, the second coach chooses between having his opponent’s foul enforced on the try or kickoff. We are down to two outcomes, so this explanation is a little simpler.

iii)  Please note the penalties will only cancel if both coaches choose the kickoff. If they both choose the try, the try will be snapped from either nine yard line or the 1 ½ yard line depending on who fouled first.

RECOMMENDATION: Tell each coach that the simplest outcome is to have the penalties cancel and you will do that unless they object. If they object, explain the above to them. They will likely cut you off and tell you to let them cancel.

If any of the fouls are flagrant, the player is ejected regardless of any of the above.

CELL PHONE USAGE - We’ve already gotten reports of officials using cell phones on the field. Last night, a coin toss was delayed because an official was discussing personal business on the phone and did not get his captains.

CONCUSSIONS - There is an online course for coaches regarding concussions that CHSAA requires all coaches with sole supervisory responsibility to take. Some coaches believe that course certifies them as a health care professional within the rules allowing them to clear a player to return to the game. That is not correct.  The only personnel that may approve an athlete to return to play once removed for concussion-like symptoms is an MD., DO., nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant.

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