Two winless California high school football teams were denied a shot at victory No. 1 on Friday when a five-man officiating crew refused to send a 28-28 tie between Temple City and Arcadia into an overtime.
Joe Conte, who is the San Gabriel Valley Football Officials Association liaison to the CIF Southern Section, met with the crew Tuesday night.
“I was almost in tears facing those guys,” Conte said. “I’m not going to sugarcoat it – our officials should have done a better job asking about overtime. They probably won’t sleep tonight. I can’t tell you how bad they feel. This has affected 85 of us.”
Conte explained that in non-league games – which this was – the host school officials normally tell the referees before the game begins if they want overtime, should it be needed. It never was mentioned and was not brought up when the score was tied at halftime.
He further noted that in California each league has its own rules concerning overtime and before each league game the referees automatically know if the rule will be employed.
“Unfortunately they were not told and they assumed there would be no overtime,” he noted. “At that point – in their minds – they thought there would be no overtimes in non-league games. It was a total misinterpretation and misunderstanding. It was wrong. They were very sorry and apologized (at the meeting).”
When the game ended in a tie, both coaches asked for an overtime and Conte conceded, “If the coaches agree, they should have played the overtime. Unfortunately, one of the officials made a flippant remark, ‘You can’t pay me enough to do overtime.’ The other four didn’t even know he had made the remark.”
Conte revealed that his association already has disciplined the veteran crew.
“We assured both schools that none of those officials would work their games this year and maybe next year," Conte said.
“First of all, there should (always) be overtime in football," Temple City coach Anthony White, who won the Wendy’s High School Heisman trophy in 1998, stressed. "It was a long, hard-fought football game and my kids wanted to continue. They didn’t give us an opportunity to respond and just ran off (the field). Everyone is just hungry for that first win. It kind of stung last week.”
“I just didn’t understand why they didn’t want to stay," Arcadia coach Jon Dimalante said. "It was unfortunate. I kind of get tired talking about it. I never saw anything like it (in 23 years of coaching). Maybe those guys were just having a bad night.”
Conte did recall a similar situation nearly 15 years earlier. “It was a misunderstanding again,” he admitted.
Miguel Melendez, who covered the game for the Pasadena Star-News, wrote, “The boisterous crowd showered the officiating crew with a chorus of boos as they jogged off the field and into the locker room.”
The veteran reporter told MaxPreps, “I feel the same way. The crowd was stunned in disbelief. I don’t think anybody expected what transpired.”
So, two winless teams will try again this weekend to put one mark in the victory column. One of them would have been celebrating its first victory had the overtime been played.
Dimalante probably had the best solution. He quipped, “We should have locked the gates on them.”