Hawaii’s three-tier football state tournament is likely to be kept for 2017 and beyond after being run on a pilot basis for 2016.
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s football committee has met twice this offseason to discuss ways to improve what turned out to be a successful pilot season in which Saint Louis, Mililani and Lahainaluna won the Open, Division I and D-II championships.
“The committee is discussing the size of the tournament divisions, the seeding formula and declarations (schools and leagues choosing which teams go in which division),” HHSAA executive director Chris Chun said. “They will meet one more time to come up with a proposal to submit at the (Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association) meeting this summer.”
To become reality, any proposed changes to the tournament would have to be passed at HIADA and then approved by the HHSAA executive board.
Chun said Hawaii’s five leagues (the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, the Oahu Interscholastic Association, the Maui Interscholastic League, the Big Island Interscholastic Federation and the Kauai Interscholastic Federation) are working together to make the three-tier tournament a reality again for 2017.
Prior to the HHSAA football committee’s third meeting, which is scheduled for mid-April, the committee members will be getting feedback from the leagues on the possible format changes.
Last season, the Open and D-II tournaments had six teams each, with eight teams in D-I.
What Chun termed as “declarations” is an interesting topic. Due to the speed in which the pilot program was installed (in August of the 2016 regular season), some teams did not know which division they’d be playing in until their league seasons were nearly done. As an example of that, the OIA put its Division I quarterfinal winners in the state Open Division and its quarterfinal losers in the D-I states.
Requiring a declaration by all teams for one of the three divisions before the season starts is an obvious proposal possibility.
It was reported last month that the OIA, which has been a two-tier league for many years, is discussing changing to three tiers for 2018, presumably to align itself with state classification.
This three-tier trend is partly in response to numerous blowout games in the past few years, with obviously weaker teams playing regular-season games against perennial powerhouses.
Prior to the 2016 season, there had been a movement for the OIA and ILH to form an alliance in which the two leagues would combine to form a three-tier system that would feed into a three-tier state tournament. That proposal, which would have provided $1 million annually for the 29 football-playing high schools on Oahu, was passed unanimously by the ILH, but was not acted upon by the OIA.
According to sources close to the HHSAA football committee, that OIA-ILH alliance proposal has not been officially discussed since and it is not known whether or not a push for it will come in the future.