“What must we do to receive a call? »

That was the question players, coaches and fans of The Boy McComb’s varsity football team kept asking during Thursday night’s second-round playoff game against Greene County at CC Moore Stadium.

The Tigers had to fight through a lot of adversity. The game was delayed for over an hour due to a lack of referees and once the game finally started, the Tigers felt they couldn’t get a single call to move on.

At the end of the night, McComb’s football season came to a controversial end with the Tigers losing to the Wildcats 1-0.

“It hurts, it really hurts,” head coach Shane Hamberlin said. “If it had ended otherwise, I could have accepted it. They played a fair game, they played their hearts, they did everything I coached and begged them to do. The season was long and very similar to what people saw tonight.

The match was originally scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m., but when the time of the match arrived, only two officials were present. Mississippi High School Activities Association rules state that there must be three officials present to officiate a playoff game — two linesmen, one on each side, and a center judge. Referees suggested playing the game anyway with just two officials, but Hamberlin declined, explaining that he did not want potentially game-changing calls missed due to a lack of eyes.

So, in 40-degree weather, both teams continued to warm up on their sidelines for the next hour and 20 minutes until a Brookhaven official came to the stadium.

However, the extra official seemed to have the opposite effect of what Hamberlin hoped: not a single whistle was blown in the first 40 minutes of play. Numerous holding, cutting and miscellaneous fouls Other fouls went uncalled as players from both teams continually vented their frustrations while being knocked to the ground in what turned out to be a very physical game.

Things changed in the second half, but not in favor of the Tigers. Two yellow cards were shown in the next half, both to McComb.

Hamberlin received the first at halftime. After the officials met the Greene County head coach in midfield, the center judge rushed to McComb’s touchline and showed Hamberlin a yellow card as a warning to get away. being complained about the refereeing and telling his players to “throw your elbows”, if the referees weren’t. will call all holding penalties.

The second went to junior Jamarion McCray in the dying minutes of the game after he expressed frustration at the lack of calls to the center judge, while running towards his goal to get on the defense.

McCray’s anger, much like his teammates, stemmed from second-half appeals that were initially ruled in favor of dismissing McComb and in favor of Greene County.

“I had a linesman who called four penalties in the box and he (the center judge) canceled them,” Hamberlin said. “It’s like that. If it was the first time it happened, I would have said something, but everyone kind of knows what’s going on.

The most egregious came midway through the half. McComb’s senior midfielder Erick Martin sent a fine forward pass to junior striker Ryan Harvey, who had no one left to beat but the goalkeeper. But as soon as he entered the box, the Wildcats keeper dove for the ball, kicking Harvey’s legs in the process and sending him flying through the air.

The linesman closest to the game called a penalty, which would have resulted in a penalty for Harvey, with the contest still scoreless. However, the center judge had a different take on the game – a common theme of the night – and overturned the call, giving Greene County a goal kick.

A few minutes later, a Wildcats forward managed to force his way through McComb’s defense and pushed the ball just outside the outstretched leg of Tigers junior goaltender Tamar Griffin, who had made many incredible saves throughout the game up to this point. .

With 13 minutes left, McComb attempted to find the equalizer but was never able to locate, ending the Tigers’ season. At the final whistle, anger and frustration poured out of McComb’s players as they headed for the touchline, but Hamberlin brought them back to the pitch and gave them a message.

He told the team to internalize what happened and take it as a life lesson that sometimes things just don’t go their way. He also wanted to remind the Tigers of the success they have had this year and told them to “leave this field knowing that you are winners”.

“I want my boys to hold their heads up high and know they played a great game,” Hamberlin said. “No matter the obstacles in their lives or what was going on, they did their job and I’m very proud of them.”

In his first year as head coach after spending last season as an assistant, Hamberlin led McComb to a 15-1 regular season record and went 6-0 in district play. to become champion of the 6-4A region. His philosophy of playing the ‘long ball’, which involves throwing the ball down the field to open up teammates rather than kicking the ball back and forth and trying to dribble past defenders, resulted in an offensive attack of major power.

The Tigers have scored six or more goals in nine games. And of those nine, eight of those games were won by a margin of at least five goals.

“My kids are fast, we have speed,” Hamberlin said. “We have the speed to pass you and I have kids with some of the best foot touches.”

With just two seniors on this year’s squad, Hamberlin promises to be back even stronger next season and wishes Greene County only the best moving forward.

“I love my kids and I love this school district,” Hamberlin said. “We will come back even stronger next year and if it takes another 15-1 to get there, so be it.”

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