Perspective, I will try to answer your questions.
1. The reason why officials seem to hesitate to blow their whistles is because the whistle very rarely ends the play itself. Usually, the result of the play, such as a runner running out-of-bounds or a receiver making a catch on the ground. In those type of situations, a defensive player is not going to make a tackle or hit an offensive player after that action just because a whistle did not blow. Forward progress can be tricky, and it is usually better to wait to blow the whistle, and then determine the result of the play instead of blowing a whistle immediately which automatically ends the play.
2. The coaches teaching the players to play to the whistle is incorrect, and most officials would urge coaches to stop teaching that phrase. The result of the play ends the play, not the whistle unless it is an inadvertent whistle.
3. By the letter of the rule the officials do not have the authority to send out a player to the sideline. However, there is an understanding among coaches and officials of the idea of a penalty box, meaning an official can point out to a coach that one of his players is getting out of control, and needs a 'cooling off' period without drawing a penalty. The player then can come back into the game at the coaches discretion. I do not know of one high school coach who has every declined this arrangement.
4. That sounds like a blown call by the officiating crew.
The Bloodhounds are a bit unsettled at QB, so Lake Gibson's stout defense was too much. Assuming Lake Gibson is able to play Lakeland next week (a big assumption with Covid), LG might ought to be a slight favorite. Lakeland has been completely shut down since Sep. 8, and won't be able to do anything until Tuesday of game week.
Thad Franklin got hurt late in the game. AHP has a very athletic defense that owned CM's big O-line. You would think Thad Franklin on a rainy night behind that O-line would be able to score, but no. CM's O-line needs work on blocking.
CM is a very formidable team in 3A. But I do not think the Lions have the firepower on offense to be considered one of the best teams in the state amongst all classes.
Both teams have quick D's that will give offenses trouble. AHP's offense needs some reps.