Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I've had very little chance to watch our Blue team play in games this year, aside from Coach Lee's highlight clip on YouTube a couple of weeks ago.

Last night I began converting the Blue team's DVD (thanks Dave Brown!) from their second game, and am uploading it to our protected site today. It should finish out sometime this afternoon. Click the 2010 Videos link over on the right side of this page to see what we've shot and uploaded this season. The Blue team's game Saturday was against Paola, and I was able to convert all but Paola's last two plays - a halfback pass incompletion, and another halfback pass for a short completion and tackle by Zach O.

Let me give you my quick impresssion - what a difference one year makes!

We knew that the Blue team had some good talent from last year in players like Eddie and Grant, and we knew that we had some brand new kids like Tommy, Dante, Julian, & Jack M. that looked ready to help right away. We also blended in a couple of kids with two years experience in another program, Shawn and Jacob H, and they've been very consistent performers for a relatively inexperienced team.

But do you recall an e-mail I sent to many of you about how excited I was for the second-year guys, and the progress that I thought they might make? Watching film of Jake, Zach, Colby, and Jarid was a real treat for me. Those guys are absolutely breaking out this season for the Blue team.  Michael B is another second year player - albeit this is his first year in the U.S. - and he has ramped way up from where he was this summer.

By moving to three teams, suddenly those guys that were very new last year now have very important roles, and are making key plays for a rapidly improving Blue team. Mix in the brand new tackle football guys - Dillon, Stewart, Halen, and Hunter - all of whom have big roles themselves and are producing, and the Blue team is really coming together.

I really enjoyed watching your game on film Ravens Blue. You were very impressive. All of us are really excited for you guys!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

One Block

Our black team gave up a touchdown to SME on a kick return.

It only took one block to spring him (click the pic for a closer look):

Excellent game anyway. And another good weekend for Blue and White as well - Blue with their first win, and White playing a one touchdown game against the highest scoring team in the league. Great job guys!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rules In Play

A few football rules have come into play this fall that are interesting to write about.

In week one the opponent for our black team was granted a 5th down (see Coach Lee's post below.)

We talked to the crew about the whole series of plays before the 5th down play was run, but they chose to grant the offense the play anyway.

We didn't make a big deal about it, other than to try to get the situation corrected before the 5th down snap. But the crew chose to leave the down marker as it was, having given Olathe South two 2nd down plays - one at the end of the first quarter, and the other at the beginning of the second quarter.

Turned out that it didn't hurt anything, but we spoke with the officials about it before the snap because we thought it was a correctable error. They told us in the conference pictured above that they knew they'd made a mistake with the down marker. But in our view, they then chose to fix that error by making another mistake. As an official, you hate it when you make a mistake. But you can seldom make things right by pretending that you didn't make a mistake. It probably should have been first down ONW, with referee apologies to Olathe South for having the down marker set incorrectly. Instead, we got the apology, and they got a 5th down.

In our White team's game last Saturday, our referee was giving our opponent's offense a little too much time in the huddle. We complained a bit, and he enforced a delay-of-game penalty for us on the next play when they took too long.

But then he started the clock.

To me, this was an obvious error. If the clock restarted after a delay of game penalty, any coach could virtually kill a game with repeated delays. And in fact of course, the clock procedure after delay IS in the rulebook under Rule 3 Section 4 Article 3-i.  I couldn't have told you that precise location before the game, but you can bet that I can tell anyone where it is today.

What was more interesting to me was the reaction of the various coaches on our sideline to this mistake as it happened. We were all fairly convinced that the ref had it wrong, just because it had to be wrong, based on an intuitive understanding of the game. And yet the ref and line judge both maintained that yes, it probably would be possible to run out much of the clock with repeated delay penalties.

I made a note of this on my evaluation form, as possibly being an exception to the generally pretty good job the officials did in that game. Then just as a follow-up (and to be sure I wasn't crazy) I checked the book, found the specific rule, and sent a quick e-mail to the league supervisor of officials about that and the 5th down situation I mentioned above. To my surprise the league supervisor admitted that he too would have started the clock after a delay penalty, but that in fact we were right about the rule.

I guess this rule must not be as intuitive as I thought, but I'm pretty sure our league knows how it works now.

Finally, I did a bit of research this summer about BBW - that's referee shorthand for 'block below the waist'. In high school football, Rule 9 Article 2 generally prohibits blocking below the waist, except down in the trenches under certain conditions.  However, blocking below the waist is defined within the definition of blocking (Rule 2 Section 3 Article 7) as "Blocking below the waist is making initial contact below the waist..." (my emphasis of the word initial.)

I wondered if this exception by description might allow a down-field punch block in the numbers, followed immediately by a cut technique below the waist. In fact, given the wording, I wondered why wouldn't ANY down-field low contact be OK if the blocker had initially contacted the defender above the waist.  Several other referees had written that contact had to be sustained to meet that exception - but I could not find the word sustained, continuous, or anything like it anywhere in the rulebook.

I had verbal and written conversations with multiple officials pointing out the absence of the language necessary for sustained contact, and was pretty convinced that I'd found a legal way to throw low blocks down the field. But as it turns out, I've since decided that such a technique would be illegal.

By definition blocking is 'obstructing by contact'. Once contact is broken, a blocker is no longer blocking, even if he is standing right beside the defender he just blocked. So the punch and cut technique down the field that I was envisioning would actually be TWO blocks. And the second block would be illegal.

To look at it another way, substitute the definition for the term blocking itself in the blocking below the waist description: "Obstructing by contact below the waist is making initial contact below the waist..." In other words, obstructing by contact can't be blocking below the waist unless it starts as blocking below the waist.

That's why experienced refs had written that the block had to be 'sustained.' If you start high and fall down in the process, sliding down the body of the defender - in fact if any number of different things happen that might seem to make the block illegal, including the guy turning his back on you during the sustained block - you're actually legal if you started legal.

There's a great discussion of NCAA low blocking right here.

Someday when my knees are completely shot (instead of only half shot as they are now) and I can't cope with being a soccer referee any more, I think it would be a great challenge to be a football official.  Until then I'll just work amateur hour on Saturdays from the sidelines.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Here's how you fill the Hole

Fifth down and less than one to go. Yes you read that right. Refs can't count. Terrell does a great job filling the hole! Coach Lee