HALAWA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A pair of high school teams squared off at Aloha Stadium on Thursday night in a game that didn't start until close to 9 o'clock. Players had to be back at class early Friday morning with only a few hours of sleep.
Mililani's varsity team crushed Farrington, 71 to 28, but the Trojans didn't have time to celebrate. The matchup at Aloha Stadium finished close to midnight.
"The students' buses arrived somewhere before 1 o'clock. I heard once they changed, they got their uniforms sorted out so they could be washed, a lot of the students didn't get home until 2 o'clock in the morning," said Fred Murphy, principal of Mililani High School.
Mililani's football players, band members, and cheerleaders had to be at school with the rest of their classmates by 8:05 a.m. on Friday. Murphy said they were notified about the date months ago and a few students asked to be excused from the event.
The two teams ended up facing off on a school night for many reasons. Farrington's athletic facility is under construction, and a large crowd was expected for the school's homecoming game. The Rainbow Warriors play at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, and the Oahu Interscholastic Association and the Interscholastic League of Honolulu take turns scheduling Friday night games at the stadium. Thursday night's junior varsity game ran long, and then during the varsity game, a player was injured, leading to a 30 minute delay.
"We started about 40 minutes late into the varsity game, but it was also a televised game, and televised games have TV breaks, if you will, and then on top of that, it was homecoming," Murphy said.
This was the only Thursday game scheduled this season, according to the OIA. The executive director described the situation as a "perfect storm" and said in hindsight, perhaps the association should have looked at starting the junior varsity game earlier. Scheduling is affected by longer school days and the limited pickup times for buses taking players to the event. The state Department of Education said its five-year Oahu contract with Roberts Hawaii and Ground Transport is expected to save $7 million.
"It's not just a bus situation. It's not just a school situation. It's certainly not just an OIA situation. There are many things that you could do."
One idea to eliminate the late start times is to have the junior varsity and varsity games on separate nights. The head of the OIA said games tend to run longer these days as teams pass the ball more often.