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Mike Forman: Officials blew it in Edna-Blanco playoff game

By Victoria Advocate
Nov. 26, 2011 at 5:26 a.m.
Updated Nov. 27, 2011 at 5:27 a.m.

Senior wide receiver Darius Callies holds his head at the end of the 21-20 lose against Blanco on Nov. 12.

A Harvard defensive back intercepted a pass and ran it back for a touchdown to put a cap on his team's 45-7 win over rival Yale.

The highlight, which was shown on ESPN, was nothing out of the ordinary, but something the defensive back did caught my eye.

Just before entering the end zone, he raised his hand with his index finger extended.

I have seen players do it a number of times, but what I didn't see was an official throwing a penalty flag.

The same could not be said for Darius Callies during Edna's Class 2A, Division I bi-district playoff game against Blanco at Bear Stadium in La Vernia.

Callies caught a swing pass from quarterback Austin Kelley late in the third quarter and ran into the end zone for what appeared to be a 60-yard touchdown reception.

Obviously excited about his catch, Callies raised his index finger at about the 3-yard line in celebration at the score would have given the Cowboys a 26-21 lead pending the extra-point attempt.

But shortly after Callies raised his hand, an official from the Corpus Christi chapter threw a flag.

He was called for unsportsmanlike conduct and under rules adopted this year, the touchdown was nullified and a 15-yard penalty was assessed from the spot of the foul, putting the ball at the 18-yard line. Edna fumbled two plays later and never scored again, losing 21-20.

As I watched from the press box, I thought the call seemed strange.

The intent of the rule is to prevent taunting or excessive celebration, neither of which occurred.

Edna coach Mike Pierce questioned the call and remained calm when I interviewed him after the game. But his comment caught my attention.

"They did the same thing down on this end," Pierce said as he stood in the north end zone. "Nothing was called, it was not fair. That's the call the officials got to make and you've got to play with the referees and we've got to go on that."

I seemed to remember a Blanco player doing some kind of pointing as he went into the end zone, but I was not entirely sure, so I didn't want to make a judgment or include it in my game story.

My opinion changed when a reader from Edna emailed a link to a video that showed Blanco's Tyler Brown raising his hand before he crossed into the end zone after catching a pass in the second quarter.

Pierce was correct, no flag was thrown. The lack of a call on the Blanco player only made the penalty on Edna more egregious.

"In the 27 years that I've been coaching," Pierce said, "that's the worst call I've seen made in a high school football game."

Pierce was not alone. I received emails from around the state wondering why an official would make such a call.

To Pierce's credit, he has not used the call as an excuse for Edna losing the game.

"Whether we would have won or lost, I don't know," he said. "It sure would have helped."

What bothers Pierce is the memories Callies will take away from his final high school football game.

"It's a sad thing," Pierce said. "The kid has to live with that the rest of his life."

The coach said people in Edna sent the video to the Corpus Christi chapter. He knows it's too late to do anything about the penalty, but hopes it can prevent a similar call in the future.

Pierce and his players have a right to be disappointed. They, not the officials, should determine the outcome of a game.

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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