• 52°

Hensley enjoys trip to state finals

Bernie Hensley is getting regular work at Ohio high school state championship games.

Saturday, December 18, 1999

Bernie Hensley is getting regular work at Ohio high school state championship games.

Two years ago, Hensley umpired the Division III state softball tournament. Two weeks ago, Hensley was working the Division VI state football championship game between Delphos St. John’s and Norwalk St. Paul.

Hensley enjoyed both experiences, but he said there is a difference.

"Football is a lot more exciting. There are more fans and more involvement with the community and team members. The total atmosphere is different," said Hensley. "But the enthusiasm is still there, it’s just more condensed."

The state finals game was Hensley’s 16th game this season. Besides 11 regular season games, he worked all five weeks of the playoffs. His other playoff assignments were Versailles vs. St. Henry, Kings Mill Kings vs. Lebanon, Copley vs. Orrville (overtime), and the Division V state semifinal between Bedford St. Peter Chanel and eventual state champion Amanda-Clearcreek.

But the state finals were the most exciting for Hensley.

"It was a fun time, but I was a little more nervous because of the crowd and this being my first time as an official in the finals," said Hensley who worked as the umpire in the crew. "But as soon as the kickoff, it was like another ball game. You just do your job and let the kids determine the outcome.

"I was the oldest guy (46) and the umpire was 45, 41, 38, 33. We were relatively a young crew. Two had been in the state finals before, but three of us were in for the first time."

Hensley said the fact his father, Bernard Hensley, was able to make the trips with him made the experiences "even more special."

He was also glad that his game was played at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium instead of Massillon’s Paul Brown Stadium.

"Fawcett Stadium was great to call because of the history there. And the lighting was great. It has four extra sets and it’s almost like daylight," said Hensley.

Hensley, in his 20th season, worked a state semifinal game three years ago and has had a playoff game in each of the past five seasons. But he was not the only local official working playoff games.

Regular crew members Chuck Delawder, Larry Muche, Tony Compliment, and Tony Payne all had at least one playoff game.

Delawder and Compliment had two games together, and Payne and Muche three each. Other Ironton officials to earn playoff games included brothers Mike and Jimmy Mahlmeister, Bobby Ackerman, and Jay Zornes got his first postseason assignment.

Delawder worked a state game last year and Jim Mahlemister Sr. has worked playoff games in two states including the state championship game in Kentucky.

Only three officials from Southeastern Ohio are chosen each year to work a state finals.

"I’d like to see more officials from our area (in the state finals), but with the populations and the number of teams, I don’t think it will ever be more. We get three and that’s probably they way it’s always going to be," said Hensley.

There has been discussion whether officials should be selected to work games individually or as crews. Although he preferred working with his own crew, Hensley said it didn’t really matter.

"Crew components are important. You work with guys all year and that’s how you’re seen by coaches. It seems that is the way that would be;" said Hensley.

"I’m not going to say one is better than the other. I’ve been fortunate with the people I’ve worked with. It was fun to meet guys from different areas and learn their philosophies and mechanics that you can bring back to your own crew. I enjoy our crew and I enjoy working with them during the season."