Birkhofer gets the big game
Long-time East County resident John Birkhofer is filling up his Christmas calendar early, and he even knows what he will be wearing to the party — a black-and-white striped shirt, topped with a white cap.
"Our commissioner called last week and asked if I had anything scheduled for December 7," Birkhofer said.
That date is circled on his calendar.
It's the day of the 6A football championship game at Hillsboro Stadium where Birkhofer, a veteran official in his 47th year, will referee the title game for the first time.
"It's a nice way to wind down my officiating career," Birkhofer said.
But don't confuse this with a retirement party. Birkhofer plans to be on the basketball courts this winter and back for more football next fall.
The last time Birkhofer was on the field for the big-school final was in 1985 as a line judge during Medford's 14-13 win over Churchill — the final season before Medford split into North and South.
As a tune up for the big game, Birkhofer and his crew will be together to call Saturday's 5A semifinal game at Autzen Stadium between Silverton and Thurston.
"It's a real good prep. It's an intense atmosphere with players at a high skill level," Birkhofer said.
And then there's the fun part.
The officials plan to gather that morning and will be riding to the stadium together in a motorhome owned by one of the crew members.
"It makes for a nice relaxed atmosphere, but I guarantee 90 percent of the discussion on that trip with be football," Birkhofer said.
The OSAA has been battling a shortage of officials in recent years. Anyone interested in trying the profession can visit www.newofficials.org.
This story is slated for our Friday, Nov. 22, print edition.
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