TSSAA football officials prepare for start of season


HENDERSON, Tenn. — High school football players are not the only ones looking forward to showing off their colors. Game officials are also preparing to put on their stripes for game day.

“Think about this — you go to a small town, and that’s the biggest thing going on on Friday night, and you got two teams playing, and that’s the most important game in that town that night, and you get to go and get one of the best seats in the house,” said Robert King, supervisor and assigner for the Southwest Football Association.

High school football players are not the only ones preparing for the start of the season. More than 60 officials came together Wednesday night at Henderson City Hall for their final meeting before this week’s Jamboree.

“As far as playing Friday night with the lights on, this is the first night,” said Rex Baker, president of the Southwest Football Association.

During the meeting, they went over important things to remember when out on the field.

“The main thing is player safety. In this day and time, it’s player safety,” King said. “If you’ve seen the rule changes we’ve had in the last 10 years, it’s all been focused on player safety.”

“There’s a big emphasis on the blind-side hit this year, hitting the defensive player, that we see a lot of in sports now,” Baker said.

Next, they split up into breakout sessions for each individual position.

“We have a referee. That’s the guy we call the ‘white hat.’ He wears a white hat,” Baker said. “We have a line judge, and then we have a head linesman. We also have an umpire and a back judge, and then we have the ECO who is the electric clock operator.”

Along with knowledge and experience, officials say they also need to be tough.

“You got to have a thick skin. An official that doesn’t have a thick skin is not going to be an official too long, King said.

Southwest Football Association representatives say they are always looking for new officials. Even though it’s too late for this football season, there is always next year.

You can find more information on how to apply to be an official at tssaa.org.

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