Game Day: ‘Iolani-Lahainaluna (updated 7:30 pm)

Rolling thunder on a cloudy afternoon at Aloha Stadium. The D-II state title game kicks off in less than an hour. (photo: Paul Honda)

First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships

3:15 p.m. What’s a little thunder, anyway? We’re less than an hour from kickoff and the dark gray clouds have rolled in. Forecast this weekend is wet skies, but I was still a little stunned. I got to the parking lot here at Aloha Stadium, started walking to the entrance, BIG drops fell from the sky. Crescendo.

Then the downpour. Some thunder emanating from the Central Oahu plains. THen the rains slowed up and it’s a trickle now. So what does this mean for the Division II final between ‘Iolani and Lahainaluna?

Rain can’t be a plus for a passing offense, even one as sharp as ‘Iolani’s. But it’ll be just as challenging for Lahainaluna’s defense. Decoding ‘Iolani’s fly sweep and dive, the misdirection fakes and handoffs, all of that takes brains and quick reaction time. If your cleats can’t get a bite on this soggy synthetic turf, you may get beat. Repeatedly.

For the second game, the D-I final between Kahuku and Punahou, it’s a similar obstacle for Kahuku’s defense. They employ a lot of man coverage at times, which is bad news if a corner or nickel back slips for a moment. Larry Tuileta is cunning and crafty. He’ll find the open receiver. But I still think Kahuku’s overall team speed is a big factor.

More later.

Update 3:30 p.m. I recall in the 1990s, covering a football game at Konawaena (for West Hawaii Today). The JV game featured a blanket of fog. It was awesome. I couldn’t help remembering a TV game between Philadelphia and (I think) Chicago. Randall Cunningham running out of the pocket in all that murkiness. Bizarre.

Anyway, the fog at that Konawaena JV game cleared out before the varsity game, which was a shame. Chatting with Jason Kaneshiro, he recalls covering a game at Kamehameha (Oahu) that did, indeed, have fog. But it was also rainy that night. Heavy rain. The field was a long puddle of wetness, very little drainage if any. A referee told Jason after the game, one of the players said the other team tried to drown him, which sounds preposterous, funny and yes, a little spooky. But mostly funny.

3:40 p.m. Aloha Stadium security just told me the D-II kickoff has been delayed for at least 15 minutes. They saw lightning nearby — in the mountain area near Halawa — which is enough to warrant a delay. I don’t recall any state-tourney game being affected this much by lightning. I can tell you it’s not visible from the inside of the stadium, but if it’s less than a mile away, safety first. Of course.

3:52 p.m. Teams are in official warm-up mode now. 27 minutes on the scoreboard clock. That gives us a new kickoff time of roughly 4:20 p.m. Not bad. Better safe.

7:30 p.m. FINAL – ‘Iolani 36, Lahainaluna 33. See me at Twitter @pupulepaul for updates.

Paul Honda, Star-Advertiser


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