December 2, 2009

Controversial call sparks replay debate in HS

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States routinely move their state championship football games to college and pro sites to give them a big-time feel.

It makes some wonder, will they ever get to make use of a big-time aide: Instant Replay.

The question seems to raise itself almost every season. This year, it happened in Indiana last weekend during the 5A final at Lucas Oil Field, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

Controversial Champs
Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central won a hard fought game over Carmel (Ind.) High. Check out the photo gallery from our media partner,
Indianapolis (Ind.) Warren Central sent its game with Carmel (Ind.) into overtime thanks to a disputed call - one that would have been reviewable during a Colts game - on the final play of regulation.

Warren went on to win in two overtimes.

Whether the Warren receiver was inbounds for the catch was a point of contention - one the fans in the stands debated when the play was shown on the replay board. But while everyone at the stadium could watch the replay, the ruling on the field could not be overturned.

Carmel coach Mo Moriarity wished it could be.

Moriarity, who lost in the state final for the second consecutive year, told The Indianapolis Star that this loss was harder to take.

"Last year, we just came up a little short,'' he said. "But you know how you feel when you've had something stolen?

"Well, that's how I feel. We had it stolen.''

Adding replay to high school games won't be easy. And can't take place until 2011 at the earliest. Here's what would need to happen.

Indiana, along with every state in the country except Texas and Massachusetts, plays by the rules set forth by the National Federation of High Schools. In order to add replay, a rule would need to be proposed, discussed then ratified by the NFHS's 52-member football committee.

The committee, comprised essentially of a voting member of each state, meets in January - but it is too late to put such a proposal on the agenda.

Even if it could, NFHS assistant director Bob Colgate, wonders logistically how it would work.

"Not all of our state associations play their finals in NFL and college venues,'' he said. "A lot are still at home sites. You have to look at your facilities. The logistics make it more conducive at some sites than at others."

Colgate doesn't believe the use of replay has ever been proposed.

Colgate, however, said it would be possible for the NFHS to enact legislation that would leave it up to member associations on whether they could use replay. Such a scenario exists in basketball, where states decide if they have the proper setup to use replay.

River Ridge (La.) John Curtis football coach Jeff Curtis is in favor of giving it - or anything - a try.

"Anything that can better the game, I'm all for it,'' he said.

Curtis referenced another technological aide that coaches first only got in the state finals.

"Back in the day when headsets/headphones weren't prevalent to coaches and their staffs in high school, the Superdome offered headsets to all teams to use at their discretion,'' he said.

His team, ranked No. 36 in this week's RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings, would play in the Superdome - and with its big replay board - should it advance to the Louisiana 2A final in two weeks.

Carmel fell out of the Top 100 with its disputed loss. But don't think the players on the team are still angry about the outcome. Some took it as part of the game.

"My first thought was he was out, but the ref called it,'' star linebacker Brian East told the Star. "Stuff like that happens. If we deserved the state championship, we would have fought through it.''

-- Tom Bergeron and Dallas Jackson contributed to this story

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