Five area officials to work state finals
MAHOMET – Heath Grote anticipated he might get the call to officiate one of the eight IHSA state championship football games this weekend at Memorial Stadium. And the 21-year veteran official did – he'll be on the field for Friday's final game, the Class 4A game between Addison Driscoll and Bloomington Central Catholic. But the way the news was passed down to him was more of a shock than the actual message.
"The news actually came in the mail," Grote said. "The IHSA usually does about everything it can over the Web, so to get it in the mail was kind of odd."
Regardless of how the news came down, Grote and the rest of his crew – Rod Bachman of Mahomet, Carlos Burton of Farmer City, Joe Rix of Champaign and Dave Dupre of Savoy – are excited at the opportunity to officiate a game on the IHSA's biggest stage. They have 127 years of combined experience, but this will be the first time any of them have called a state title game.
"This is an ultimate thing for a high school official, that's for sure," Grote said. "We're all pretty honored to have the opportunity."
There are a number of criteria officials must meet in order to be selected to work a state championship game, but the opinions of high school coaches and athletic directors carry the most weight.
Each game, crews are evaluated by the participating schools and officials receive points based on how they performed. The IHSA also sent some members to Saturday's Class 3A semifinal game between Greenville and Columbia, which Grote and Co. officiated.
"It's pretty rewarding knowing that people have seen us work and think highly enough to select us," Grote said.