CANTON — Morrow County was represented during last weekend’s state championship football games played here.
Greg Gompf was chosen to be part of the officiating crew for the Division I state title contest between Lakewood St. Edward and Cincinnati Colerain on Friday night.
“It was a humbling experience and an honor to be chosen one of the best 7 referees out of 3,800 officials in the state of Ohio,” he said.
St. Edward prevailed 24-10 in one of 7 divisional state championship games played at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Gompf has been officiating high school football for 11 years and also works college football in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
Yet his journey began quite by accident.
“Brandon Strain and I were high school coaches at Mount Gilead and were at a junior high game that needed officials. We went and got some whistles and did the game unlicensed just so they could play it. We said, ‘hey, this is kind of fun’ and the next year we both took classes to become officials and have been together ever since.”
The OHSAA has tried, much like the NCAA and the NFL, to make the game safer.
“The biggest change has been a focus on the safety of the players,” Gompf said. “The helmet contact and the big hits. We want to continue to have the game, but try to reduce the injuries.”
Officials must learn the rules and are graded by the OHSAA. The top ones are chosen to do post-season games.
Gompf has worked 7 straight post-seasons, including last year’s Division IV state semi-final game between Shelby and Steubenville.
“We work with the same crew throughout the regular season. Our goal is to monitor the flow of the game and try not to be too nit-picky,” he said.
Giving up weekends during the fall is a sacrifice for officials.
“I made 3 trips to Indiana for college games this season. Leaving the house at 5:30 a.m. and not getting home until almost 10 that night. My wife is very understanding.”
The OHSAA “is struggling for officials in Ohio,” Gompf said. “We have a need in all sports as guys are retiring. If someone has an interest, they can contact me.”
Gompf is a 2003 graduate of Mount Gilead High School and a 2007 graduate of the University of Toledo where he played baseball for the Rockets.
He is married to Morgan, a first-grade teacher at Marion Pleasant, and is the son of Gene and LeAnne Gompf of Cardington.
What started by chance for Gompf has resulted in “a hobby, a good passion. It’s so rewarding and gives back so much.”