(KWES) - Two-a-days are less than a month away. While coaches and players may be ready, the men in white and black stripes are in need of some help.
"I go to church on Sundays I get bombarded with people saying you missed the call and I say I wasn't even there," said Gary Speed.
Gary Speed is a part of the Permian Basin Officials, the group of referees who throw their flags on Friday nights.
"It's the excitement of it. You're part of the game instead of being up on the field and you're a part of the game," said Speed.
Speed loves spending his time on the sidelines, but he's having a hard time finding others to join him and he needs to, in order to cover all football games in the fall.
There's a shortage of refs in the Permian Basin but the problem can actually be felt on the national scale.
Current officials are retiring and younger people are hesitant to apply.
"They're scared, I guess, to step foot out on the field," explained Speed.
He thinks refs starting out find success after a certain point.
"If he can make it two to three years he'll be okay," said Speed.
But according to the National Federation of State High School Associations, an average of only two of every ten officials have returned for their third year, often because of mistreatment. But Speed urges that in West Texas, there's a mutual respect.
"We have a good set of coaches out here in West Texas. They know when there's a young official out there to kinda work with 'em and as an official we do the same thing for the new coaches. It goes hand in hand. We'll work with each other," said Speed.
Right now, games remain on the calendar unassigned, the organization hopes for new hires to change that. For more information on how to apply to be a ref, please click here.