4-time D-II champ Lahainaluna has same answer for critics

Lahainaluna holds the championship trophy after winning the 2019 HHSAA Division II state championship. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

Garret Tihada said it last year and Dean Rickard repeated it Thursday.

When fans criticize the Lahainaluna Lunas for not moving up from Division II to Division I, those coaches have an answer.

Rickard, a co-head coach of the four-time defending D-II state football champion Lunas along with Bobby Watson this year, confirmed that the team’s stance has not changed.

“We as coaches all agree that if the MIL sent an overall champion to the D-I state tournament and the runner-up to D-II, we would be all for it,” Rickard said via cell phone. “But we don’t have control over it. The league and the administrators decide what divisions teams are in. They do it according to student body and we fit in D-II under that.

“Yeah, we would play in D-I if that was the format, like Garret said last year. A lot of people don’t know we were D-I at one time and beat a really solid Mililani team in the quarterfinals one yaar (41-34 in 2004).”

In order for Lahainaluna’s suggested format to be instituted, league and state rules would need to be altered.

Tihada, who was still a part of the Lunas’ staff this year, relinquished his co-head coaching role after last season to Rickard in order to, as he says, be a “soccer mom,” carting his kids to their practices.

If Lahainaluna’s proposed system for sending teams to states had been in effect this year, the Lunas would have participated in D-I. The team that went to D-I states, Baldwin, may not have been successful enough to get to D-II states. The Bears (5-3) had the same record as Kamehameha-Maui (a D-II classified school) in the league and they were 1-1 head to head, so a playoff game would have been necessary.

“A league’s best teams should go to states,” Rickard said. “We think teams like Kamehameha-Maui should be considered to be rewarded for having a successful season.”

As it worked out this year, the Warriors lost to Lahainaluna twice and finished three games behind the Lunas in the MIL D-II standings.

Lahainaluna, which finished at No. 7 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10, wrapped up its 11-1 season with a 21-10 victory over Kapaa in the D-II state title game on Nov. 29 at Aloha Stadium.

Tihada, the soccer mom, may eventually take on an increased role, according to both him and Rickard — such as offensive coordinator or a return to being co-head coach.

“It depends on his availability,” Rickard said.

Note: This story has been edited to reflct that in order for Lahainaluna to have its preferred format implemented, then league and state rules would first half to change.


  1. ILoveHawaii December 5, 2019 1:06 pm

    – its out of their hands
    – their school size designates them to Div 2
    – when they was in D1, they beat a solid Millilani team
    – they introduced a format where the they wouldnt have to designate what division they would be competing for, unlike all other leagues in the state, and create a safety net for themselves to go to states if they finish first or second.
    – the previous co-head coach is a soccer mom now

    Maybe one day they will find the courage to move up to Division 1.
    Bte, I think they have a sale going on at Champs at the mall.
    Shoes, apparel, hats and even BALLS for every sport.

  2. Kim C December 5, 2019 1:35 pm

    ILoveHawaii – do you not understand basic English? I don’t know how much simpler it can be explained, but judging by your response you obviously lack basic reading & writing comprehension. By the way, it’s BTW. Maybe Barnes & Noble has some Hooked on Phonics on sale you can pick up.

  3. Vili December 5, 2019 1:36 pm

    Don’t worry they do have courage. Just hoping the AD would at least discuss something.

  4. Watson C December 5, 2019 1:44 pm

    Wow they explained it perfectly and people still no get it. Like seriously. Enough with the trashing.

  5. TheRim December 5, 2019 3:09 pm

    ILoveHawaii-No words to describe a person like you. Maybe try medication for your brain fart.

  6. Cryhyn December 5, 2019 3:45 pm

    Ilovehawaii, is ILH.

  7. Cynhyn December 5, 2019 3:47 pm

    A serial troll since 2010

  8. Give me a break December 5, 2019 3:52 pm

    Sorry not buying it. Just because it’s written in an article doesn’t make it fact Kim C. The truth is IF they wanted to play D1 they would. It’s up to the AD and head coach, in this case co-head coaches and nobody else. Not buying the excuses. Enrollment size plays a big part but you can always play up, just not down unless approved. Look at Kahuku, small enough enrollment for D2 but playing in the open. Baldwin’s enrollment is too big for D2 so let’s give up on this excuse of a proposal to to the MIL to send the runner up to D2. Too bad because I know the kids want to play D1. Btw all the other Lahainaluna shorts programs play D1 hmmmm!!!

  9. ILoveHawaii December 5, 2019 4:13 pm

    Typo sistah, typo.

    Cheekiness aside. I continue to disagree with their belief that they cannot go up to Div. 1 and be competitive. They have offered many different reasons they feel like they dont belong in Div 1(in this article and previous) and I disagree with the notion that the talent drop year by year is as uncertain as they proclaim it to be. Um, 4 peat, hello!!!! I strongly believe that they are well coached, have a roster of physical and well disciplined players that would beat teams in Div 1.

    No where in this article does it say, “We believe that our program has achieved all it can in Div 2 and can compete in Div 1”. Or any other article does it say, “we dont want to be in Div 2 any more because we want to compete at the highest level we can”.

    At least thats the one thing I give Coach C from Waipahu, he has his sights set on competing at the highest level and truly, I think, would be that way at any school he coached at.

    Names people?? Ah cmon.
    BTW, I was ILH until some Lolo started using that name so ILoveHawaii was born.

    Another BTW, what division would Kahuku be if based on student body?

  10. Kim C December 5, 2019 4:20 pm

    Give Me A Break – I’m sorry but were you not watching the same Spectrum broadcast I was? When Jordan Helle explained why Lunas aren’t in Division 1. Can you also acknowledge the fact that Lahainaluna football doesn’t fill roster slots like Division 1 schools? Majority of the players are two-way players. How many players does it take to fill a volleyball, basketball, baseball or softball roster? Figure it out, the math isn’t hard.
    Let me dumb it down for you: the MIL doesn’t like the format that is proposed because it prevents Baldwin & Maui High from having a chance at state title contention. And why you preaching to me about “if it’s written in an article doesn’t make it a fact”….tell that to your friend up there who chose to bullet point “facts”.
    Enjoy the rest of the year, and see you next season!

  11. ILoveHawaii December 5, 2019 4:20 pm


    Hey buddy. Happy Holidays!!!
    Brain fart, you crack me off!!!

  12. Give me a break December 5, 2019 5:36 pm

    Kim C. Sorry I didn’t here Jordan’s excuse for lahainaluna not playing D1, please enlighten me. Doesn’t fill roster spots like other D1 schools? Correct, they actually fill the roster better than most D1’s and you can talk about the talent drop off year by year being uncertain would apply to all schools. Prevents Baldwin and Maui High from having a chance at states title contention??? Let me dumb it down for you: we’re talking division 1 not Open Division. There is NO reason why Baldwin, Maui High and Lahainaluna can’t compete for a DI title, case in pointy Hilo. News flash, Hilo has been in the D1 finals each of the past three years winning two of them. I know that’s what the players want, too bad a couple coaches don’t. Still like to give props to the kids, great job, great accomplishment for some really great and hard working kids. Congratulations!

  13. Wainakea December 5, 2019 11:10 pm

    Hilo always has issues filling their roster and yet they make it to the playoffs. And don’t give me the delusional excuse of “Oh but MIL has a stronger schedule” because they don’t. Even Kealakehe could beat this year’s Baldwin. Lahainaluna is a really good team with outstanding linemen. They would be more than competitive in D1, and looking at how bad the D1 teams on Maui have been the past decade , it’s time they make a swap or at least be like other leagues where you can declare for divisions on a yearly basis. The concern is probably that Baldwin or Maui will declare for D2 in some sports, but that is another issue unrelated to MIL football.

  14. MIL December 6, 2019 2:53 am

    Waina your Hilo team struggled with Leilehua barely winning and trailed Iolani whole game practically. Lunas would shut Hilo down and have been a better team than Hilo last 3 years. Your team played a junk BIIF schedule with no good competition. Don’t forget a Hilo lost to Konawaena in 2017 and that was D 2 team then. Go schedule someone in preseason. Lunas are a better team than Hilo and have proven it with 4 titles in a row.

  15. Watufaka December 6, 2019 6:46 am

    Just battle D1 champions Hilo vs Luna’s and let it stand…..

  16. Vakeleo December 6, 2019 6:48 am

    Iolani stayed out like forever before moving up to d1, just saying. And they have a small enrollment, so , yeah.

  17. amela December 6, 2019 8:30 am

    Then move Iolani to open division.

  18. IloveHawaii December 6, 2019 8:45 am


    Why would we move Iolani to Open??

  19. The Rim December 6, 2019 8:53 am

    Teams don’t see that style of offense that is executed to perfection, all season. So when they get to the State playoffs it’s really hard to scheme and get the kids to adjust. Konawaena had success because they’re tough against the run and this year I felt if they stayed down DII they would have a good chance in States. Next year will be a test for the Luna’s.

  20. ILoveHawaii December 6, 2019 9:11 am

    Ok. So whats the excuse for the Maui teams that have seen this scheme for the past few years?
    How have they not been able to adjust and be more successful against the Lunas?

  21. The Rim December 6, 2019 10:00 am

    If you read my post, I said executed perfectly, and I have seen closer games against KSM and last year against Maui. Seeing it and stopping it is two different things and I’ve noticed they added a pretty good play action when you load the box. Bottom line is they’re well coached and execute they’re offense well. Do I think they should be DII? Absolutely not! They could easily compete at the DI level and should.

  22. BANG December 6, 2019 11:05 am

    In what way does your comment remotely make sense

  23. Give me a break December 6, 2019 12:34 pm

    MIL you’re proving our point. Nobody is disputing Lunas are better than Hilo (well besides maybe Hilo people), but Hilo is the team that has been in the D1 finals 3 consecutive years winning two of them. Real question, would like anybody’s opinion. What is better, two D1 titles or 4 peat at D2? I’d prefer 2 D1 titles personally.

  24. FBFan December 6, 2019 1:24 pm

    MIL, So Lahaina is better then Hilo? The same Lahaina team that lost to Damien 38-31, who in turn lost to Iolani TWICE! What makes you so sure that Lahaina would shut Hilo down? From the looks of it a much less talented Kapaa team moved the ball well enough from my view of the game.

    You talk of the BIIF being weak. BIIF 2nd best team (Kona) is probably better then almost every MIL team outside of Lahaina and would probably be competitive with them this season.

    You trying to put down quality programs like Leilehua and Iolani to make your argument. You definitely didn’t go to law school. Don’t quit your day job.

  25. Maui No Can Oe December 6, 2019 1:31 pm

    Sandbaggers always have an excuse. Guess what? Iolani did move up after the kept winning in the baby division. They played Punahou, Saint Loius and Kam school for 2 years. Then with the new divisions they went to D1. Unlike the Lunas who hide in D2. Declare at the beginning of the season like everyone else you plugs. Lunas already beating the D1 teams on Maui time to move up. All we hear is excuses. Our school is small, well so is Kahukus and they in the Open. Move up or shut up clowns

  26. FBFan December 6, 2019 3:20 pm

    Eh MIL, here’s Hilo’s preseason scheduling recently:

    2015: Punahou AND Kapalama
    2016: STL
    2017: Iolani
    2018: Campbell

    Oh and btw…. they out-gained Iolani 388-155 and held them to 35 yards rushing on 20+ carries. Same Iolani squad who beat a quality D1 OIA Champion Moanalua team 35-9 a week earlier.

    Go do your homework and then comeback, clown.

  27. MIL December 6, 2019 6:11 pm

    FB FAN Hilo didnt play anyone in 2019 preseason! Was it because they got crushed in past years!? Hehe you one clown! Lunas had small kine roster for that game.your argument weak. 4 TITLES IN A ROW MO BETTAH THAN 2 IN 3 YRS playing in weakest league in state in Hilo.

  28. Mil December 6, 2019 6:33 pm

    yea your intelligence or law degree weak fb fan. Your memory of Hilo struggling in playoffs seems to be bad. Memory loss? You remember Hilo getting shut down by Waipahu in 2018? You forget Hilo losing to Div 2 Kona in 2017 season thus makin the Div 2 runner ups better than Div 1+Hilo in 2017? Yea didn’t think so. Remember the BIIF futility in playoffs before 2017? Nah didn’t think so. Learn to read article. History lesson you need bro.

  29. FBFan December 6, 2019 7:08 pm

    BIIF futility in playoffs? Up until the new system Hilo has been playing Open level competition in playoffs. It’s simple gentlemen. Convince admin to step up, or shut up! Overall D1 state bracket is better then D2 bracket year in and year out. You want the easy way to the Koa stay 2. Want to be tested, move up.

  30. Mil December 6, 2019 7:21 pm

    Fb fan. Div 2 bracket has been as good as Div 1 since 2017. 2016 when Mililani won Div 1 was better but last 3 Yrs Lunas win Div 1 without a doubt. I’d be in favor of a bowl game between div 1 and 2 winners. Lunas beat Iolani in 2017 btw. Why did Hilo lose to Kona in 2017?

  31. FBFan December 6, 2019 7:33 pm

    You’d be in favor of a Div 1 vs Div 2 winner. You should be in favor of convincing the powers that be at Labuan to move up so you don’t have to work so hard to argue hypotheticals.

    Why Hilo lost to Kona in 2017 has many factors to losing a game. If you have every coached anything yiu would know that. What I do know about that 2017 team is that a QB change was made immediately after that loss (good coaching to be able to make tough adjustments when needed) and the rest is history. That Apao kid took over at QB following that game and Hilo became a different team with his ability to run and pass. But that’s water under the bridge. Happy Holidays gentlemen!

  32. MIL December 6, 2019 8:19 pm

    I’d be in favor of consolidation of Div 1 and 2+into one division. Keep Open Div separate. Happy Holidays as well!

  33. Give me a break December 7, 2019 11:50 am

    Watson C nobody’s trashng the kids, Lahainaluna is a great team with excellent coaches. We’re just calling BS on the excuse the coach is using for not being D1. Just come out and say you don’t want to play D1, no make excuses. As a fan base don’t believe everything the coach says like MIL admins won’t let them or enrollment BS, that’s “fake news” Bobby. MIL only has 5 teams, 2 D1 and 3 D2. You telling me the MIL can’t have 3 D1 and 2 D2, where’s the problem, I don’t see one. And if it went to a vote Lahainaluna would cast the tie breaker cuz the two other D2 teams, Kam and King K would obviously vote for them to move up so they could have a chance to go to states themselves. Seems like the coaches care more about what’s best for Baldwin and Maui High. What about Kam and King K, nothing huh, just crickets. Guys it’s not hard or complicated, just use your common sense. Fake news is fake news, some see it, some don’t.

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