High school football coach sounds off on replacement ref controversy

WHITEFISH BAY -- Wisconsin high school football can get heated on Friday nights -- especially if there's a missed call like on Monday night during the Green Bay Packers vs. Seattle Seahawks game. It's the same game, but on a different level, and there are less referees on the field.

A typical Wednesday afternoon football practice at Whitefish Bay High School includes one hour of offense and one hour of defense, along with 20 minutes focused on special teams.

For the last 12 years, Jim Tietjen has served as the head football coach for the Blue Dukes. Tietjen says education has improved over the years in terms of teams and WIAA officials having a mutual understanding of the rules.

"I found my younger days and younger coaches reacting what today would be called inappropriate. We try to manage our kids before we get out there on Friday night so they understand the situation. Typically we have an officiating crew come and work with our kids in our summer camp for a couple hours, and go through things to say what they're doing," Tietjen said.

In terms of sportsmanship and comments from his players on social media, Tietjen said it's not an issue -- at least, not reaching a point like Monday night's controversy, with Packers' players like T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton not shying away from a few choice words about the replacement refs via social media.

"The moment our kids start to complain about that stuff, I point out the mistakes that they make on our film," Tietjen said.

Tietjen says mistakes do happen, and that's why head coaches evaluate officials after a game. Whitefish Bay High School will send game film to the WIAA office if there's a question about a certain call, but they cannot get any decision reversed.

"Maybe later on, those officials will be a little bit better in those situations to call the play the way that we see it," Tietjen said.

Tietjen said high school officiating is pretty solid for the most part, and because officials visit the teams before each season, it lets many feel at ease that there's not a "home ref" at any particular venue.

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