The 2022 Central Virginia high school football season won’t start for another four months, but it’s shaping up to be unlike any other in recent memory.
Friday nights in the fall have become sacred for high school football fans, but they may have to choose another night this year to see their favorite team.
Because of a shortage of football officials, games may be rescheduled for Thursdays or Saturdays to guarantee that each game is appropriately covered.
Danny Denton, a recruiter for the Central Virginia Football Officials Association, stated, “We’ve always had close to enough individuals [to officiate games]” (CVFOA). “However, we’ve never had to transfer a large number of games to Thursday evenings.” Never.”
At least seven officials should be on the field to effectively referee a high school varsity game. A referee, an umpire, a head linesman, a line judge, a back judge, a side judge, and a field judge are all involved in the game.
Some games are being refereed with just six or five referees each game due to a shortage of officials.
The CVFOA is responsible for games in the Northern Neck, Central Virginia, Emporia, and Amelia County.
On average, 35 games are planned on Friday evenings. With seven officials each game, a total of 245 officials are involved. Currently, there are roughly 150 active officials in the CVFOA.
Denton confessed, “We don’t have enough officials for Friday night games.”
When the CVFOA met with sports directors in January, they were told that if the official numbers didn’t increase, games would have to be shifted to Thursdays or Saturdays.
“It doesn’t sit well with us.” Denton said, “[Athletic Directors] aren’t thrilled about it.” “On Friday night, they’re going to lose a lot of their gate [ticket money].”
“I’m hoping the financial damage isn’t too severe,” Manchester athletic director Greg Woodle said. “A major part of it is football ticket sales.”
Because of an official shortage, Woodle revealed that the Lancers had already shifted their Senior Night game versus Huguenot to a Thursday night later this autumn.
Other schools have had scheduling challenges as well, although some, like Thomas Dale, have been able to avoid having to change their Friday night engagements. With competition from college games and an estimated 10% to 15% of high school officials who also work those college games, moving to Saturdays is an even less appealing choice.
JV and rec league games, which utilize the same referees, may have to be shifted to Monday and Tuesday evenings.
“It’s possible that we’ll be playing games every night of the week,” Denton said.
The CVFOA is looking for new officials and will have an information session on Saturday, May 7 at 9:30 a.m. at Varina High School. Training begins on June 14 and continues until the start of the autumn season. On Saturdays, officials earn $90 for varsity games, $70 for JV games, and roughly $50 for kids league games.