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Cameron Smith

Football game starts at 11 p.m. on school night, ends next day

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

It's not unheard of for a long, drawn-out high school football game to finish at 11 p.m. A high school game starting at 11 p.m., on the other hand, is a different matter, particularly on a school night.

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Amazingly, that's exactly what happened in West Texas last Thursday, when Tascosa (Texas) High (near Amarillo) travelled to Lubbock Coronado High. According to the Amarillo Globe-News, the game was scheduled to start at 7:30, but it encountered lengthy delays due to a string of weather maladies.

First there was hail. Then strong rains made starting the game impossible, and lighting moved in shortly thereafter, further delaying an official kickoff.

By the time the weather finally calmed down, it was 11 p.m. and the teams had to face either moving the game to another date or starting with a late kickoff. They chose the latter, for logistical reasons.

"It's 7:30 somewhere else in the world, right?" Tascosa linebacker Alejandro Magallanes told the Globe-News. "We wanted to play."

Yet it's questionable whether Lubbock Coronado, the home team for the matchup at Lubbock's Lowrey Field, was really still ready to put up a significant effort at 11 p.m. Tascosa breezed to a surprisingly easy 51-7 win, jumping out to an early lead and then holding on through a second half that technically began in a new day.

"I take full credit [for the loss]," Coronado coach Butch Henderson told the Globe-News. "We did not come down the hill ready to play. I think it's the worst performance I've ever put on as a coach. And I take full credit because whatever we did sitting up here we didn't come down ready to get after it like we are capable."

Henderson's Tascosa counterpart also said he believed the delay affected his team's opponent.

"The strangeness of the game, the late start and everything about it," Tascosa coach Ken Plunk told the Globe-News. "I think once it kind of started going bad [for Coronado] it was tough to get back going at midnight."

Because of the ridiculously late kickoff, players from Tascosa didn't get home until after 4 a.m., then had to turn around just hours later and go back to school, a scenario that also encumbered other students and parents who travelled to the game, 157 miles away.

While any number of Tascosa students, teachers and fans were upset by those Friday hardships, a pair of conditions made moving the game particularly difficult. First, the teams would have been unable to play the game the next day because two other games were already scheduled for Lowrey Field. A band competition had the facility booked all Saturday, so two days later wasn't an option, either.

If both teams agreed to a neutral site -- or even moving the game back to Tascosa -- they still would have had to locate officials for the game, with nearly all state-certified 5A officials already booked working other games on both Friday and Saturday.

Given the distance between the two schools, trying to agree on a makeup date in the immediate future -- the season is nearly over, after all -- seemed like a longshot, and, as the Globe-News points out, there is not technically a UIL or district rule mandating that all games began in one day finish in the same day. That made an 11 p.m. kickoff possible, and both coaches eventually decided the 11 p.m. option was the best one on the table.

Whether their players felt the same way is another question. After all, they were the ones who had to get back to school the next day ... or face whatever punishment would come from skipping classes.

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