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Originally published: 2012-12-13 16:11:17
Last modified: 2012-12-13 16:11:17

Dunnigan to work Shrine Bowl as field judge

by Steve Behr Sports Editor

Watauga County will be at the Shrine Bowl Saturday. He’ll be the game official on the home side of the field in front of the press box.


That official, Bobby Dunnigan, earned the honor to be one of seven officials who will do the game. Dunnigan, who is also a baseball umpire, will be the field judge when the game, pitting the best prep football players from North Carolina against the best from South Carolina, begins at 1 p.m. at Gibbs Stadium at Wofford College.


Dunnigan has worked big games before. He was part of the officiating crew that worked the 2000 state 4-A championship, which Independence beat South View.


He’s also umpired in the Little League World Series, and has done five state semifinal football games.


“I’m very excited,” Dunnigan said. “The official booking agent informed me in the fall right before the season started.”


Dunnigan worked most of the season as a back judge, the official that is in the middle of the field 25 yards beyond the line of scrimmage. The field judge lines up about 20 yards from the line of scrimmage, but is on the home sideline.


His responsibility is to watch the widest wide receiver. The field judge makes sure the receivers don’t hold when blocking, and they have to be on the goal line in case a player scores a touchdown.


They also rule on pass interference plays, on fair catch interference plays, and they watch one of the uprights on field goal and extra point attempts.


Most crews are made up of five officials during the regular season. The Shrine Bowl uses seven officials. They are chosen from all over the state.


The crew meets on Thursday, and will review what they’ve studied over the course of the season.


“We’ve had the mechanics to study for a month,” Dunnigan said. “We’ve been studying our responsibilities and positioning. We’ll apply what we’ve been reading together as a group and try to start getting comfortable with each other.”


Dunnigan said the athletes in the game are on the same level as college athletes. The speed difference is likely to be the biggest difference from the regular season.


“I’m expecting very athletic players who have a lot of speed,” Dunnigan said. “We have to anticipate the faster pace of the game and the faster players. They’re faster than the typical high school team. They’re similar to a college game and there are a lot of Division I athletes.”