It’s seen by everyone, but heard by only a few


The coaches on the sidelines of high school football games are multi-tasking.

Making strategic decisions. Some are calling plays or defenses. 

Managing personnel, whether it’s their players, or their assistant coaches, or both. 

There are dozens of other things that head coaches handle during the 48 minutes (or more) of competition each game. 

One that is apparent to everyone in the crowd: dealing with the referee and his officiating crew. 

Most often, it’s a calm conference during a brief break to trade perspectives, or sort out a call. 

Sometimes it can get fiery – from the sideline.  

But what is actually said?  

This week’s SBJ Coaches’ Roundtable posed that question. We invited local head coaches to share anything remarkable, funny, or frustrating they experienced during in-game conversations with the guys (and girls) wearing whistles and stripes. 

Every coach who replied expressed admiration for the game officials, who are essential to high school sports and yet are not paid well.  

“I wouldn’t want to do it, but I am glad they do,” said one coach who respectfully declined to provide any interaction he’s had with officials. Most of our coaches deferred specific response.  

Sports media who spend game nights on the sidelines have seen and heard a lot. Sometimes emotions go overboard. Sometimes there are light-hearted moments. But the motivations on both ends are pure – the coaches are doing their best for their teams, and the officials are doing their best to enforce the rules and assure safe and fair play. 

Four local coaches gave us insight. A couple didn’t have to go deep into their memories – they had something fresh that happened just last Friday night. 

ADAM KIRBY, Captain Shreve – “I asked for clarification on a rule one time and tried to make my point that he was wrong. He thought about it for like 5-10 seconds, looked at me and said, ‘Kirb, I messed that one up, but I’ll make it up to you later.’ All I could do was laugh and say, ‘sounds fair.’” 

REYNOLDS MOORE, Benton – “If I answer that honestly, the LHSAA might fine me!  

“This past week I felt like they hit (running back) Greg Manning out of bounds. He got shoved into one of our tents. I told the ref, ‘He got shoved into the tent.’  His response: ‘Move your tent.’” 

AUSTIN BROWN, Northwood – “They threw a flag on me Friday against Rummel for passionately telling them they were wrong. A little while later, for the first time ever, the white hat came and said I was correct.   

“Still waiting on my wife to admit that as well!” 

COY BROTHERTON, Parkway – “I can’t remember anything off the top of my head, but I’m sure if you asked the officials what’s the funniest they’ve heard from the coaches, the answers would be better.” 

Anybody up for “Referee Roundtable?”