Game Day is Near

I was not on the roster last week when the Atlantic University Sport Football season kicked off, as I had a full plate with all of our Touchdown Atlantic events.

Week 2 takes place tomorrow and I will be on the field officiating at Mount Allison for their game against the the Saint Mary’s Huskies. There are number of things that go into getting an assignment:

  1. Know your position – Back Judge, working mainly with the WR’s and DB’s
  2. Know who is in your Crew – I always have a great crew of NB and NS officials, no worries there!
  3. Know who your partners are for the game – My Line Judge and Field Judge will be my primary partners on most plays
  4. Know the Coaching Staffs – I have worked many games with both Coaches and know what they will be looking for from us officials.
  5. Know the Players – Have a good idea of the players in the game and what to expect from them throughout the day
  6. Know the types of plays that will be handled in your Zone – primarily the passing game and kicking game for me
  7. Know the types of fouls you may see – Pass Interference both Offense and Defense, Illegal Contact, Holding, Blocking below the Waist, etc.

There are many items that an official must check off their list as they prepare for the game. We all receive a weekly memo that breaks down important items heading into the week. Additionally, this week there are 44 plays to review from the previous week’s games. There are new rules this year in the AUS when it comes to blocking, including the Blind Side block that we must be familiar with.

Another big change this year at the AUS level, is that officials will wear headsets to help with communication on the field. This changes many things… Let me explain:

On a play in the past, I would be responsible to cover the play, make a call if there is one to be made, blow the whistle to end the play, and then continue to officiate and communicate with players, coaches, and the other officials to get everyone back to their huddles. I would then report to our White Hat any issues that occurred so he can report the penalty. The time it takes to get to your official gives you a little time to process what took place, so you can give your accurate details.

Now that we have our radios, this information will be sent in right away, giving very little time for an official to process what just took place on the field. There are some very important details you must know when throwing your Orange Flag:

  1. What is the Penalty?
  2. Which team committed the penalty?
  3. The player’s number.
  4. Where was the ball?
  5. Did the penalty occur before or after a 1st down was made?
  6. Where is the spot that the penalty occurred?

There can be many other variables but I think you get my point. There is a lot of information to communicate and in the past we have always had a few seconds to process everything before communicating it to the referee.

My biggest source of stress heading into tomorrow’s game is how I will handle the new radio communication between my officials. Like anything new, there will be an adjustment period and by the end of the season my supervisors will most likely be giving me the list of what I am not allowed to do on the radios!!!

Before working a Regular season game, I like to have a couple exhibitions under my belt so I’m comfortable with the speed of the game for the regular season. Well that didn’t work out for me this year, and I am hitting the ground cold and it will likely take me a few plays to get adjusted.

There is a lot of pressure working a University game. The game is being filmed and televised on AUSTV.ca, and there are more staff members and players on the sidelines than at any other level. There will be many people in the stands including some of my friends, family, and of course my wife GiniB. I take this level very seriously as I know there are coaching staffs that are making their living coaching the sport. A lot can depend on their Win/Loss record, so I want to make sure that I put forth in my best effort for each game.

You have heard me in the past promote the AUS Football league, and tomorrow’s game between the Mounties and the Huskies is bound to be a good one. So do yourself a favour and make the drive to Sackville for some great Canadian Football!!!

Last but not least remember, if you feel the need to yell at official #36… It is my birthday so go easy!!!

Enjoy the game!!

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