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Saturday, February 4, 2023
ArlingtonSportsCommentary: Penalties and huddles

Commentary: Penalties and huddles

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If it’s the early season in high-school football, that means two things. There will be multiple yellow penalty flags thrown all about in every game. Then, contest officials annoyingly often huddle to discuss the infractions before the yardage is stepped off and the ball is officially put back into play.

Penalties are so prevalent in early-season games because players are still learning, remembering or adjusting to all the rules, regarding what they can and can’t do. Of all the penalties, the most are whistled for holding and blocking in the back.

Sooooo many of those are called the first few weeks. It’s not uncommon for two teams to combine for close to 200 yards in penalties.

One wonders how many holding or blocking-in-the-back penalties the officials actually see but don’t always call early in the season. That certainly might be the case in blowout games.)


And what’s the deal with all of those huddles among officials after penalties are called? What are they discussing? A penalty is a penalty. Don’t they know the rules, and how much yardage goes with each infraction, or the specifics of each penalty? Maybe they are reviewing or double- checking all of that, since it’s still early in the season. As the season gets longer, penalties and those annoying huddles do tend to decline.

There were seven such huddles among the refs during one recent Saturday-afternoon game, all taking time and significantly adding to the length of the contest. One huddle lasted 4 minutes and 37 seconds, with all five officials involved at different points.  The officials determined that meeting was needed to work out the details for one particular penalty when there were four yellow flags and one official’s hat thrown on the field during an interception return.

That was very frustrating for the players, as they were fidgeting all about, just waiting and so badly just wanting to resume play.

PHOTO: The referees during a recent high-school football game huddle to talk about a penalty. (Photo by Dave Facinoli)

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