Refs Leave Game

October 30, 2017

Last Friday night, at a New Jersey high school football game between Monroe and Colt's Neck, two officials left the game before it started. After some players from Monroe took a knee during the national anthem, Ernie Lunardelli, the head linesman, and his son, Anthony, a line judge, walked off the field.

According to, Ernie Lunardelli said he believed that taking a knee as a means of protest was disrespectful to the flag.

“Anybody that disrespects the flag, in my eyes, it’s not right,” he said. “What they are doing with this kneeling and everything, they have the right do to that, but the national anthem has nothing to do with them kneeling. The flag has got nothing to do with why they are protesting. If they want to protest, let them protest, but don’t disrespect our country, the flag and the armed forces.”

Two officials in training who were manning the chains replaced the Lunardellis, and Monroe Athletic Director Greg Beyer found two parents to work the chains. Beyer did not comment on the Lunardellis' decision to walk off, but said that Monroe does not prohibit students from taking a knee.

“We have to follow what is in the policy,” Beyer said, “and pretty much the policy is if a kid doesn’t want to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, that’s his constitutional right, so we have to handle it (taking a knee during the playing of the anthem) the same exact way.”

The Central Jersey Chapter of the New Jersey Football Officials Association will review the incident and decide if any sanctions should be imposed on the officials. According to Anthony Lunardelli, Monroe school officials are also planning to complain to the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

“They are trying to get them to not give us any more games, basically saying we put the players’ safety in danger, but we didn’t,” Lunardelli said. “They obviously had enough officials to do the game. I’m not really worried about (being sanctioned). If I don’t ref again, it won’t be the end of the world.”


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