Area referees step in at last minute to officiate game in District 9

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Thursday, October 11, 2018 | 9:42 PM


A referee shortage threatened to cancel a high school football game in the heart of District 9 on Friday, but a trio of local officials stepped up and made sure the game would go on as scheduled.

Lower Burrell resident Carl Arabia Jr., along with members of his officiating crew — Fawn Township’s John “Albie” Snyder and Butler’s David Lumley — will travel three hours to Emporium in Cameron County to work the game between Union-Rimersburg and Cameron County.

“It’s a long trip, but it will be fun,” said Arabia, the head official of the crew which officiates games predominantly in Clarion, Armstrong and Indiana counties.

Arabia, Snyder and Lumley each have several years of officiating experience under their belts. Arabia and Lumley have worked together for six years, and Snyder joined the crew this year when a couple members of the crew retired.

“I am more than willing to step in when I am available,” Arabia said. “That goes for guys in my crew. It’s an important game for both teams at this point in the season, and it’s extra special for Cameron County because it’s their senior night.”

Attempts to move the game to Thursday or Saturday were not possible. An offer from Union-Rimersburg athletic director Scott Kindel to move the game to Union wouldn’t have worked, he said, because of Cameron County’s senior night activities.

“So, I told them I would try to find some officials,” Kindel said. “It turned out to be one of those God-winked moments.”

Kindel, attending the final Pittsburgh Pirates home game with his family Sept. 23, ran into Arabia, who was working gameday security at the gate where the Kindel family arrived to enter PNC Park.

That quick meeting sparked correspondence from Kindel to Arabia a couple of days later to see if anyone from Arabia’s crew was available.

“It was another blessing that his crew was free this week,” Kindel said.

As Arabia checked to see if any of his crew was free to work the game, Cameron County athletic director Mark Guido contacted Kindel and said only three were needed. Three referees from the Cameron County area were available.

“It truly means a lot for the players and coaches of both teams that those three would volunteer to make the long trip to work this game,” Kindel said. “It’s an unbelievable act of kindness on their part.”

Arabia said fully meshing with the three other officials might take a little time, but he expects everything will work out in the end.

“I think those other officials are confident it will go well or they wouldn’t have agreed to work this game, too,” he said.

Arabia said he works directly with athletic directors to map out his crew’s game schedule well in advance. He said his crew already has games set for next season.

“The AD’s have next year’s schedule, and they turn around and give us those games,” Arabia said.

Michael Love is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MLove_Trib.

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