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Record HS Football Blowout Prompts Mercy Rule Change

Paul Steinbach

In the immediate wake of Hilo High School's record-setting 104-0 victory over Waiakea on Saturday, Hawaii's Big Island Interscholastic Federation took steps to ensure such lopsided scores are rare.

As reported by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald, BIIF athletic directors voted earlier this week to amend the mercy rule. A running clock will be implemented immediately once a 35-point differential is reached in a game, not just in the second half as under the previous rule. During the game in question, Hilo had scored 83 first-half points.

There have been two games this season where running time could have been instituted in the first quarter. In addition to Saturday’s blowout, the most lopsided first-quarter score occurred Aug. 29 when Kamehameha led 47-0 against Pahoa. In the second quarter, the Warriors elected to kick a field goal on first-and-goal rather than pursue another touchdown.

In both of those games, officials used a true running clock in the second half, waiving the normal mercy rule criteria in which time is only stopped in four instances — SPIT (scoring, penalties, injuries and timeout).

BIIF football coordinator Kalei Namohala, the athletic director at Ka’u High School, said Wednesday that games could continue to be played with the running clock not stopping if agreed upon by both schools’ administrators.

The unevenness in the league this season was apparent well before Hilo became the first BIIF team to reach triple digits. Of the 17 games played between BIIF teams, including two non-league contests, 14 have been played under the mercy rule.

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