Tsunami Warning Puts DI Title Game on Pause
The threat of a natural disaster brought Saturday night’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I Championship Game between Hilo High School and Kealakehe High School to a halt.
At 7:14 p.m., the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the State of Hawaii following a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in the Queen Charlotte Islands. This came two hours after the center issued a pair of statements saying that the islands were not initially threatened by the quake.
Shortly after, Kealakehe’s public address announcer informed the crowd of the warning, which gained little response from the football fans watching the championship contest. A tsunami warning siren sounded at least once as game play continued.
Hilo scored a touchdown with :58.8 seconds remaining in the first half. As they were lined up to kickoff following the score, another tsunami warning siren sounded. Randy Morris, police officer and Hawaii Isle Police Activities League West Hawai`i coordinator, along with BIIF Executive Secretary Lyle Crozier, alerted the officials to stop the game.
At approximately 8:15 p.m., all officials, Crozier, the athletic directors and head coaches from both schools met at midfield to discuss the procedure on how the game would be treated. After both coaches shook hands, it was announced to the crowd that the game would be suspended.
The suspension means that the game’s current score and time will be held. It also means that the game will continue play at the point where it was left off, with the Vikings kicking off after Drew Kell’s second touchdown run of the game.
The Vikings trailed big early after a pair of Kell interceptions led to touchdowns in the first quarter. On Hilo’s opening drive, Kell was intercepted by Vincent Paogofie, who returned it inside Viking territory. Four plays later, Kealakehe quarterback Jordan Cristobal scored on a 13 yard touchdown run to give the Waveriders a 6-0 lead with 8:24 left in the opening quarter.
Two drives later, Kell would be intercepted again, this time by Kyler O’Halloran. Four plays later, Kealakehe’s Lennox Jones scored on a five yard touchdown run, a play after Cristobal completed a 36 yard deep pass to Paogofie. The two-point run extended Kealakehe’s lead to 14-0 with :34.6 remaining in the first quarter.
Hilo’s next drive stalled, and Kealakehe responded with a nine-play, 80 yard drive that ended with Cristobal’s 15 yard touchdown pass to Raymond Yadao. Cristobal was pressured as he ran left, then right, then back left with enough time to find Yadao standing alone in the endzone for the touchdown. The two-point play failed, and Kealakehe’s lead was 20-0 with 7:30 remaining in the first half.
The Vikings quickened the offensive tempo on their next drive, going eight plays and 69 yards in less than two minutes. A late hit penalty helped Hilo get deep in Kealakehe territory, and Kell finished off the drive with a nine yard touchdown run, cutting the deficit to 20-7 with 5:38 remaining in the half.
Cristobal would make his first make of the night on the next drive, throwing an interception to Hilo’s AJ Midallia, who was playing only his second game of the season after breaking his foot earlier this year. Kell immediately struck for a 58 yard run to take Hilo down to the Kealakehe 17 yard line, and a personal foul would give them a first-and-goal from the seven. On fourth-and-goal from the two, Kell threw an incomplete pass to Jacob Genegabus, who was running a slant on the left side of the field. However, a flag was thrown and pass interference was called on Kealakehe, giving Hilo a first-and-goal from the Waverider one yard line. Kell ran the ball into the endzone on the next play, getting Hilo within six at 20-14 on what would be the final play of the night.
According to both athletic directors, Mike Hernandez of Kealakehe and Sondra Lundvick of Hilo, the game will be continued on either this coming Friday or Saturday night at Kealakehe High School’s Waverider Stadium. Admission to the resumed contest will be free. Lundvick believes the game should be played on Saturday because of the Division II contests set to play on Friday night. She is also reluctant to have her student-athletes miss extensive class time on Friday for travel to Kealakehe, to play just over half a game.
Kealakehe High School’s gymnasium served as an evacuation shelter for the community. About half of Hilo’s football team stayed at the shelter or at other parts of the campus until about 1:15 a.m. Sunday, when Hawai`i County Mayor Billy Kenoi announced that residents and visitors could return to properties within the tsunami inundation zone. The other half of the football team was released to their parents who were at the game site.
Hilo 0 14 x x – 14
Kealakehe 14 6 x x – 20
1st (8:24) – KEALAKEHE: Jordan Cristobal 13 yd TD run (Lennox Jones XPT no good)
1st (:34.6) – KEALAKEHE: Jones 5 yd TD run (2PT run good)
2nd (7:30) – KEALAKEHE: Cristobal 15 yd TD pass to Raymond Yadao (2PT run failed)
2nd (5:38) – HILO: Drew Kell 9 yd TD run (Keola Miller XPT good)
2nd (:15.8) – HILO: Kell 1 yd TD run (Miller XPT good)