S.C. official seeks high school football referees

For The Sun NewsApril 1, 2013 

Even in football rabid South Carolina, talk of the gridiron generally hits a lull between National Signing Day and spring practices.

Even fewer people are thinking about football officiating.

Bryan Murphy would like to help change that. The District 11 director of officials has launched another word-of-mouth campaign he hopes will boost numbers, thus improving the overall product on the fields around Horry, Georgetown and Williamsburg counties – the three he’s in charge of – come this fall.

In South Carolina, there are currently around 600 football officials accredited. At least 500 are needed every Friday.

“It’s down over the last few years,” Murphy said. “I think when I got in 10 years ago, we were around the 700 number. Across the state, we were a little old at that point. Guys retire and guys move to other parts of the state. We can’t put an ad in the paper; that doesn’t seem to work too well.”

The major problem is again interest. The deadline to apply to become a football official in South Carolina is July 1. So by the time football is on the front-burner in late July and early August, it’s too late.

Instead, Murphy has been actively pursuing potential new officials. The District 11 training meetings will begin April 15 at the Myrtle Beach Police Annex on the old Air Force base. Those will continue each Monday throughout the end of July, at which point the final clinic and certification exam will take place.

Murphy admits it is an arduous process, but one that can be well worth it – officials typically earn $42-$80 per game, depending on experience and game level.

Officials are encouraged to work as many games as possible throughout the week, and that includes sub-varsity and middle-school games. The potential for a decent supplemental income is there.

Murphy doesn’t necessarily want new officials to focus on the paychecks, but he also recognizes building his numbers up is more important.

In recent years, there hasn’t exactly been an influx of younger officials – guys who will be around for years to come.

“I think it’s more perception than actual,” Murphy said of the ages of his referees. “We do have some guys out there with some age. That can be good, because it means a lot of experience. But sometimes they move a little slower. The hardest thing for an official to do is [decide] when to walk away. These guys become our best buddies, and we hang out with them on and off the field. It’s hard to walk away. It does become a problem sometimes.”

An extended Q&A with Murphy is available on the Prep Talk Blog at MyrtleBeachOnline.com.

For information on the District 11 officiating – including new referee clinics, meeting schedule and fees – visit www.scfoa11.com.

Myrtle Beach’s Keane signs with CCU

Former Myrtle Beach quarterback Tyler Keane committed to Coastal Carolina, the university announced Monday.

Keane threw for 3,036 yards and 30 touchdowns this fall for the Seahawks after taking over the starting spot full-time. As a junior – when he split time with C.J. Cooper – Keane put up 1,588 yards and 24 touchdowns.

The left-handed quarterback opened plenty of eyes during Myrtle Beach’s game against Conway in September. During that contest alone, Keane set the school’s single-game mark for passing yards (520) while also tying the South Carolina High School League record with eight touchdown passes.

And while he was being pursued by a number of schools, proximity to what he already knew won out when it came time to commit.

“We’ve been talking on and off since the spring. The biggest thing was the closeness to home,” Keane said Monday. “I really just liked the feeling I got with the coaches. They made me feel at home.

“I took my official visits, and I went through all the schools. Eventually I came back to Coastal one more time. They made me feel like this was the place to be.”

Keane was drawing interest from a number of other NCAA Football Championship Subdivision and Division-II schools. The list included Cornell and Princeton, not a shock given a high school grade-point average somewhere around 4.5.

The work in the classroom, along with what he did with the Seahawk football team, opened up plenty of doors. He said he will be on a close to full academic scholarship. Technically, he will be considered a preferred walk-on at CCU, but since he does not have to travel, he will be able to participate with the team during summer workouts.

“I think that can give me an advantage learning the system,” Keane said. “Ultimately, I like the way their program is going. They said they’d give me the chance to compete, and that’s all I really want.”

Keane is the ninth player from the Myrtle Beach football team from last fall to lock in his college plans. Chocolate Wilson (Marshall), Sean Michael Orcutt (Limestone), Renard Pointer (Fairmont State), C.J. Cooper (Fairmont State), Jack Montgomery (Fairmont State), Octavius Thomas (Shepherd) and Trell Harrell (Hutchinson Community College) have all signed letters of intent agreeing to athletic scholarships. Keane and kicker Max Huggins (South Carolina) are considered preferred walk-ons at their schools.

Myrtle Beach coach Mickey Wilson said the school is going to hold a secondary signing day ceremony for those who had yet to make their decision prior to National Signing Day. The date for the next ceremony has not been set, although Wilson said it would happen sometime after spring break.

Mingo Bay tournament continues

The Mingo Bay baseball tournament resumes this week at 10 area schools, and the 76 teams involved should again provide for some solid games.

Aynor, Carolina Forest, Conway, Georgetown, Loris, Myrtle Beach, North Myrtle Beach, Socastee, St. James and Waccamaw will all be used as host sites, and all 10 of those programs will participate in the tournament. For the most part, the area teams’ games Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday will be the late games at all sites.

The one exception is North Myrtle Beach, which will play the next-to-last game every day.

Following the end of round-robin play on Thursday, the teams will be re-seeded for the tournament semifinals on Friday. The winners of those games will then meet in what is essentially four championship games on Saturday.

Socastee Athletic Director Tim Renfrow, one of the tournament’s organizers, said 16 teams participating in this week’s Mingo Bay tournament are not allowed by their respective high school leagues to play non-sanctioned teams. To keep them involved, they created a separate tournament (Mingo Bay 3) for those schools. The remaining 60 or so teams, including all 10 area squads playing this week, will be considered part of the Mingo Bay 2 tournament.

Last week’s games, which included only out-of-area schools, was considered Mingo Bay 1.

The full schedule for games Tuesday-Thursday is posted on the Prep Talk blog at MyrtleBeachOnline.com.

Contact IAN GUERIN at ian@ianguerin.com.

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