When the season kicks off every September, the goal of every football team in Nebraska is to run out on Memorial Field in Lincoln for the state championship games on Thanksgiving week. The battles are competitive each week and by the time all is said and done, only two teams are able to see that goal through to the end.
The same can be said for a less-heralded group of men on the field - the referees.
Just as it is an honor for the teams to earn a spot in the state title game, it is an honor for the referees on the field to be selected to officiate the games. The crew of Steve Arehart, Aaron Krueger, Steve Hankla, Jeremy Woeppel and Paul Burbach were fortunate to earn there spot this year as they managed the D2 championship game on November 20.
“They come out and give you an evaluation. The NSAA comes and gives you a list of what they are looking for and from there its up to the evaluator and the NSAA,” explained Arehart on the process it took to earn a spot.
The experience was a first time for Arehart, who said it came as a pleasant surprise.
“It was exciting to go down,” he explained. “It was totally unexpected.”
Once there, the crew did everything they could to take in the experience. They enjoyed everything on the sidelines in the early game and familiarized themselves with the slight rule changes from a normal night. Even for season veterans such as themselves, the whole experience was one of excitement and nerves.
“The nerves weren’t too bad,” joked Arehart. “Right before when you look at the screen and its on TV, it was interesting. But once you get on the field, its the same routine.”