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Hey ref! Urgent need for more MIL officials

Shortage most dire in football, with season less than month away

Referee Michael Simmons looks on as Baldwin High School’s Daniel Corpuz is pursued by King Kekaulike’s Mau Pacheco during an MIL football game on Oct. 7, 2016. The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER file photo

With Maui Interscholastic League fall sports expected to begin competition in less than a month, there is an urgent need for more football referees.

Maui Football Officials Association president Joe Apolo and vice president Lionel Montalvo both said there are 10 members of the group — 11 are needed to fully staff a varsity game.

If junior varsity games are played this fall — still a big question as teams wait to see how many players will return after the current pause for players, coaches, volunteers and officials to get fully vaccinated for COVID-19 — there will be up to four games total each weekend of the season.

Although schedules have not been released, the MIL is expected to begin its 10-week regular season for football starting on Oct. 15.

“We would have enough, but not that much,” Apolo said. “We don’t have that much people like we had before.”

Apolo hopes to use Maui Pop Warner games that begin soon to develop some new talent for the job. Apolo is 80 years old and says he is done with on-field refereeing, but will probably run the clock for games.

“We’re going to try to recruit people interested in officiating to come to the Pop Warner games,” Apolo said. “We need more people for sure.”

Apolo said anyone interested in becoming an official can call him at (808) 281-6481 and he will help them get started. The MFOA has weekly meetings during the season on Tuesday nights at Baldwin High School.

At 61 years old, Montalvo said doing JV and varsity games back-to-back two days in a row is hard to keep up with.

The crew of 11 includes three on the first-down chains, two in the booth to run game and play clocks, and six on the field.

“We’re not young here, that’s the thing,” Montalvo said. “When I first started it was kind of exciting to do a JV and varsity game back-to-back, but now most of us are older. We will do it because we have to, but it’s better to have fresh legs and fresh people out there.

“If anything, now would be a good time to get involved.”

Of the 10 current MFOA officials, eight are vaccinated while the other two will seek either medical or religious exemptions, Apolo and Montalvo said.

Mike Yasak, the head referee of Volleyball Officials of Maui, said his group is in good shape for the upcoming girls volleyball season with nine certified officials, including two new members who recently moved to Maui from the Mainland.

Yasak said two referees are assigned to every regular-season MIL Division I match, while Division II matches also use VOOM officials for Maui Prep, St. Anthony, Haleakala Waldorf and Seabury Hall home matches.

Hana, Molokai and Lanai have their own officials who are not VOOM members.

“We actually have a couple guys from the Mainland who are willing to help out, so we are in pretty good shape,” Yasak said. “All of our officials are vaccinated. We have like nine, which is pretty good.”

Yasak credited Georgie Rocha with helping out with the assignments.

“We’ve been doing this for 15 years,” Yasak said. “I couldn’t do it without her.”

When MIL tournaments roll around, Yasak said, “We have to provide all six of the officials and that can be a little stretch.”

During regular-season matches, VOOM provides the two officials at the net, while linesmen and scorekeepers are provided by the host school.

“We’ve got a fairly established group of people,” Yasak said. “We were planning to start in September, so we’re ready.”

* Robert Collias is at rcollias@mauinews.com.

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