Points of Emphasis

CFOA Central Florida Officials Association
Pre-season Points of Emphasis

August 23, 2010

The 2010 football season is here at last, are you ready? Not only should you know the rules and mechanics, but are you physically fit to work 4 quarters of football? Looking at the forecast for the next two months - it’s going to be hot and humid followed by more hot and humid weather. If you are not in shape I suggest you start today and at least start walking and exercising before Friday’s kickoff classics. These games are regular contest and you will be wearing full uniform and working 12 minute quarters. No shorts!!

This year’s changes for CFOA Officials

Coin Toss Mechanics: For the 2010 season the FHSAA is allowing the CFOA to alter the coin toss mechanics as a trial to better control pre-game unsportsmanlike acts.

  1. The referee and umpire at 7 minutes before kickoff will enter the field from their respective sideline and meet at mid-field and take a position at each 45 yard line. Only 4 players from each team can be on the field for the coin toss. The only non-players that are allowed at the coin toss will be an honorary person to do the coin toss and a cameraman. All other school personnel are to stay on their sideline or in their respective end zones or sidelines. The referee will have his back to the scoreboard this year per the FHSAA.
  2. The Line Judge home team sideline and Back Judge visitor’s sideline will escort only 4 captains from their sidelines, five minutes before the kickoff, to the hash marks and release them to the referee and umpire. The LJ and BJ will then return to their sideline and keep all players, non-players and coaches off the field during the coin toss. This means no players can be at the hash marks once the referee and umpire have taken their position at mid-field. Unfortunately, this also means that the teams cannot send out seniors to the hash marks as additional game captains or for the purpose of intimidating the other team.
  3. The Band should be through with their pre-game program no later than 7:23 or 7 minutes before kickoff. The band and other groups are to be in their end zones or off the field during the coin toss. Teams are still allowed to run out of the end zone but must go to their sidelines as soon as they clear the end zone. They should not be past their 20 yard lines when coming on the field. The referee and umpire are in the middle of the field to make sure no teams come to the center of the field for a celebration or to plant a flag or stomp the team’s logo. The NFHS and the FHSAA have determined that these types of acts cause ill will and foster unsportsmanlike act that lead to problems during the game.
  4. This year’s referee’s game report has a box at the bottom of the first page to note any problems that may have occurred or that you stopped before the coin toss. If there is a problem at a game, please report it and if needed use the comment section to give details. I will be reporting the findings to the FHSAA in this test program. Your cooperation and adherence to this mechanic is required. If there is a problem, use your judgment in handling the situation for the betterment of the contest. Report your finding so we can contact the school and the AD to rectify the problem. I think you will find after the first two or three weeks we will not have any problems.
  5. 4 man crew will use the same mechanics, except, the referee will go out 7 minutes early and the Umpire will escort the visiting team out to the middle of the field if the LM is still working with his chain crew. In most cases the chain crew for a FR or JV game show up right before kickoff. There are still only 4 captains allowed for the coin toss from each team. The same standards apply to these games.

Penalty Reporting

  1. Each official will report the penalties they call. At the end of the game the officials will give the penalty card to the referee who will transfer to the referee’s report and transmit it to me by e-mail or fax. The official should get the following information :
  • Time on game clock when foul occurred
  • Quarter
  • Player number
  • Foul committed
  • Team that committed the foul - home or visitor
  • Was the team on - offense or defense
  • Accepted or declined 8. Ejection

The referee will have to allow for the calling official to record his penalty. As soon as the calling official gives the information to the referee they should record the information on their game card. This will take concentration on your part and attention to player numbers when calling a foul.

Clock Operators: Uniform requirements

  1. This year all field qualified clock operators will wear full uniforms to the game. This also includes wearing cleats, whistle, hat, bean bag, down indicator band and flag. Field qualified would mean you made a 75 or better on the open or closed book test, not suspended by the FHSAA or CFOA and not injured and unable to work on the field. There will no exceptions to the uniform rule this year. We tried letting the clock operators not wear full uniform but that proved to be a mistake. Some officials took this as an “I can wear whatever I want” and sometimes it looked pretty ragged and did not represent the CFOA in a very good light.
  2. Clock Operator only. If you registered as a clock operator only, your uniform will be: a striped official’s shirt with front pocket and collar with all appropriate patches, black or dark colored slacks (no shorts), closed toe shoes. This means no sandles, clogs or flips flops.
  3. Needless to say, if you are a clock operator, you need to have a count down timer with you that works. Pay attention to the game and do not discuss with others in the press box the quality of officiating or whether a call was right or wrong. You can make or break a game by screwing up the clock. Your job is just as important as that of the officials on the field.
  4. You are to follow the referee’s directions even if he starts or stops the clock at the wrong times. He may start the clock after a timeout or the ball going out of bounds; it is his call not yours. As the referee, he may have a reason for doing this or just make a mistake, but you are to follow his instructions. It is easier for the referee to explain his mistake than have to explain why the clock operator did something different than the referee directed.


  1. You are to take your spot off the official that has the end of the run/forward progress. I have heard this week from several umpires that they were told to always take the spot off the line judge no matter where the run ended, this is incorrect. The umpire will take the forward progress from the official who has the end of the run. The only exception to this is on an obvious first down. The umpire will get the spot from the line judge if he is in a position to echo the end of the run if the linesman has the spot. The umpire will communicate with the end men to make sure the other official has the end of the run before releasing the lineman. It is the responsibility of the end man to make sure they keep the end of the run until they are sure the umpire or another official has the spot.
  2. The umpire will assist in getting the ball back into play even if it means you have to go outside the hash marks. If it is a long incomplete pass down field you will go out and get the ball from the back judge or deep official and relay it in to the referee, who will then spot the ball.

Linesman and Line Judge

  1. We are now working off the field on all live ball plays. This means that you will work in the 2 yard belt, now referred to as the restricted zone. This is a safety rule as well as one that will give you a better view of the play and players. For too many years high school end men have been cheating into the numbers or closer. From watching film the NFHS and the FHSAA and others have noted that officials that work on the field and are too close to plays, oftentimes miss illegal acts. Most of the time you are retreating and your back is to the play because you are trying to get out of the way. Some of you have gotten away with it, or thought you have, but as players get faster and bigger you can no longer keep up. You may think (it’s only in your mind) that you are keeping up, but look at the film and you will see how far behind or out of position you really are.
  2. Once the play is over you are to come in and get the end of the run, which means at times you will have to come in hard and sell the spot especially if it is close. If the ball is on the far side of the field from you, come to the top of the numbers and echo the end man across from you.
  3. Square in after the play before coming in to get the spot. Get under control before stopping the clock or giving a touchdown signal.
  4. See the ball before blowing your whistle. This goes for all officials, and we do not need backup or echo whistles once a play is over. Blow your whistle hard - not a bunch of short weak chirps.

Back Judge

  1. Stay in the game, don’t go to sleep. You are the only person on the crew that gets to watch the game most of the time. Help your fellow officials with ball rotation and give encouragement and praise to an official that has made a good call.
  2. Count the defense every play; what else do you have to do besides the 25 second count.
  3. Know the kicking game.
  4. Talking to the band director is important this season. Each week we need to remind them they need to finish the pre-game program earlier and clear the field for the coin toss, especially the coin toss area.
  5. Remember the new coin toss mechanics.

Points of Emphasis

  1. Casts - no note is needed this season. The umpire is only required to make sure it is properly padded.
  2. Concussion - if a player is sent out for a concussion or suspected concussion it is the team’s responsibility to get him or her medical clearance to come back in the game. We do not need a note from the player to reenter the game.
  3. Illegal helmet contact - this is once again a point of emphasis. The concern with concussions and helmet contact go hand in hand. Usually with one you have the other. Be alert for the player sticking the facemask in the runner chest or in the face of the runner on a tackle. Look for the late hit or a defenseless players being held up and another player leading with his helmet to punish the runner.
  4. Assisting the runner - this is one we have seen and not called in the past. Read the rule on this and make sure you understand it. Pushing the blockers is not aiding the runner.
  5. Horse collar - read the rule for clarification. It has been amended to give a clearer definition.
  6. Adornments - players still cannot wear the rubber bands; wrist bands other than at the base of the hand and no more than 3 inches above the wrist, game card must be worn on the arm, no long belts hanging down or belts with tape to create stripes. This year spats are allowed but must be one color and worn as intended. Pants must have knee pads and cover the knees.
  7. Contact with non-players in the restricted zone or 2 yard belt - this deals with coaches, players, trainers, managers and others in the team box. End men you need to be running in that 2 yard belt from the start to the finish of the game. You can run on the sideline but keep the belt clear. Do not wait until the 4th quarter to start working the sideline and then have a problem with players and coaches in the team box. You will not run into anyone if you set the tone early in the game. This rule does not pertain to others around the field such as reporters, TV cameramen and spectators around the field. The referee should notify the AD if these people are getting in the way and have them removed are make sure they stay behind the 2 yard belt.

I know I have covered a lot of information, but it is important that we start the season off on the right foot. We all need to be consistent in enforcing the rules. You may not agree with a rule or mechanic but we cannot pick and choose what rules we want to call and those we do not. Our job as officials is to make sure the game is played fairly and within the rules set forth by the NFHS and the FHSAA.

Our Monday night call for referees will start Monday August 30th. Please have your reports in to me by Sunday evening at the latest. A new referee’s reporting form will be posted on the CFOA web page this coming Monday. Please e-mail or Fax the report in to me. Please use the report on the CFOA web site, it makes it easier for me to compile the information. Let’s start the season off right and keep the mistakes down to a minimum. Having a good pre-game usually translates in to a great game. Please direct all questions to me so I can get clarification and post it on the weekly game re-cap summary.

Mitch Fazzio
Director of Referees

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