Rain or shine, but not in the dark: Game suspended

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Red Raiders and the Kapa‘a Warriors were at the tail end of an exciting football game Saturday night at Vidinha Stadium when the lights went out. Literally.

Due to an error with the programming of the stadium lights, the KIF game was called at the end of the third quarter after referees determined there was not enough light for the players to safely finish the game.

Kapa‘a was leading 7-6.

The game, which started at 4:45 p.m., was supposed to end with the lights on. But because of a mistake by the Kaua‘i County grounds crew, the lights failed to turn on as darkness set in, said Beth Tokioka, director of communications for the Mayor’s Office.

“This past week our Public Works crew went out to re-program the lights to be sure they go off at the right times,” Tokioka said. “For whatever reason, these lights were programmed to go off when they shouldn’t have been.”

The county wired the lights around the island to turn off earlier due to the start of fledgling season for the endangered Newell’s shearwater, she said.

The shearwater season, which runs from Sept. 15 through Dec. 15, requires certain lights be shut off at night. The seabirds are drawn to the lights, which has led to their death.

The county is on probation from the Department of Justice and can be fined thousands of dollars each time one of these endangered birds dies because of the lights, Tokioka said.

“We have to do certain things in order to ensure we’re not harming the birds,” she said.

KIF had an agreement with the county to leave the lights on for Saturday night’s game, but Tokioka said they made a mistake and accidentally turned the stadium lights off.

While coaches and referees talked, officials scurried around to try to turn the lights on.

County Parks and Recreation Director Lenny Rapazo, who was reffing the game, managed to turn the light banks on the west end on, but the east side’s lights remained dark, Tokioka said. That’s when the refs decided to call the game to the displeasure of the crowd.

As for what happens with the game, representatives from both schools weren’t quite sure.

“In the 16 years I’ve been coaching here I’ve never seen anything like this,” Kapa‘a head coach Keli‘i Morgado said.

Morgado said he believes there’s a rule that states that the team leading after halftime wins the game should there be a need for postponement.

“My interpretation of the rules is that we’re now 2-0,” Morgado said.

Kapa‘a Athletic Director Greg Gonsalves said he stopped by his office after the game and took a look through a KIF rule book. While he said he first believed that Morgado’s interpretation of the rule was right, after looking at the book he said that might not be the case.

“It may be determined that the game is not final,” Gonsalves said. “If that’s the case, the game would be made up at the end of the season if it had a bearing on the outcome of the season.”

Calls left for Kaua‘i Complex Area Superintendent Bill Arakai weren’t returned by press time.

Morgado’s team struck first in the second quarter when quarterback John Das hit Reece Hickse-Whetzel for a 44-yard touchdown pass.

Both Kapa‘a and Kaua‘i’s defenses highlighted the rest of the first half.

Kaua‘i finally got on the board with their first drive of the second half.

The Red Raiders, who had struggled to move the ball all game, drove down the field on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that was capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Trey Aguano to Triston Bukoski. The drive took up nearly seven minutes on the clock and shifted the momentum towards the Red Raiders.

The touchdown should have tied the score, but Kaitlyn Rapozo’s extra point attempt was blocked by Kapa‘a, leaving the score at 7-6.

The Red Raiders had the ball and we’re threatening as the third quarter ended, but then the game was called.

“That was a momentum killer,” Aguano said. “We were playing really well and finally getting rolling.”

Whether or not the game will be called with the Raiders losing by one point, or if it will be resumed at a later date, Aguano said he was happy with how his team played.

“I’m very pleased with the way we came back in the second half,” Aguano said. “We’re finally getting it. Our defense played great and our offense was finally understanding it.”

Officials said they expect a meeting to take place at some point next week to determine the outcome of the game. The day of the meeting couldn’t be confirmed by press time.

See an upcoming edition of The Garden Island for more information as this story develops.

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