MISSOULA, Mont. -

On the high school gridiron the start of the season is right around the corner, and our local teams aren't the only ones gearing up for the new season.

So too are the men and women in stripes who play a huge role in our local sports community, both on the football field, as well as in other local sports.

We're talking about the referees and officials who make games possible from the elementary grades all the way through high school varsity. As of right now we're told Missoula is looking for almost 20 more referees just in the next couple of weeks.

"If people want to get involved in this and they want to move up, I mean there's word that some of our officials are going to move up to NFL eventually," said Missoula officials organizer Tyler Smith.  "Having more officials gives us an opportunity to put a better product on the field. Whether it's a freshman level game or a JV level that's the most important game of the week for them (the players) so it's just as important for us to put these officials on the field that are ready to go to work for them."

Here's some more information for anyone interested in getting involved with becoming an official:

This Wednesday, August 20th at Big Sky High school there will be a mechanics training session from 6-9 p.m. and again the following Wednesday, August 27th from 6-9 p.m.

For any additional information you can go to the Montana High School Association website at MHSA.com.