At just past 6:20 p.m. on Friday, there was a loud boom and a flash of lightning near Santa Ana Stadium.
A lightning bolt had struck a tree outside the stadium. Players were instructed to leave the field. Soon there was pouring rain, and fans who had started to gather in the stands for the Trinity League showdown between No. 2 Santa Ana Mater Dei and No. 1 Bellflower St. John Bosco scattered for cover.
As if the game of the year in high school football needed to generate any more excitement, this rare Southern California weather outburst added to the suspense. Unfortunately, the lightning persisted and the game was canceled just before 8 p.m.
It has been rescheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Santa Ana Stadium. Fox Sports West will televise Saturday’s game.
“This stinks,” St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro said during a meeting on the field among game officials. “It’s something we can’t control, but the safety of parents, players, spectators is most important.”
What happened on Friday might be unprecedented in Southern California high school football history. The lightning storm spread from Orange County to Los Angeles County, forcing other high school football games to be halted and rescheduled.
“This is from the department of the bizarre,” said CalHiSports editor Mark Tennis, who came from Northern California for the Mater Dei-St. John Bosco game.
The lightning caused delays and cancellations across the Southland, with the Orange Lutheran-San Juan Capistrano JSerra game postponed until 10:30 a.m Saturday. Fans of the Trinity League can watch a doubleheader on Saturday like baseball.
San Clemente will play Capistrano Valley at 10 a.m. Saturday.
One reason for the cancellations is a national rule that you have to wait 30 minutes after hearing thunder or seeing lightning. The rain stopped on Friday but lightning continued.
Five City Section games were postponed — Palisades-Venice, Carson-Gardena, Fremont-View Park, Crenshaw-Hawkins and San Pedro-Banning. The Venice-Palisades game will resume at 4 p.m. Saturday at Venice with the Gondoliers leading 10-0.
“Safety for the student-athletes and fans is of utmost importance,” said City Section Sports Information Director Dick Dornan, who was at the Palisades-Venice game. “The decision to postpone the game by the Venice administration was the right move.”
The outcome of the Mater Dei-St. John Bosco game will pretty much wrap up the No. 1 seed for the Southern Section Division 1 playoffs that begin next month. The losing team will probably have to face currently unbeaten Corona Centennial in the semifinals. Centennial has given the Braves and Monarchs problems in recent years. Centennial won Division 1 titles in 2014 and 2015.
Of course, that’s perhaps looking too far ahead. Each team has two league games left. But first the lightning has to end in usually sunny Southern California.