A Delaware-based football official received a death threat following a debated call in a game between Dover (Del.) High School and Smyrna (Del.) High School.
As reported by WDEL FM radio in Delaware, a controversial decision by game officials in the second quarter inspired a death threat to one of the officials working the game, according to DEL-MAR-VA Football Officials Association president James Duncan.
The play in question was understandably controversial; what appeared to be a 1-yard touchdown run by Smyrna was instead ruled a 100-yard touchdown return of a fumble by Dover when the football was stripped out of the goal line pile and return for a score.
You can see the controversial play below:
While the play was understandably the inspiration for significant consternation on the part of Smyrna players and coaches, the tenor that was set by those coaches may have contributed to the atmosphere that inspired the death threat. Smyrna head coach Mike Judy was ejected later in the game arguing a separate call, and offensive coordinate Mike Marks later offered the following incendiary comments about the touchdown:
“It’s been an embarrassment for a long time, and we’ve been able to overcome it because of how good our athletes have been.
“I hate watching it get taken from our kids like that.” “How do you look a bunch of 17-year-old in the eye, and say you got cheated. I’ve been barking up this tree for 3 years. I’ve coached around the country, and watched officiating crews. This is the most ridiculous thing I think I’ve ever seen.”
For his part, Duncan said he wished his officials had access to instant replay like their college or NFL counterparts, but steadfastly defended their performance.
“My guys on the field only get to see it in real time,” Duncan told WDEL. “All of the proper mechanics were followed. One of the main mechanics that we follow is that we don’t blow the whistle, unless we see the ball. What happens if we blow the whistle before we see the ball, an inadvertent whistle happens, as it did at another point in the game (on an onside kick). My guys followed the rule book, we don’t see the ball, we don’t blow the whistle.”