Last Week, Andy and I were asked to appear on Across the Line by one of the hosts Chris Dobson and without much thought we jumped into action, arriving in studio at 7pm to go on the air at 7:30 PM. We didn’t have much detail about what we would be discussing, we just knew that we had 15 mins, we were going to be talking High School Football, and that someone there on set was really fired up about the current landscape.

So 7:30 PM comes and the next thing I know we are sitting on the set with Dobson and his co-host Kris Corey fielding questions about 10 man versus 12 man football, with the discussion centering around Harrison Trimble and their drop to the 10 man division.

During the somewhat heated discussion, someone made reference to 12-man football being “REAL football”, and that has really stirred things up in the local football community. I spent most of my morning dealing with questions, comments, as well as receiving feedback both positive and negative about our conversation with Across the Line.

First off, please understand that as a football official, I am always open to questions, comments, and negative feedback. I’ve gotten quite used to it and have received plenty of it from many of the folks I’ve been hearing from this morning over the last 12 years of being involved in Football.

That said, for the past 7 years I have been mainly officiating Friday Night high school games, and on Saturday’s I have been working the AUS/USports level either at Mount A or in Nova Scotia. That schedule has resulted in me being mainly involved in the 12 man division simply due to the fact all of Greater Moncton’s teams were playing 12 man Football. I can count on one hand how many 10 man games that I have worked prior to the 2018 season and as a result have not had much connection with the players, coaches, or the league. So far in 2018, I have worked three 10 Man games including 2 games for Harrison Trimble.

When I talk about Sackville being the best small Football town in Canada that is 100% because of the number of games I’ve officiated there over the years and the various levels. The fans are always out for the game in large numbers despite the size of the town, and they are some of the most passionate fans that I have seen. Plus, I do believe what I have seen Coach Scott O’Neal accomplish as a head coach is unmatched at this point of my officiating career. That said, in no way was this a comment to diminish programs in similar areas like Sussex, Miramichi, or St. Stephen. I just haven’t worked enough games in those areas to form that strong of an opinion.

In 2018, my podcast partner Andy Jardine and I started covering Local High School sports through our #FDSLocalSports program and through that medium I have become a fan of the 10 man league due in part to the great responses we’ve gotten from teams like St. Stephen, #CastorsNation, and numerous other schools as well. I am quickly learning plenty about this league, the players, and coaches. We have had nothing but positive comments on our programming and that will continue.

As for the whole 10 man vs 12 man discussion, that is a very emotional topic for many and I totally understand both sides of the conversation. Football is Football, I don’t care if you are the girls league playing 6 on 6, or the boys playing 10 or 12 man…. Its Football!! I have a good relationship with most coaches, I am very objective on the field as an official, and my communication with coaches and players is always a benefit to the game. Most of all, player safety is always my #1 priority.

One thing I know about any sport, especially Football, is that there are always hard-working volunteer coaches doing their best to get their team to the next level. There are also however, a lot of big egos in these coaching ranks and I often see them at their best and/or worst every weekend.

Our Episode on Across the line touched a couple nerves and that was not the intention of the conversation. Kris Corey is a Trimble grad and poured his heart and soul into playing football and coaching for the Trojans. Is he is allowed to have an opinion on the current team, YES, especially on his own show.

As for my opinion, as long as I am an official I will keep my opinions on High School sports pretty even.

2018 will continue to bring discussions on the 10 man and 12 man leagues that will cover schools like Bernice MacNaughton and Harrison Trimble, and their decisions to drop down to the 10 man league. And until there are rules in place by the NBIAA, this remains a decision that can be made by these programs.

At the end of the day, Football is about learning to play on a team, growing, believing in your ability and your teammates each weekend. These are the same principals our officials discuss each week as well.

What is the future of NB Football when it comes to this discussion is unknown at this point, but our team at FDS will do our best to bring you content and hopefully a discussion at the end of the season by some our local coaches about what’s best for this sport and the province.

Thanks for all your continued support of our podcast!!

Wray Dunn – Host (#36)
FirstDownSportsPodcast.com