The 11 free online officiating courses for seven sports offered by the National Federation of High Schools during the coronavirus shutdown have proved popular. The NFHS reports than more than 5,200 courses have been taken in the last two weeks at NFHSLearn.com. In the last three years, more than 35,000 people have signed up to become officials. “These are good signs more people will continue to be involved in officiating when the games return,” NFHS executive director Karissa L. Niehoff said in a news release.


The New Mexico Activities Association finished its state basketball tournament, but the final three days were held without fans after the first two days were played as normal. Dana Pappas, commissioner of officials for the NMAA, said in a news release that coaches acted differently without fans in the stands.


“Officials would make a call and if coaches had a question about it, they asked – calmly and respectfully. In huddles during time-outs, coaches just talked to their players, without raised voices,” Pappas said. “The behavior of coaches on the sidelines from Thursday through Saturday was in stark contrast to what we witnessed on Tuesday and Wednesday. Perhaps they did not feel the need to be overly emotional for the benefit of their fans.


“My hope is that the absence of sport throughout the world gives us all a moment to gain perspective and do a ‘gut check’ as to the kind of fans we are at contests.”


Super Bowl champion Sean Considine, who led one of the most dominant teams in state history to the Class 3A state title his senior year at Byron in 1999, never met the area’s all-time winningest football coach. But his dad, Rick Considine, quarterbacked an Amboy team that knocked off No. 1-ranked Stockton in the 1979 playoffs. When John O’Boyle (279-74-1 in 35 years at Stockton) died at age 84 this December, Sean Considine paid his respects.


“Sean hadn’t even met my dad, but he came out to Dad’s visitation,” Dan O’Boyle said. “Sean’s a class guy.”


I named Stockton’s triple-overtime victory over Hononegah in 1979 the ninth-greatest football game in area history. But Stockton does not have the game ball in its trophy case.


“When I scored the winning touchdown, someone took the ball,” Jeff Bower said. “Coach O’Boyle and the other coaches asked me for the ball. I didn’t have it. To this day, it’s a mystery. Somehow, after the game the ball got loose and someone took it.”


Matt Trowbridge: 815-987-1383; mtrowbridge@rrstar.com; @matttrowbridge