High School Football

Lightning wreaks havoc on metro-east high school football games

Lightning and rain postpone high school football games

Belleville East Athletic Director Mark Larsen explains the IHSA rule for delaying high school football games and the logistics of getting them rescheduled.
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Belleville East Athletic Director Mark Larsen explains the IHSA rule for delaying high school football games and the logistics of getting them rescheduled.

For the second time in three weeks Friday, dangerous weather conditions impacted the high-school football schedule in the metro-east.

Severe lightning caused several postponements, including the Granite City (1-1) at Belleville East (0-2) and Belleville West (0-2) at O’Fallon (1-1) games. Both were to be Southwestern Conference openers.

The Granite City at Belleville East game has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Belleville East. The Belleville West-O’Fallon game will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Belleville West. The field at O’Fallon is unavailable for the game because of a band competition.

Belleville East Athletics Director Mark Larsen said Illinois High School Association rules mandate a 30-minute delay each time lightning is spotted. Lightning never subsided in Belleville or O’Fallon, and there was no indication it would.

“If you hear thunder or see lightning, it’s a 30-minute delay each time,” Larsen said. “That’s the problem. Even though it hasn’t rained, we still have lightning here behind us and that’s why we decided to cancel and play Saturday.”

The lightning, said Larsen, doesn’t necessarily have to be nearby. If it can be seen as a flicker in the distance, it’s close enough.

“If you see lightning, it doesn’t matter how far away it is,” Larsen said. “If you see it or hear it, it’s close enough to hit you and, therefore, we have to go with the 30-minute delay. That’s where we’re at from the 7 o’clock start time tonight to deciding to cancel here now at 8:30.”

Larsen said rescheduling a game is complicated. On Saturday, for example, many students, including football players, are taking the ACT exam, which prevented games from being rescheduled for the afternoon. Securing officials can also be problematic.

“People don’t understand the logistics of trying to move a football game,” Larsen said. “The challenge is two-fold for us (Saturday). A lot of the officiating crews do other games – underclass stuff in the mornings and college games in the afternoons. So we’re in the boat with all the other conference schools trying to find crews.

“We’re all in the same boat. Most of them are taking ACTs (Saturday), and it’s a big day for a lot of our players. We have to take that into account. Some of them are taking it in the morning through the afternoon. That’s why we’re playing a 7 p.m. game.”

The game at O’Fallon was postponed a little before 8 p.m., but it wasn’t determined until about a half-hour later that the game would be played at West.

▪ Althoff’s game at Mater Dei was postponed and has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday in Breese. Both teams are 2-0, and Althoff has twice scored more than 50 points.

▪ Another Southwestern Conference game, Edwardsville (2-0) at Collinsville (0-2), was suspended with 1:37 to play in the first quarter and Edwardsville holding a 21-0 lead.

That game will be resumed at 10 a.m. Saturday in Collinsville.

▪ Lightning also postponed the Freeburg at Central game, which was rescheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday.

Freeburg (1-1) opened Cahokia Conference play last Friday by losing to Carlyle. Central (2-0), ranked 14th in the Class 3A state poll, won its league opener a week ago at Dupo.

▪ The Carbondale at Waterloo game was postponed by lightning and rescheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday.

▪ The Nashville at Wesclin game also was postponed. It has been rescheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.

▪ The Red Bud at Carlyle game was postponed and rescheduled for noon Saturday.

Some schools opted to wait out the threatening weather. In Troy, the Triad Knights and Mount Vernon Rams resumed in the first quarter at 9:30 p.m. The Highland at Effingham game also resumed after a lengthy delay.