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AFL announces officials for ArenaBowl XVIII

June 22, 2004 - Arena Football League (1987-2008) (AFL I) News Release

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Five officials with more than 26 years of combined Arena Football League experience have been selected to officiate ArenaBowl XVIII, on Sunday, June 27 in Phoenix, Ariz.

In his fourth season as an AFL official, Referee BILL ATHAN will head the crew announced today by JERRY TRICE, AFL vice president of football operations. Joining Athan will be Umpire DOUG WILSON, Line Judge DENNIS LIPSKI, Head Linesman BILL WARD and Back Judge ROB VERNATCHI.

"Just as Arizona and San Jose have earned the right to be in ArenaBowl XVIII, so have these game officials earned the right to work our most important game,” Trice said. “Our officials are evaluated every week. These gentlemen were the highest-rated officials for the season. Their selection to officiate our championship game is a testament to their talent, abilities and consistency as officials.”

Bringing with him 23 years of Division I college football experience, where he currently serves as a referee in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), Athan is officiating his first ArenaBowl. When he is away from the field, Athan works as the General Manager of Sunrise Country Club in Rancho Mirage, Calif., where he has been since 1992.

A second-generation official, Wilson will participate in his first ever ArenaBowl. With 21 years of experience, including four in the AFL, he currently officiates for the Big Sky Conference. Wilson has been a practicing doctor of chiropractic in Santa Maria, Calif. for 14 years and is the President of the California Chiropractic Association.

Lipski is working his second ArenaBowl. The six-year veteran was a referee in ArenaBowl XIII in Albany, N.Y. His experience includes serving as a referee/crew chief in the Big Ten Conference, along with bowl games such as the Cotton Bowl and Silicon Valley Bowl.

Carrying with him nine years of AFL officiating experience, Ward has worked as an official in the ECAC (Ivy League and Patriot League) for the last 20 years. Championship games for him are nothing new, as he worked the Division I-AA National Championship Game in 2002. Ward recently retired, from Assabet Valley High School in Marlboro, Mass., where he was a teacher, administrator and coach for 34 years.

Vernatchi is in his fourth season officiating in the AFL and collegiate ranks with the PAC-10. He will serve as a Side Judge in the upcoming National Football League season.

In addition to the group mentioned above, DAVID LAMBROS - a four-year AFL official - will serve as an alternate for the game; while long-time AFL veterans JIM LAPETINA, ED MANNING, BOB MANTOOTH and BUDDY WARD will serve as supervisors.

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