High school football forfeits "black eye" for OIA academics

High school football forfeits "black eye" for OIA academics

WAIPAHU, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Waipahu High School forfeited its season-opening football game against Farrington High School, largely because half of the Marauders roster was academically ineligible.

"There has to be some kind of consequence for these kids that didn't make the grade," Waipahu athletic director Stacie Nii said.

About 25 Waipahu players got a D or an F in at least one class in the fourth quarter of last school year. So they couldn't play. The team could have sat out the game altogether, but took the field to reward players who did qualify in the classroom.

"To say you're not going to play, what about those 22 kids that have been coming to practice all season long?" Nii said.

The Marauders were down 35-nothing when they threw in the towel. They weren't alone. Two other Oahu public schools forfeited opening games, and other teams were undermanned because of academics. It happens during the first week of every football season.

"It's not only us," Nii said. "There's a lot of schools that have quite a bit of kids that have to sit out."

Even Farrington was down about a dozen players. Head coach Randall Okimoto said the academic issue could be solved if the regular season started a week or two later. That way the grade check for eligibility would be from this semester when student-athletes are on campus and engaged, instead of being based on last year's report card.

"It also would help not only in getting them eligible but also getting more kids out on the team," Okimoto said. "Some kids, for whatever reason, might not come out during the summer."

Raymond Fujino, athletics administrator with the Oahu Interscholastic Association, said the problem is that too many high school players drop the ball after their season ends..

"They do slack off after the season because grades aren't important to them anymore. You need to impress upon them how important it is," he said.

This is the first season the OIA divided the 14 best teams into two conferences and added an extra game, forcing the regular season to kick off one week earlier.

"We don't have to change the alignment to solve this problem. I think it's in each individual school," Okimoto said.

"The kids know what they needed to do and they didn't do it. They just got to get on the ball," Nii said.

Waipahu plays Kahuku this weekend. The team expects to put a full roster on the field.

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