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Opportunity of a lifetime for one local official in state game

By Ray Hamill — Longtime local football official Ed Matthews will fulfill a lifetime ambition when he gets to officiate in Saturday’s state championship bowl game in Crescent City.

The 48-year NorCal Football Officials Association veteran was selected as one of the umpires for the 5-AA state showdown, in what will be his first ever-state championship appearance.

And Matthews admits he was more than a little surprised when he got word he had been selected for the prestigious job.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, but I was completely shocked when I got the email,” he said, adding that he has no idea how the CIF chooses.

In order to qualify to officiate in a state game, an official must have at least seven years experience in a particular position, and must have officiated at least one section championship game in that position.

Matthews got the call for an NCS championship showdown last year, which made him eligible, and was then selected by the CIF for this year’s state playoffs.

He made his debut in the state playoffs last weekend, officiating at the Cardinal Newman/Los Gatos NorCal Regional showdown.

He will be a part of the same officiating crew in Del Norte on Saturday.

Prestigious honor

It’s not unheard of for a local official to be chosen for such an occasion — two locals officiated in a state bowl game a year ago — but it is rare, and a prestigious honor.

Matthews, who served in the Marines Corps before moving to Humboldt County, has been officiating for almost half a century.

And he has never tired of the job.

“I enjoy it,” he said. “I enjoy the game.”

He played football for three years in high school in San Francisco and four more in college at North Park University in Chicago.

He also played football during his four years in the Marine Corps after volunteering back in the 1960s.

After leaving the Marines, he moved to Humboldt to work as a salesman and says he fell in love with the area.

And the best part of officiating for 48 years?

“I’ve made so many friends it’s unreal,” he said. “People I’m still friends with today.”

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