Lee and Jones have discussed leaving ILH

by Nick Abramo on April 19, 2017

A few weeks ago, Saint Louis head coach Cal Lee said he and June Jones discussed the possibility of bolting the ILH. Lee also made it clear that he didn't want to abandon his colleagues -- coaches Kale Ane at Punahou and Abu Maafala at Kamehameha. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

A few weeks ago, Saint Louis head coach Cal Lee said he and June Jones discussed the possibility of bolting the ILH. Lee also made it clear that he didn’t want to abandon his colleagues — coaches Kale Ane at Punahou and Abu Maafala at Kamehameha. Dennis Oda / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

It’s still only talk at this point.

Saint Louis football coach Cal Lee, who built the biggest dynasty in Hawaii high school football history, said he and June Jones of the school’s athletic department talked about the possibility of the Crusaders leaving the Interscholastic League of Honolulu

At that time a few weeks ago, the Lee/Jones discussion hadn’t advanced to the point where other ILH administrators were in on it. A little bit more than a passing thought is all — certainly not close to where it is now with serious talk among the league’s three Division I schools about fixing ILH, and possibly state, football so that the three top teams in the league do not have to face each other three or four times per season.

Read Dave Reardon‘s column in Thursday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser about the possible fixes.

One possibility, at least in Lee’s and Jones’ minds, is abandoning the ILH as it is and playing an independent schedule as soon as 2018.

Lee made it absolutely clear at the time that his biggest concern — one that would keep him away from taking the drastic step away from the ILH — were his colleagues at Punahou and Kamehameha. Namely, coaches Kale Ane and Abu Ma’afala. He does not want to abandon them.

Lee remarked that he was really fed up with having to play the Buffanblu and Warriors over and over again.

Lee is also quite irritated that the ILH did not have a coaches’ evaluation meeting after last season to discuss the 2017 schedule. As a result, a game he tried to schedule against Junipero Serra of San Mateo, Calif. — Tom Brady‘s alma mater — for early September conflicts with the start of the league season and he had to drop it.

“Why do we need to start the league so early?” Lee questioned. “You play two games and then you have a bye and then you play two more games and have another bye. And then there are some open dates later on before states, too. They know I felt this way. They didn’t have a meeting about it. They just made the schedule.”

A call on Wednesday to ILH executive director Blane Gaison for comment was not immediately returned.

All of this comes amid an important period in Hawaii high school football history. A new three-tier state tournament began last season, and the Hawaii High School Athletic Association is in the process of trying to make some changes for Year 2 of what began last season as a pilot program.

And on the backburner is that ever-present elephant in the room also known as the OIA-ILH alliance proposal in which the two leagues combine for the regular season. The ILH is all for it. The OIA is splt on it, with some who want it, some who don’t and some in the middle.

Here is Hawaii Prep World’s fictional example of what an OIA-ILH alliance could look like.

Despite the cries from Lee and others in the ILH, there are valid reasons in some people’s eyes why a merger is not in the best interest of everyone.

But the public appears to want it and it would help to ensure three separate tiers of relatively equal teams playing against each other. There is also the promise of excellent matchups with less blowouts every week. Equal competition against like-sized (physically and in enrollment) would also likely cut down on injuries.

And it certainly would appease Lee and Jones.

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

ILH makes their own rules anyway....... April 19, 2017 at 10:08 pm

Everybody talking and no one doing anything. The problem is the people running the ILH and OIA not being able to get on the same page. Why not do a pilot year and see what happens. If it doesn’t work then you revert back to the old ways or figure out another solution. It’s not rocket science. Cal Lee got it right but no one listening to him especially the guys in the ILH office. I hope that he decides to get out of the ILH and put more pressure on the to do something to create a better situation for all the teams involved.

Mahatma Gandhi April 20, 2017 at 2:37 am

St Lulu is a win-at-all-costs football program. So is Bishop Gorman of Las Vegas. Programs like that should be banned from competition. In fact, one Nevada legislator did introduce legislation to ban Bishop Gorman from competing in Nevada state tournaments. I am good friends with a former St Lulu All-Star football player from the 1970s. He tells me Cal Lee is the one behind St Lulu’s recruiting. It’s him who directs St Lulu alumni and personnel to scout out Samoan kids at Pop Warner games. He is the one who determines what scouts go to what playing field to scout young Samoans.

Hyn April 20, 2017 at 5:30 am

People always complaining that St. Louis recruits. Yeah they recruited back in the days when cal Lee first was coaching. If your son went there now you would know that those days are over. St. Louis won 2 state championships and 4 ILH in the past 10 years. The kids that will be starting this year most went there on their own or there family was alumni. So stop crying about recruiting because it ain’t like before

Stupid HHSAA April 20, 2017 at 7:52 am

@HYN… Trust me its the same and its gonna get back to where it was 25 yrs ago. Cal has been there for 2 years and already won another State championship, I mean bought it. STL might win the next 15 if he stays there and with June Jones behind him, who is gonna stop em. Another Dynasty is on the rise, the second coming of Cal. Unless Punahou changes their coaching staff they will never beat em. Kamehameha can’t get the same type of kids that those 2 schools can get so it will be hard to over come them more than once a year. Stl, Kam, and Pun are famous for stealing kids from other schools, (both private and public) when they recognize talent and the ILH officials don’t do a thing about it. It’s a joke that they continue to get away with it year after year.

Coach_B April 20, 2017 at 8:10 am

@StupidHHSAA
I think you and @HYN got some good points. STL recruiting isn’t what it was 25 years ago right now, but it definitely could be heading in that direction. Cal’s 1st yr or 2 brought in a lot of transfers from the OIA and neighbor islands like Vartic, Nichols and Slade-Matautia, but now we might start seeing the guys who were brought in during middle school and JV and might now be the starters. If those recruiting pipelines are anything like the old Cal Lee teams then PUN and KSK don’t have a chance without major changes of their own.

KSK has been having an unusual amount of coaching turnover over the last 10 yrs, so some stability might be good for them if Maafala sticks around. Stability might also be beneficial to their chances of keeping those athletes that they already have. For example, Kaniho starred for 2 years at Kahuku, but he was originally at KSK.

PUN is a completely different story. They have had an unusual amount of success in the 18 or so years that Kale Ane has been in charge over there, at least relative to their historic success, but they might have reached their ceiling with him. His biggest contribution to the team might have been to set up the recruiting infrastructure to bring in talent, both player talent and coaching talent, on a similar level to other ILH schools, but maybe not enough. You got former head coaches like Reggie Torres as position coaches who work with potential All-state talent like Noa, the Uluaves, Kaumatules, etc… However Ane isn’t considered an Xs & Os guy and I’ve heard that the staff is rife with political dysfunction because of the many alumni family ties within the staff and athletic dept. Ane might be respected, but PUN might need to make a change at the top or wait for him to retire and bring in someone to take them to the next level

bumbuchas April 20, 2017 at 12:29 pm

more power to the ILH FB schools w/their recruiting. it gives the recruit an opportunity to attend a private school in an environment very supportive of learning if the recruit wants to take advantage of the peer environment where academics is stressed. And if they want to take the B Track so to speak just to stay academically eligible to play sports, that’s their choice and the school’s choice to offer that less academic track. All of the private schools recruit, some more then others, some way better then others. it’s not limited only to the Big 3 and Iolani. St. Francis, Damien, Maryknoll in basketball, recruit heavily. Pac 5 to a lesser degree. if Athlete can get a free or drastically reduced tuition, good for them! The OIA has taken steps to address the Miano @Kaiser embarrassment of open blatant recruiting w/their new policy of “Transfers have to sit out a season if they played the sport in their previous year at their old school”. Now, they just recruit em before they hit the 9th grade to lock em in at their public school! That Kaiser HS embarrassment was unbelievable as it was common knowledge among many of open recruiting, terrible that the OIA AD’s did jack diddly squat to stop it then but thats for another discussion for another day.
This is why the OIA and ILH should never merge for regular season play. The public school pride mentality of the few bonafide Open Division Teams that can compete w/the ILH Teams, can only carry them so far. Yes, Kahuku, Mililani has won the state title in recent years but how long will that success carry on in the future? The ILH dominance will rise to the top because at the end of the day, the team with more bullets in their bigger guns, will win. Leave the league interplay for the State Tournament. BTW, only 6 teams w/#1, #2 teams w/1st round BYE? c’mon! give us a break! how fair is that?
BooHoo to the StarAdvertiser’s writers; Abramo, Honda, Reardon, of trying to rile up the public masses to put pressure on the OIA to merge. Why you think the HNL city public schools (Farr, McK, Kaim, Kalani, Roos) left the old ILH in the 1st place?

??? April 20, 2017 at 1:36 pm

If STL leaves the ILH they wont be able to recruit or will the teams who join their so called top division be able to recruit also?
Cal Lee cannot win without recruiting “fact”
He doesn’t recruit like before is a joke:)

Paul Honda April 20, 2017 at 1:47 pm

For the record, I was strongly in favor of a “Super Conference” back in 2000, or so when I interviewed then-OIA executive director Dwight Toyama about a number of topics. Since then, I admit I’ve been more moderate about merging the leagues for football. There’s something to be said for holding off interleague play until the state tournament. And it’s entirely plausible that the rich will get richer by luring public-school (middle school) athletes to private schools, using merged-league play as a carrot. This, of course, is the stigma attached to recruiting by the private schools during the 1960s, which in turn led to the public schools pulling out of the ILH to join country schools to form the OIA as we know it today.

I’m not against interleague play nor am I against the wonderfully pupule notion that top football programs here would or could form a Trans-Pacific league with some West Coast schools. Even if it lasted just one year, it would be a wonderful pilot program, even in failure. Or it could be the next step in prep athletics evolution in the islands. Most of all, I’d like to see merged-league play in Division II and III — where it is needed MOST.

??? April 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm

@ Paul Honda,
Would you let super conference teams recruit or not? It has to be a level playing field to be in the same conference. Do you agree?

islandman April 20, 2017 at 5:13 pm

The reason(s) for the OIA pulling out of the old ILH is still there as Honda states. An unfair recruiting advantage for the private schools.
So when Reardon says there is ” there’s no good reason why the three upper echelon ILH schools shouldn’t be playing the top six or seven in the OIA each year in the regular season,”
there is one very good reason.

Coach_B April 20, 2017 at 5:13 pm

@???
I agree that the super conference would only work with an even playing field, but realistically you wouldn’t be able to make an enforceable recruiting ban because of the fact that ILH isn’t geographically restricted at all. You only need to look as far as the championship Mililani team to see that recruiting happens in the OIA even with geographic restrictions.

88 April 20, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Who cares if they recruit! Don’t you guys get it? The KIDS are the ones who benefit from this. Are we looking out for the kids or are we more worried about bragging rights? If you want your kids and team to get better you have them play against the BEST competition available. Let St. Louis and Punahou recruit. Our kids and coaches get better by playing them.

??? April 20, 2017 at 5:43 pm

@88
Did the kids get better when STL won 14 Prep Bowls in a row? I don’t think so.

Mahatma Gandhi April 20, 2017 at 6:53 pm

???, I thought it was 15 straight Prep Bowl championships for St Louis from 1986 to 2000. It was sick! They totally destroyed the competitive balance of Hawaii state high school football. So loaded was St Lulu that even their 3rd team would have won the Prep Bowl. I can give you 2 examples of their recruited depth. Starting QB Jason Gesser goes down for the year with an injury. The replacement: Timmy Chang who would go on to set the NCAA career passing mark. Another time, the starting LB breaks his leg and is out for the year. The replacement off the bench: Joe Siofele out of Waipahu, who would go on to get a Pac-10 football scholarship at Arizona.

88 April 20, 2017 at 8:56 pm

@????- Yeah they did. Kahuku has been to 11 State Title games and won 8. Leilehua has been to 3 and won 1. Mililani has been to 2 and won 1. Castle and Waianae have made it to the title game also. All this because for 14 years they were getting their lunch handed to them by St. Louis. But instead of running from the competition they trained harder, learned from defeat and came back better and stronger. Any other dumb questions?

88 April 20, 2017 at 9:04 pm

@Ghandi- Maybe for you the competitive balance was destroyed but for us here on the North Shore it just made us work even harder. That’s why when we win it means more. You wouldn’t understand and I don’t expect you too.

Coach_B April 20, 2017 at 9:21 pm

@88
You gotta remember the context of all of those Kahuku, Mililani, Leileihua title appearances and championships… They were all pretty much in the years when Cal Lee left STL for UH. He was the linchpin for the whole STL dynasty. When he left so too did the recruits, many of whom stayed back in their respective districts or to other OIA powers around Oahu. Don’t you get that Kahuku can thank a lot of their recent success on the decline of the STL dynasty and the inability for any other ILH power to fill the void? I’d argue that a lot of those players that carried the Kahuku dynasty would’ve been scooped up by Lee if he had never left STL. Moving forward I’d like to see how Kahuku responds to the return of STL because now you have STL and PUN recruiting kids out of their district. Thats why nobody thinks a super conference can work… you think it you can win at Kahuku if the ILH steals all your players? We have merely seen the beginning of the STL recruiting machine

Mahatma Gandhi April 20, 2017 at 9:39 pm

88, you really think if McKinley football players just “worked more hard”, that they could then beat St Lulu?!

Hyn April 20, 2017 at 9:46 pm

Can you guys stop crying about recruiting and making it a level playing field. It’s never going to be fare . Just like life you don’t like it stop crying and do something about it. If the ILH leaves and makes there own conference with the mainland it’s only going to hurt Hawaii football and especially the kids from the OIA. If you think they recruiting now watch what happens when they play the mainland teams kids are going to be lining up to go there.

88 April 20, 2017 at 10:10 pm

Coach B have you been living in Hawaii the past 17 years? Kahuku’s first 2 State Titles were against Coach Cal. Frannsico, Pula, Fonoimoana, Hafoka, Esera, Atuaia, Kemoeatu, Lautaha, Manumaleuna, Mapu, Moe, Funaki, Soli’ai, Livai, Tufaga(two older brothers are crusader alums), Hiu, etc… These are all kids who played and beat Coach Cal during his time. None got scooped up. St. Louis and Punahou have been recruiting kids out of our district since Adam and Eve and still the kids who stay win. If 10 of our kids are blessed enough to be recruited by Punahou or St. Louis we got 10 right behind them that step up.

Gandhi- Yes. It aint going to happen over night though. You got to go through the fire to be a champion. Winning is born from losing. Like i said you wouldn’t understand. You want everything easy with as little resistance as possible.

grabum.bythe.puppy.gate April 20, 2017 at 10:14 pm

the only level plane field is all head coaches knowledge of game, the winner coache just recruit better , coff coff cal lee only win by recruiting. now jj try be significant in high school industry smh

grabum.bythe.puppy.gate April 20, 2017 at 10:25 pm

see cal lee cry in this article n whine, pun n kam in same situation but no cry, all stlulu alumni put pressur on cal dass why. stlulu is winatallcost program n screw everyone else

grabum.bythe.puppy.gate April 20, 2017 at 10:32 pm

@hyn look i no see line at bishop gorman cuz they only want u if u r stud all others eat kaka, aks all kahuku player dat left pun n stluiu bcuz they not stud n be treated like kaka. n bg no make nevada football better mo worse.
cal lee invite stud drink from his kava bowl n junk player go drink kava bowl with slug inside

The Watcher April 20, 2017 at 10:56 pm

??? April 20, 2017 at 2:19 pm
@ Paul Honda,
Would you let super conference teams recruit or not? It has to be a level playing field to be in the same conference. Do you agree?

Are you serious? So you are saying that Alabama and Vanderbilt should have the same level paying field to recruit since they play in the same conference? Are you insane? So each school should be given the same alumni support, money, resources, equipment, and facilities so it’s fair since they are in the same conference.

I don’t believe you wrote that publicly.

Coach_B April 21, 2017 at 7:08 am

@88
In a matter of fact I have been in Hawaii for that time. We’re you living in Hawaii from 1989-1999 when Kahuku was a combined 0-6 against STL in Prep bowls and HHSAA championships? If you were keeping track, that leaves Kahuku at 3-7 against STL in Prep Bowls/State title games over Cal Lee’s 2 tenures. Compare that to their 7-1 record between Lee’s tenures. I’m the last person to root for STL, but can’t you see that if you look at all the information, then even with all those kids hard work STLs recruiting won more often than not…

HD April 21, 2017 at 10:48 am

You guys don’t even know what you are talking about. I know some of the best football players that came to St Louis from the North Shore, matter of fact I know all of em, and I can tell you straight up that none of them were recruited by Cal Lee. We wanted to go there and that is what’s happening now. People WANT to play for St Louis and Coach Cal. I never post on this site but I felt that I needed to set the record straight.

Education First April 21, 2017 at 11:01 am

Kahuku beat STL in the second HHSAA State Tourney after Cal Lee was at the end of his first tenure at STL. The man was worn down and left. He tried other things and it looks like being at STL is his first love. Now he is getting back into the swing of things and the momentum is slowly swinging back in his favor in a very short time.

Hyn April 21, 2017 at 1:32 pm

@HD that’s the same thing I was trying to say. My son goes there now and I can say all the kids in his class were not recruited. Either there family member is an alumni or they wanted to go there.

HD April 21, 2017 at 1:51 pm

@Hyn
I guess it gives them some sort of comfort by talking about recruiting, but no one has actual proof that anyone was recruited. St Louis doesn’t have the funds to recruit.

grabum.bythe.puppy.gate April 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm

why do player want to go ilh? cuz better resources aka recruit leverage and public school suck kaka so no good alliance oia ilh cuz playing field uneven. keep ilh away no combine oia

Knation April 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm

@HD funny you say that but st.Louis and punahou tried to recruit my cousin couple years ago. He ended up staying at Kahuku for his freshman year than left to utah this past year. He just moved back to hawaii and will be a red raider this coming year

Mahatma Gandhi April 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm

HD, get real. How all the St Louis football players from Mayor Wright housing was able to afford St Lulu tuition?! You tell me. I told you all on this board before that I am really good friends with a St Lulu alum 1st team ILH All-Star football player from the 1970s. He confided to me that Cal Lee is the one at the center of all the recruiting done by St Lulu. He determines what scouts go to what fields to watch certain young Samoan players in Pop Warner play. He also confided to me that Cal Lee was quietly let go by St Lulu back in 2001. I immediately asked him why that was so, and he just shrugged his shoulders. His body language told me he confided in me way more than he should have, and that I should accept it, and not ask him any more why Cal Lee was eased out. He didn’t say it verbally, but his body language said it. So I let it go, never again asked him why St Lulu didn’t want Cal Lee back.

The Watcher April 21, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Everyone is full or crap without using their real names. So my cousin’s uncle’s neighbor’s newspaper’s boy’s aunty when tell me her niece’s lanai cousin got recruited by Cal Lee from KPT.

Wassup now?

No names, no proof, no believe. What happened to providing evidence? Anyway can say anything without any evidence.

Knation April 21, 2017 at 4:20 pm

@the watcher dude I know you calling me out on this. Reason! I don’t want to use my cousin name on here because I don’t want anyone to be bashing on him. St.louis recruiter is already an assistant coach for laie park raiders that’s how my cousin was being recruited. Much as I want to say his name so you can stop crying I will not do that to him.

islandman April 21, 2017 at 4:34 pm

I bet many athletes that go to St Louis, Punahou and Kam get financial aid ? Even though some may have not been recruited. That is the unfair advantage of the private schools going against the public schools, not only Kahuku. Kahuku won in spite of the unfair advantage of the private schools. How much financial aid does Kahuku or any school like Farrington or McKinley give out ? The public schools don’t have access to as many players state -wide like the big private schools.
Kahuku did “recruit” a couple basketball players, but not much financial aid given out, i assume.
How does the mainland handle their private and public school football ? Just asking .

Knation April 21, 2017 at 4:41 pm

@the watcher my sister cousin brother aunty is being recruited too. Cal Lee cousins from Japan who’s sister with my uncle’s wife dog told me so.

islandman April 21, 2017 at 4:48 pm

” Being allowed to recruit elite athletes, however, should eliminate Gorman from competing against public schools who are limited by public school rules. ”
http://thegrizzlygrowler.com/2016/10/24/unfair-advantage-should-eliminate-bishop-gorman-from-d4a-competition/

Hyn April 21, 2017 at 6:23 pm

Mahatma recruiting at mayor wright housing is old news. That don’t happen anymore like I said. Ever since pat hamamoto changed the curriculum at St. Louis a lot of kids couldn’t make it. Yeah they offer financial aid but what private school doesn’t. Look at the kids that’s getting offered from St. Louis now they qualify for good schools. Back in the days it was all about sports but now it’s balanced.

grabum.bythe.puppy.gate April 21, 2017 at 7:58 pm

same true gorman and stluu n puns, play in ur own division no pick on public school

http://thegrizzlygrowler.com/2016/10/24/unfair-advantage-should-eliminate-bishop-gorman-from-d4a-competition/

??? April 23, 2017 at 8:56 pm

@the watcher
. All I said is if stl leave to play in super conference, all conference teams should be able to recruit. Level playing field is not Alabama against Alabama State. Donkey?

Klay kauka May 12, 2017 at 6:55 am

Schools with the money should look at joining a high school league from cali or Oregon. All this arguing is all for nothing cause it stops at our shores. The whole point of it all is for our athletes to be recognized just as much as any other in the country. It would be really expensive but so is rail right. If we don’t take risks then we deserve what we get.

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