The mercury is still hitting the triple digit mark more days than not here in the Texas Panhandle. There is no crispness to our air as of yet. The leaves have not began to change. There is no frost on the pumpkins, and yet I feel as if Fall is but inched away.
Why? Because the kids have started back to school, which means in the afternoons you can hear that tell-tale pop of helmets echoing across the Texas landscape. Yep folks, it is time for some Friday night football.
Once upon a time, I donned the striped shirt each and every Friday to ref these games. I blogged about some of my more memorable reffing experiences back in 2007. That series of posts can be found here.
Given that Friday kicks off the 2011 high school football season here in Texas I thought I'd post another tale today.
I was down in the town of Plainview, Texas which is about an hour south of Amarillo. Game time was upon us so I strolled over to the visiting sideline and told the coach I needed a team captain for the coin toss.
Tho coach nodded and then turned back to his player. In very intense fashion he relayed these instructions.
"Okay, when the refs ask what you wanna do I want you to defer. If the other team one the coin toss and we can;t defer then we want to receive the ball. If we can;t receive because they wont he toss and elected to receive than we wanna kick from that end. Got it?"
The kid nodded.
"So one more time the coach said," Defer if you can. If you can;t defer we want to receive. If we can't defer or receive we wanna kick from that end."
"Got it coach," said the kid.
The coach sighed. "Repeat the choices back to me one more time."
I intervened. "Coach, we gotta have a captain. It's time to get started.
"Okay, okay," said, the coach. "Remember Jimmy Defer, receive, kick from that end. In that order."
I gritted my teeth. I'd never reffed a game from this particular team, but I certainly had never seen a coach so anal about the coin flip.
As the player and I walked to the center of the field the coach kept shouting out his instructions.
As we met at the fifty another official gave a few instructions and then told the kid I'd ushered out to "call it in the air."
As the shiny gold coin fluttered upward, the kid yells out "Defer!"
My fellow official snagged the coin and stared at the kid, "Son, you gottta call either heads or tails."
The kid looked horror stricken for a second and then turned to his sideline. "Coach, he says I can only say heads or tails! Which one should I pick!"
The coach shook his head and hollered back, "I don't give a Tinker's damn what you call just pick one!"
Again the coin arched skyward. This time the kids shouts, "Tails!"
"Tails it is," answered the other referee. "You've won the coin toss so the option is yours. What do ya'll wanna do?"
The kids smiled, raised his chin and proclaimed, "We wanna kick. From that end."
I grimaced. After all of the coach's instructions the kid had screwed up.
The other ref said, "You can kick alright but the other team gets to choose the end."
Choosing to kick meant the other team would get to choose at the opening of the second half. This meant the anal coach's squad would kick off and give up the ball to begin both halves of play.
I walked back to the sideline and said," Coach, I hate to tell this but y'all won the toss and your player chose to kickoff."
I expected the coach to blow a gasket but instead he smiled and and said to me, "Know what's really bad?"
When I shook my head, the coach said, " That is my smartest player."