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‘It feels good’: Fans cheer their return to Oahu public high school football games

Published: Oct. 22, 2021 at 9:57 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 22, 2021 at 10:18 PM HST
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MOANALUA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Friday Night Lights were finally shining on Oahu’s public high school football fans.

“It feels good. Feels almost normal,” said Gerald Garcia, who was in the stands at Moanalua High School to watch his grandson play.

It was an almost-normal experience, as the OIA’s rules allowing fans to return had the familiar COVID protocols. Everyone attending had to be fully vaccinated, and cards were checked at the gate.

Everyone in the stands had to wear a mask, and only 500 tickets were sold.

There was some anxious anticipation before kickoff.

“Emotionally we’ve been anticipating it for a long while,” said Moanalua High School teacher Ethan Paraso.

“We’ve just regretted that every time during the games, we just look back at the stands and it’s bare, and we’re missing the energy. So now, hopefully the energy comes back.”

They needn’t have worried. The crowd was happy to see not just the players, but everyone taking part on the field, like the cheerleaders.

“I didn’t know how excited I’d be until I saw them and I might have cried once already tonight,” said cheerleader dad T.J. Thompson. “I have twins that are seniors, so it’s the last time I’m gonna see them at their first game.”

This was a late-season opener for Aiea High School’s football team, who were taking the field for the first time in two years.

“We were pretty much a senior team last year, and a lot of good kids lost out on the opportunity to get extra film for colleges,” said Aiea head football coach, Wendell Say.

Players with hopes of making it to the college level are trying to make up for lost time, like Moanalua sophomore Ryson Lum, Garcia’s grandson.

“They want to make films so the colleges see them, so it’s real fortunate now that they’re opening up more,” said Garcia.

“I’m hoping next year will be back to normal because we’re pretty young,” said Say. “We only have nine seniors, so hopefully we’ll get everybody.”

“I’m just happy we have a season,” he added.

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