A quintet of referees from Lovell received a special honor recently when they were selected by the Wyoming High School Activities Association to referee one of the five state championship football games at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
The veteran of the group, Bruce Morrison, said the officials are members of the 307 Officials Association led by former longtime Lovell resident BJ Kidgell, now of Worland, and Chris Edwards of Lovell. The trio plus Greg Rael and Kevin Jones of Lovell refereed the Class 1A-6-man championship game between Guernsey-Sunrise and Dubois on Friday, Nov. 14, at noon.
“There are 10 or 11 officials in the association,” Morrison said. “BJ and Chris head it. You have to be registered and certified, which means you can do playoff games. Not all of our guys are certified. You have to have at least two years of experience and attend an officials camp.
“That has to be done every five years to keep your certification current. And each year we take an open book test to be a registered official.”
Kidgell was the lead official wearing the white hat Friday, and Jones was the umpire, Edwards the head linesman, Morrison the line judge and Rael the back judge.
“What’s really neat about this is that these are all the guys I got started,” Morrison said. “I helped them get into officiating and they complimented me by getting to this point and I got to go with them. Basically, we had five Lovell guys, and only five officiating crews are chosen to do those state championship games.
“BJ and Chris have been able to take it to a new level from where I took it for a long time. It was nice of ‘em to take the old man with them.”
Morrison has been refereeing football for 37 years, Edwards 16 years, Kidgell 14 years, Rael 12 and Jones eight.
The game itself was an offensive blitzkrieg as Guernsey-Sunrise won 80-30. With many big plays, the officials had better be in shape, because they are constantly sprinting the length of the field.
Six-man football is fun to officiate, Morrison said.
“The rules are different,” he said. “They start with 11-man rules and vary from it. Everybody’s eligible to catch a pass, and there are three on the line and three in the backfield. Whoever receives the snap can’t run but can pitch it or can throw. A lot of teams pitch to the running back, who pitches to the quarterback, who can throw or run.
“The scoring is different, too. Field goals are 4 points, extra points are 2 points and running extra points are 1 point. A Dubois kid drop-kicked their extra points.”
There tend to be fewer penalties called in a six-man game because the game is so wide open, Morrison said.
“It’s just really exciting to officiate,” he said. “You’re up and down the field a lot. It’s not boring at all. It’s just fast and exciting all the time.”
By David Peck