It's almost as if the six-man referee crew used in some high school football leagues was made with the Scanlans in mind.

Friday night in Lower Pottsgrove, in what many believe was a historic event, at least in Pennsylvania, six Scanlan brothers - John Jr., Kevin, Jerry, Bill, Joe, and Rob - officiated the game between host Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford.

Bill Scanlan, 46, was the referee and the man in charge at the game, wearing the white cap. John, 52, was the back judge. Rob, 41, was the umpire.

Jerry, 50, was the head linesman; Kevin, 51, the side judge; and Joe, 44 and the last to join the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association officiating ranks (in 2007), the line judge.

Watching from the stands were wives Tammy (John), Bridie (Kevin), Theresa (Jerry), and Cathy (Joe). Joe Scanlan gave up a night of bartending to handle his first varsity assignment.

John Jr., called the group's "patriarch" by Rob, the youngest, started the refereeing chain in the mid-1970s. Shortly after graduating from now-defunct Sharon Hill High School in 1975, he started officiating basketball games. A decade later, he signed up for football.

In an effort to find out if a six-man crew of brothers was a state first, John Scanlan spoke by phone recently with Robert A. Lombardi, associate executive director of the PIAA.

"He said he thought it was," John Scanlan said. "Or, if it ever had been done in the past, it might have been five brothers. That's because the six-man crew has only been around for a few years."

Because of expanding passing attacks and spread formations on offense, a side judge, positioned downfield on the head linesman's side of the field, was added four years ago by some leagues in the state, including the Pioneer Athletic Conference. Pottsgrove and Spring-Ford are members of the Pioneer.

The head of the Scanlan clan, John Sr., was almost certainly watching Friday night's game proudly from a luxury suite high in the sky. The father of 10 died seven years ago, at 75, when four of his six boys were officiating PIAA games on the gridiron and hardwood.

"Yeah, he would have loved this," Bill Scanlan said. "He followed sports closely, was at all our games."

John and Dorothy Scanlan raised an always-active bunch in Sharon Hill, Delaware County. Dorothy Scanlan, 82, attended Pottsgrove's homecoming game with daughters Mary and Anne. The other two girls are Margie and Maureen.

The total number of Scanlans who can be found refereeing football on any weekend is actually 10. John, Kevin, Jerry, and Bill have sons who don the stripes in PIAA games: John III, 31; Danny, 24; Jerry, 26; and Billy, 19, respectively.

Billy Scanlan, a sophomore studying accounting at West Chester University, passed the PIAA football exam in June. His first game, with him at line judge and his dad as referee, was last month's Reading-Owen J. Roberts contest.

"That was pretty awesome," Bill Scanlan said.

That Owen J. Roberts game was another all-Scanlan affair. The six-man crew also included John Jr., Kevin, Jerry Sr., and John III.

On Friday, the Scanlans' journey to Pottstown started at 4 o'clock, with everyone except Bill meeting and leaving from Jerry's home in Ridley. Bill, a chief financial officer for a cellular phone wholesale company, was picked up in King of Prussia. That was followed by a stop-and-go drive on always bustling Route 422 West.

Jerry and Joe Scanlan are considered the jokesters of the group, with Bill - a.k.a. "Mr. Serious" - trying to maintain order and a focus on the things to watch for come game time.

"We do laugh and have a lot of fun before and after the game," Rob Scanlan said. "But once there, we try to step up, hustle, and give the spectators 100 percent on every play. Our goal is to do a phenomenal job."

Living in Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, Rob Scanlan, a sales engineer for a mechanical construction services company, is the only non-Delaware County resident. John lives in Sharon Hill, Kevin in Glenolden, Bill in Aldan, and Jerry and Joe in Ridley.

Said Bill Scanlan, speaking no doubt for all of his brothers: "I love being a ref. It's great. It's not about the money. I wouldn't do it each week if I didn't enjoy it."

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or