It’s of­fi­cial: Can­non works Divi­sion-III ti­tle game

Cam­bridge na­tive, Sal­is­bur y res­i­dent ref­er­ees first na­tional cham­pi­onship

Dorchester Star - - WHAT’S UP - By DAVID INSLEY dins­ley@star­ Fol­low me on Twit­ter: @ Davetalkss­ports.

For Cam­bridge na­tive Bob Can­non, sports has long been a huge part of life.

A three-sport ath­lete at Cam­bridge High, Can­non grad­u­ated in 1976, part of the last class be­fore the school merged with two oth­ers to be­come Cam­bridgeSouth Dorch­ester. Can­non ran cross coun­try, track, and was a wide re­ceiver and de­fen­sive back on the foot­ball team coached by Gor­ton McWil­liams.

Can­non is still seen on the grid­iron, as a ref­eree with the Bay­side Foot­ball Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion, where the 1980 grad­u­ate of Sal­is­bur y State Col­lege (now Sal­is­bury Univer­sity) has car­ried a whis­tle since 1998. He be­gan ref­er­ee­ing col­lege games a few years later.

On ESPNU, Can­non was a ref­eree, and chief of the of­fi­ci­at­ing crew work­ing the Stagg Bowl XLIV in Salem, Va, on Fri­day, Dec. 16. The an­nual Divi­sion-III na­tional cham­pi­onship, named af­ter legendary coach and pi­o­neer Amos Alonzo Stagg, pit­ted 14-0 Mar y Hardin-Bay­lor Univer­sity, from Bel­ton, Texas, against Wis­con­sin-Oshkosh Univer­sity (131). Mary Hardin-Bay­lor de­feated Wis­con­sin-Oshkosh 10-7 in the game.

Can­non of­fi­ci­ated last Satur­day’s Mar yland Class 2A state cham­pi­onship in An­napo­lis, where Walk­ersville earned a 33-6 vic­tory over Elk­ton.

He and his col­lege of­fi­ci­at­ing crew were se­lected af­ter their per­for­mance in a re­cent play­off be­tween Al­fred (N.Y.) and West­ern New Eng­land.

“When I do col­lege, it’s as a part of the ECFOA [East Coast Foot­ball Of­fi­cials As­so­ci­a­tion],” Can­non said. “At the end of the sea­son, our as­signer sub­mits two crews for play­offs, and we were one of the ones sub­mit­ted, for D-2 and D-3 foot­ball.

“We did the Al­fred-West­ern New Eng­land game, and af­ter that, they rate you in the play­offs,” Can­non continued. “NCAA gives you a rat­ing and that’s how they pick the crew for the fi­nal. I got an email Sun­day night telling me our crew had been picked. I’m leav­ing Thurs­day morn­ing around 9 or 10 o’clock in the morn­ing to meet with the crew and ride over.”

The other mem­bers of Can­non’s crew, he said, come mostly from New Jersey and parts north. He plans to meet them some­where out­side Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and fin­ish the six-hour ride to Salem with them. t

“We’ve got an 8:15 [a.m.] meet­ing [Fri­day] with NCAA, to go over some things,” Can­non said. “We’ve got to go over things like in­stant re­play . ... I’m a lit­tle ner­vous about that, since I’ve per­son­ally never done in­stant re­play be­fore.”

Can­non ad­mit­ted he was “a lit­tle shocked” that he was cho­sen as the white hat. “I was think­ing at my age — I’m 58 now — I thought they want younger guys,” he said with a laugh. “My­self and an­other guy, though, we’re in bet­ter shape than some of these 30-year-olds.”

Fri­day’s game was Can­non’s first na­tional cham­pi­onship. “I did a semi­fi­nal in 2013,” he said. “I was a side judge at a game at Mount Union (Ohio).”

Mount Union, a D-III pow­er­house, lost on Satur­day, 14-12, to Mary Hardin-Bay­lor in a semi­fi­nal in Texas. MHB’s win not only broke an 11-year streak of cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ances by Mount Union, it also put the Cru­saders in the fi­nal for the first time since 2004, the year be­fore the streak by Mount Union, which has the same mas­cot, the Raiders, as Can­non’s high school team, and NFL fa­vorite, the Oak­land Raiders — be­gan.

Col­lege of­fi­ci­at­ing, Can­non said, is “a lot more time con­sum­ing than high school.

“As ref­eree, I’m al­ways busy,” he said. “You have to call the coaches; I set up a test for the crew — they have to take a test ev­ery week — and there’s al­ways some­thing go­ing on. It’s time-con­sum­ing.”

When he’s not work­ing as a se­nior sup­ply plan­ner for Per­due Farms, where he’s been since 1988, he’s work­ing with his daugh­ter, Mag­gie, on her soft­ball skills.

“I’m head­ing home to work with my daugh­ter on her pitch­ing,” Can­non said. “We’ll go in the garage this time of year, and throw into the net . ... I have to keep her straight for an­other two years. She com­mit­ted to NC [Univer­sity of North Carolina] Charlotte.”

A ju­nior at Park­side High, Mag­gie was named South Bay­side Player of the Year for 2016 in soft­ball.

Though more than in­stant re­play sep­a­rates col­lege from high school— “there’s a lot more pres­sure, be­cause, for coaches, that’s their liveli­hood, and... the play­ers are faster, big­ger, more dis­ci­plined, plus there are a lot of rules that are dif­fer­ent, which peo­ple don’t re­al­ize,” Can­non said.

“I still love do­ing high school ball. Some­times it’s more fun do­ing the high school ball with the kids,” Can­non said. “For col­lege this year, this is my 14th game of the sea­son. I’ve been go­ing since the last week of Au­gust. Week 1 was [around] the end of Au­gust . ... I’ve spent a lot of time in Penn­syl­va­nia and New Jersey this year.”

A track and field ath­lete at Sal­is­bury, where he grad­u­ated in 1980, Can­non was in­ducted into the school’s ath­let­ics hall of fame in 2006. He and sev­eral team­mates still hold the record of 3 min­utes, 30.1 sec­onds in the sprint med­ley re­lay. Can­non and his wife, Mon­ica, have been mar­ried for 10 years and live in Sal­is­bury.



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