LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Prep football is the biggest and most popular high school sport. While a pandemic-caused referee shortage has sacked many high school games, Nevada schools have fared well.

On any given Friday, there are about 20 high school football games in Southern Nevada. Local varsity games use five officials at a time, whereas many other regions only use four. Only once since the start of the 2021 season has a game been impacted by a ref shortage.

“At the varsity level… all games have been coved fully except for one game with four officials instead of five,” said Mike Seifer, a prep football official. “But that did not have any effect on the outcome of the game.”

Normally there is a pool of 270 officials in Southern Nevada. That’s down to about 120 right now. But cancellations and postponed games have eased those concerns, freeing up officials to work other games so none is left without a five-person crew.

“The school district is also scheduling some of those games on Saturday, which freed up officials to work those games,” said Seifer.

The commissioner of officials, Mark Ratner, says the shortage is real and there is a concern moving forward. But until the pandemic is over, the guys in stripes who make $58 per game will continue to make it work.

“For most of us it was a good year-and-a-half between the opportunities to get on the field, said Seifer. “The common conversation was: kids were happy to be out there, coaches were happy to be out there, and we were happy to be out there.”