The MBFO was established in 1922 by Herb Armstrong
and Maury Eichelberger to officiate MIAA football games.
There are over 250 active members within the MBFO. Many officiate at least X games a week.
The MBFO services over 65 schools within Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and surrounding areas.
The Maryland Board of Football Officials (MBFO) provides football officiating services to Baltimore area public and independent schools as a part of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA). The MBFO also provides timers and chain crews for the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).
The MBFO is proud of the many members of the group who also are active in several college football conferences such as the ECAC and MEAC. A few members hold dual membership with officiating associations in Anne Arundel, Carroll, and Harford counties. Many also work semi-pro football. The Maryland Board has had several members who have officiated in the NFL, including Henry Munder, Bernie Ulman, Ligouri Hagerty, John Donohue, and Supervisor of NFL Officials, Ron DeSouza.
A few years prior to 1922, some area colleges and high schools began football programs. Herb Armstrong and Maury Eichelberger, who officiated games in which Jim Thorpe played in Carlisle, PA, were coming to grips with a growing crisis: there were not enough men to enforce the rules of the game as played by the few high schools that had fielded teams.
In 1922, Armstrong, Eichelberger, Paul Wilkinson, Mike Thompson, and George Hoban, a coach at Poly, began meeting at the Arundel Hotel located at the corner of Charles Street and Mt. Vernon Place. They met to form the Maryland Board of Football Officials (MBFO). Eight decades later, the board would grow to more than 100 members and provide service to 60 high schools.
The Maryland Board's first Manual of Rules was printed in 1930. The manual consisted of rules and mechanics based on a book formulated by Walter Hutchins, then head of the Southern Conference. Prior to the introduction of the manual, officials wore white pants, white shirts and dark stockings without caps. Hutchins' book introduced striped shirts and black bow ties, the forerunner of the uniforms, we wear today.
After 1930, the number of schools in the Baltimore area that fielded football teams grew to about 15 and the need for more officials became acute. One of the young officials who came into the fledgling MBFO was a young sportswriter for the Baltimore Evening Sun named Paul Menton. Menton rose within the Maryland Board by working games for such teams as Southern, City, Poly, Gilman, Loyola, Calvert Hall, St. Joe, Patterson Park, and McDonough. He later worked his way up through the high school ranks and eventually worked the Rose Bowl. Menton took over the responsibility of assigning the group's membership to games by the mid-1930's, thus becoming the first Commissioner of the Maryland Board. Menton, by his presence as assigning commissioner, became the driving force behind the group. He held the reins of scholastic sports in Baltimore until the early 1960's when he retired as the Evening Sun’s Sports Editor and from the MBFO commissionership just prior to his death a few years later.
By 1938, The Maryland Board had a membership of about 30 officials. Some of these men included Vince Carlin, Otts Helm, Hap Enright, Dave Kaufman, Jim Lackey, Herb Armstrong, and Ed Houseman of the Gilman School. Rookie officials had to work their way up through the junior varsity games for a few years until they earned the privilege of working varsity games. One of those officials was Henry Munder. Munder joined the Maryland Board in 1939 after a fine career as a linesman for the University of Baltimore. Munder recalled that after working his way up through the junior varsity games, varsity assignments came quickly during the war years. "With Paul Menton, if you learned your job well, you could expect to work every Thursday, Friday, sometimes double headers on Saturdays and once in a while, a Sunday game at a military institution. Paul Menton had a simple and effective philosophy about your conduct on the field. It was be decisive, throw the flag and act like you know what you're doing. You'll make people believe you, and they'll think you know what you're doing." Others whom Paul Menton taught the same philosophy were John Donohue, who also worked several top bowl games after starting out in the Maryland Board, and now retired after 15 years in the NFL a participant in three Super Bowls.
Vince Carlin was one of the framers of the Board's first constitution drafted during the period following the Depression and the dawning of World War II. The Board's early constitution stated that you had to be white and a former member of a college football team. Those requirements changed in 1954 following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Brown vs. Board of Education that outlawed racial segregation in public schools. Subsequently, the Board opened its membership to several outstanding black officials who served the board well over the ensuing years: Charles Brown, who later won the Menton Award, Cyril Byron, the Late Lamar Quarles, Pat Patterson, Reggie Watts, Al Cottman, and Frederick Jackson. By this time, membership of the Maryland Board also included several top officials in college divisions such as the Southern Conference, the ECAC, CIAA and later the ACC.
The emergence of the Baltimore County School’s football program in 1965 had a major impact on the MBFO. At least a dozen new teams had to be serviced and more officials were needed. No longer would younger members of the board be required to serve several years of apprenticeship at the freshman and J.V. levels. Varsity officials were needed in a hurry.
The late 1960's and early 1970's saw the biggest recruitment drive ever. To meet the needs of the schools, the board made several revisions to the constitution and bylaws. Applicant and probationary training classes were started for new members. Applicants had to move up from these classes before they were granted full membership status. The membership of the board at the time numbered about 70 to 80 men. A strong recruiting drive continued and the membership subsequently swelled to more than 100 officials, where it has remained up to the present time. In 1984, Debbie Weinberg became the first female applicant of the Maryland Board. She is still an active member and works varsity and junior varsity games.
The MBFO has had an Assigning Commissioner since 1934. The commissioner assigns, evaluates and reviews the performance of the officials during games. He also investigates complaints from schools and all ejections of players/coaches from games.
1934-1966: A. Paul Menton (Deceased)
1967-1969: Fred Leidig (Deceased)
1970-1986: Ed Hargaden (Deceased)
1987-1988: Norm Brewer (Deceased)
1989-1994: Jim Diggs (Active Member)
1995-2008: Leon Jones (Active Member)
2009-Present: Steve Smith (Active Member)