The referees completely worked over Dwyer High School in what may be their biggest game of the year this Labor Day weekend.
The varsity football
Despite the large stakes, Ohio officials repeatedly wronged Dwyer in the final minutes of the game. There were two completely blown calls and a third bit of incredibly weak officiating.
With less than two minutes to play, down by four, Dwyer quarterback Jacoby Brissett hit receiver Tommylee Lewis with a perfectly thrown ball in the back of the end zone. Lewis secured it midair and came to the ground first with his knee -- clearly in bounds.
The catch would have counted in college and in the pros (one knee = two feet), but after a few seconds of hesitation, the closest official called it incomplete. It was disgusting.
Though ESPN had presumably millions of dollars in sponsorship, thousands of feet of cable, and dozens of high-def cameras around the Ohio State stadium, the refs didn't have the benefit of instant replay. So as a national audience, sitting on their couches at home, could see it was clearly a touchdown (one commentator called it "an outstanding catch"), the bad call stood.
Then things got worse. Dwyer completed several big passes and moved the ball down inside Glenville's five-yard line. In the final drive, Brissett led the team 78 yards down the field in 14 plays, taking less than five minutes. The team converted three separate fourth downs. But with second and goal from the two, with 21 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, Brissett rushed into a large pile at the goal line. The entire pile was clearly in the end zone.
After several seconds of hesitation, one official finally called it third down, but by then, the clock had wound down to six seconds. They weren't even able to spot the ball before the clock ran out.
We wrote a feature article two years ago about one of these high-pressure ESPN interstate games between Cypress Bay in Weston and Katy High School outside Houston. They are very much a vehicle for ESPN to eventually profit from marketing the lifestyles of the young athletes.
From that article:
ESPN RISE, a new company brand, is devoted to high schools.
"I think it's untapped on the sports side," says James Brown, the senior vice president at RISE, which is aimed at growing the station's 12- to 17-year-old audience. "It gives us an opportunity to not only talk about what they do on the field but also what's going on in their lifestyle, what shoes do they wear, what music they listen to, what kind of things they do in the community."
Sports psychiatrist Mike Miletic sees trouble.
"The kids begin to have a feeling that they have to perform and win but it isn't all for them," he says. "Some of the downfalls of that, aside from the obvious, the kid begins to lose a sense of himself, as being able to be somebody who has the freedom to develop himself in other ways."
Within hours of the game, there was already a Facebook group called: "Fuck Cleveland Glenville High, Dwyer Panthers So Won That Shit!" It already has nearly 1,000 members.