Hawaii ripple effect? Nevada opens spring football season, but Clark County/Las Vegas opts out

Saint Louis receiver Roman Wilson (14) hauled in a 31-yard touchdown pass after he got behind Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas, Nev.) defensive back Jaden Hicks (7) in the first half on Aug. 30, 2019, at Aloha Stadium. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Nevada is in high school football mode this spring.

Gov. Steve Sisolak announced on Wednesday that the football season, postponed last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic, would be played this spring. That means 44 states have played or are starting prep football in the 2020-21 academic year.

In Hawaii, public school leagues postponed all fall sports in 2020. By winter season, the DOE cancelled winter and fall sports in the OIA, KIF, MIL and BIIF. Only the private-school ILH has kept some fall and winter sports alive, postponed until the abbreviated spring season. Cross country and air riflery are among sports that are ongoing this winter season. Football is set to begin on Monday.

“Currently, we have a proposal and safety plan on the table for football and it does include testing. We are waiting on approval for us to move forward to play in the ILH,” Damien Athletic Director and Football Coach Eddie Klaneski said. “There a lot of things that have to come together in order for us to actually pull this off. The main thing is that there is still hope for a spring football season in the ILH.”

Klaneski noted that ILH football coordinator Wendell Look spearheaded the plan.

“He has a great safety plan for football. If it doesn’t work out for us now, at least we have something to move forward with in the fall. If we don’t have football or any other higher-risk sports, it will be sad for our seniors just looking for one more chance to play, especially the ones not moving on to the next level,” he said. “I am hoping for the best, but I do understand the concerns with COVID and all the unknowns that it presents.”

In Nevada, approval by the governor is not a guarantee for all football players across the state. A story on nevadasportsnet.com noted Sisolak’s observation that districts have the authority to determine each sport’s status. Clark County, the largest public-school district, was unlikely to play as of Wednesday. On Thursday, Clark County made it official: public schools in its district would not suit up for football this spring. If the trend holds through the spring and summer, would there be a reverse migration of student-athletes from Las Vegas back to the islands?

“The way things have been going in Las Vegas, and just Las Vegas being Las Vegas, the decision not to opt-in doesn’t surprise me at all,” Moanalua Coach Vince Nihipali said. “The start of reopening sports in some way, shape or form is still progress for the student-athletes moving forward.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Rick Blangiardi’s office announced 45 new cases of COVID-19 as of today, bringing to seven-day moving average to 31. That is well below his threshold of 70 per day. The positivity-rate moving average is 1 percent, less than half of the threshold of 2.5 percent.

On Kauai, The Garden Island reported that hundreds of keiki basketball players tipped off an outdoor basketball league last weekend. Games in previous years were played in Kapaa High School’s gym. The island was extremely diligent about preventing transmission when the pandemic began.

“I’ve been helping to coach my son’s baseball team. He had tee ball, and now Pinto and starting (PAL) Mustang league,” Kapaa Coach Mike Tresler said. “Senior softball played throughout the pandemic. (Club) soccer is starting. All community leagues. Kauai is good to go. That’s a big reason the mayor (Derek Kawakami) has done what he had done for our island keiki.”

Konawaena Coach Brad Uemoto hasn’t given up hope for a spring football season.

“Our numbers have obviously improved since the inception of vaccines. The trend will only improve. I obviously feel that the window to still have a football season is open and, coupled with safety measures such as the Safe Sports Hawaii guidelines, return to play is even more attainable,” Uemoto said. “Students returning to campus is another big step towards the return of sports on campus. My hope is that we can take the same initiative Nevada has taken.”


  1. Sportsfan February 19, 2021 6:03 am

    If you can have a plan for football, what about the other sports? Basketball and soccer should start their seasons as well. Sounds unfair.

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