Local Sports Official Shares Stories From Four-Time Super Bowl Referee

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Tim Fruth

For veteran high school sports official Tim Fruth, also the Payson High School assistant principal, the highlight of the National Association of Sports Officials 27th Annual Summit was reliving football memories with a man who officiated in four Super Bowls.

During the convention, which began July 25 at the J. W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort in Tucson, Fruth exchanged war stories with Jerry Markbreit, a National Football League official for 23 seasons.

Markbreit is the only NFL head referee to officiate four Super Bowls — XVII, XXI, XXVI and XXIX. He was also an alternate in three Super Bowls.

“He is really a great guy, so many stories to tell,” Fruth said. “And he can be hilarious.”

Among Markbreit’s stories that Fruth relished, possibly because the PHS vice-principal is an Ohio State fan, centered on former Buckeye coach Woody Hayes storming the field in 1971 to argue Markbreit had missed a pass interference call that should have gone against Michigan.

Hayes received an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, was dragged off the field by two assistants and then in a fit of rage threw the sideline marker on to the field.

Markbreit also officiated the infamous and controversial “Holy Roller” play that resulted in the Oakland Raiders 21-10 win over the San Diego Chargers.

With 10 seconds remaining in the 1978 game, and the Raiders trailing 20-14, Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler lost the ball near the 14-yard line, Pete Banaszk tried to recover but pushed the ball closer to the end zone. Raiders tight end Dave Casper then batted and kicked the ball into the end zone where he fell on it for the game-tying touchdown as time ran out.

“He (Markbreit) has officiated some incredible games,” said Fruth, who was one of 1,200 high school officials to attend the summit sponsored by the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Gary Whelchel, AIA State Commissioner of Officials, called the NASO Summit, “a tremendous opportunity for our officials to touch shoulders with each other and hear from several of the top officials in the country.”

During the summit, attendees took part in workshops and meetings designed to enhance their knowledge of the sports in which they officiate.

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