I am very rarely one to blame the refs.

We’ve all heard coaches say, “We shouldn’t have let it come down to one play; we can never let the refs decide it.” And I agree with that. Play better throughout four quarters and it’s rare the referees can do so wrong, a game will be decided by them.

That being said, it’s OK to blame the refs once in a while.

I’m especially fired up about this topic because of the Detroit Lions game Monday night. You can argue all you want the Lions shouldn’t have been forced into so many field goals; if they had’ve scored touchdowns when they had the chances, it wouldn’t have been that close.

And that’s true.

However, the referees gave that game to the Green Bay Packers. One horrible hands to the face call to extend a drive in the fourth quarter is one thing, 

but a second one against the same player to set up a short game-winning field goal? That’s absurd. 

What’s really bad about the whole thing is Trey Flowers has had only one hands to the face call against him his entire four-plus year career and now he gets two in one game. On top of it all, the NFL admitted the officials made a mistake.

Probably the most infuriating thing about the whole thing is I don’t understand why some penalties are challengeable and some aren’t. If a hands to the face flag was allowed to be challenged, both of those would’ve been obviously corrected.

Being a Detroit Lions fan is hard enough — especially against the Cheeseheads — the refs don’t need to make it any more challenging.

But the refereeing in the NFL, which has been dismal at best this season, isn’t the only difficult officiating I, and others, have had to deal with.

There have been some awful, awful calls against Tallapoosa County teams this year. And I know I wrote when instant replay was approved I liked the human-error factor of high school football and I stand by that. But that doesn’t make it any less annoying when it happens.

I understand there’s a shortage of good officials. It’s a tough job and it doesn’t pay great — although $110 or $100 for about three to four hours of work, which is what an AHSAA official makes for a varsity regular-season game depending on the crew size, isn’t exactly shabby. 

However, a shortage isn’t an excuse, in my book, for flat-out bad refereeing. There’s a difference also between making a questionable call and clearly not knowing the rules.

It started with Dadeville’s missed field goal against Southside Selma. Whether it was a miss or not, I’ll never know because I wasn’t there, but the official was at least 6 yards out of position to make the correct call.

Horseshoe Bend got it last week against Vincent when the Yellow Jackets clearly touched the ball on a punt return making it a live ball, which HBS recovered, but the official said because the Vincent player who touched the ball “wasn’t moving forward,” it didn’t count.

Two weeks ago, Reeltown was called for a holding penalty with less than 50 seconds to go in the first half against Thorsby and the clock was never stopped. The officials explained in the ensuing chaos they wouldn’t give Reeltown the time back but they would give it the down back. That left Reeltown 10 seconds and too much field to manage, and that’s not how penalties work. 

Again, I’m not about blaming the refs in many instances. And I understand the best officials move up the ladder to college football then the pros. But it’s important, especially for our high school kids, to give them the best officials we can put out on the field — or at the very least ones who know the rules.

Lizi Arbogast is the sports editor at Tallapoosa Publishers, Inc.