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48 HOURS OF FOOTBALL: Five high school football referees prepare for Friday's game

Friday, October 28, 2011 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 8:37 a.m. CDT, Friday, October 28, 2011
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Friday night's high school football game between Rock Bridge and Blue Springs South played out under the close watch of the five-man officiating crew assigned to watch over the game. For Gary Anspach, Greg Reynolds, Paul Corpening, Terry Gildehaus and James Smith, officiating games offers a chance to stay close to the sports they love and help young athletes as well.

Hour 1: 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 21

The officiating crew for Friday gets ready in Room 409.

In two hours, when the sun sinks and the lights above the Rock Bridge football field come on, the five men will make sure the game between the Bruins and Blue Springs South runs smoothly.

Greg Reynolds will wear the headset and explain penalties to the crowd over the scoreboard speaker.

Gary Anspach and Terry Gildehaus will watch the sides of the field to make sure players are lined up properly.

Paul Corpening will stand behind the defense and keep an eye out for pass interference.

James Smith will be square in the middle and watch for false starts and offsides while trying not to get run over.

But now the sun is still early in its setting. Their striped shirts are still folded and their black athletic shoes are not yet polished. The lights above the field haven’t been turned on. As they sit around the classroom turned makeshift locker room, there’s time for stories.

Between the five of them, they share 97 years of officiating experience. They’ve done everything from middle school football to minor league baseball. They’ve nearly seen it all.

There was the time in Kansas City when police had to escort Reynolds out of town after a game turned bad. He won’t tell you exactly where it was, but he will tell you it took him a while to get over it.

There was the time Corpening saw current NFL Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman play high school football for Grandview. He could tell the player was special, just like he could tell Justin Gage and Justin Smith, former Jefferson City players now in the NFL, were special.

There was the time Smith nearly got landed on by a man who parachuted onto the field before the start of a game in Macon. The man had been told not to jump. He did it anyway.

They shake their heads at some of the memories now. They laugh about the good ones.

They've nearly seen it all, but every game brings the chance for something new.

“I’ve worked 37 years, and there may be something that goes on tonight that I’ve never seen before,” Reynolds said.

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