Sunday | December 10, 2017
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Reardon: HHSAA finals epic – but tweaks needed

It went really late and it certainly didn’t start off great. But has there ever been a crazier day of wall-to-wall football for Hawaii than the 15 hours that started Saturday morning and ended a few minutes before last call Sunday?

I mean for the entire state … not just the University of Hawaii and its fans, not just fans on Oahu (three of the six teams battling for state championships were from the neighbor islands).

It all started even before the 10 a.m. (Hawaii time) kickoff in Logan, Utah. The Rainbow Warriors got into a little pregame scuffle with their hosts, the Utah State Aggies.

It’s good to see they still have some fight left in them. But too bad it didn’t translate into a victory — or even some points scored this time, with the result being on the wrong side of 38-0.

After that debacle that put Hawaii at 3-8 heading into its finale Saturday against BYU, the long day and night of football at Aloha Stadium was just starting. And at least there would be wins for three island teams.

While it was still going on, I called the seven-overtime battle for the Division II state championship in which Lahainaluna prevailed over Konawaena the greatest game in Hawaii prep football history — and I stand by that, if we’re talking about pure drama and excitement for those involved and others invested as family, friends and fans of the two teams, and everyone else affiliated with the Maui and Big Island schools.

Now, here’s the very, very big BUT …

As contradictory as this may sound, hopefully nothing like the greatest game ever happens again with two more scheduled after it at the same venue.

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association needs to do one of two things, or maybe both:

1) As thrilling as the seven-overtime game was, the length of it resulted in the starting times of the two other state championship games being pushed back two hours. Hilo’s triumph against Damien was pushed back approximately two hoursBy the time Saint Louis had completed its miraculous last-minute victory over Kahuku, it was 1:04 a.m., Sunday.

Why is there no rule in high school football forcing 2-point conversions after a certain number of overtimes, as there is in college? I’m not saying high school should do everything the same as college, but this makes sense.

Here are some other ideas that would help lead to quicker resolution in both high school and college overtime: If both teams are scoring at will — like the other day — then push the starting line back 5 or 10 yards after a couple of overtimes — and keep pushing it back each time both teams score TDs. Another option is to give each team three downs instead of four (thank you, CFL). You can even go the other way with it if neither team can score and move them closer to the goal line after a couple of 0-0 OTs.

2) Don’t have all three state finals on the same day at the same venue. Schedule them for two days, like last year.

I was told by an HHSAA spokesperson that it goes by the National Federation book on overtime rules — and if Hawaii goes rogue and independently enacts something that makes better sense, it can lose its place at the the national rule-making table.

Then ally with other states that also would benefit from overtime rules that would prevent — or at least make less likely — a tripleheader that starts at 2 p.m. and goes to 1 a.m., and propose changes.

Those of us who made it to the end were rewarded with an instant classic. I had to reconsider that “greatest game ever” tag I’d just put on Lahainaluna-Konawaena. The finish was certainly incredible, with Chevan Cordeiro’s 53-yard touchdown strike to Jonah Panoke in the waning seconds giving Saint Louis a win over Kahuku in the final for the second year in a row.

The players on both ends of that TD are verbally committed to UH.

The Warrior recruiters need to do whatever they can to make sure Cordeiro and Panoke don’t get lost on their way to Manoa before signing day — and see if they can convince their teammate, Mitchell Quinn, and other top local prospects to join them.

So, for UH fans, Saturday wasn’t good. But the first 64 minutes of Sunday had to bring hope for the future.

 

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