Pearl City had just beaten Radford 32-26 in an exciting OIA Division II football game when the dean of OIA coaches, Aiea’s Wendell Say, strolled up for an impromptu chat near the end zone bleachers.
It was Radford’s homecoming game, but it was played at the Aiea High School field, which is also serving as the Rams’ home field for the season due to contaminants found underground at their own campus field.
“A lot of people showed up and it was a great game,” Say said. “It kind of makes me think we should have stayed in Division II.”
It was hard to tell if Say was joking or not, but it underscores how Na Alii (2-3, 2-3 OIA Blue) are struggling at the state’s highest level. One of their wins came when Kaiser (which won 52-7 on the field) forfeited due to an ineligible player. The other victory came against winless Kailua, and the losses were by scores of 52-0, 56-14 and 42-30.
Say’s Na Alii team won the inaugural Division II state championship in 2003. Aiea also played in the OIA White (Division II) in 2008 and ’09. Every other year, Na Alii have been in Division I.
Even against the stiffer competition, Say is leader among OIA coaches with 118 career wins, and he will probably remain so for a while. On Oahu, only ‘Iolani’s Wendell Look (166 wins) and Cal Lee (241) have been on the right side of the postgame handshake more often.
Career wins by active OIA coaches
1. Wendell Say, Aiea, 118
2. Darren Hernandez, Kapolei and Campbell, 94
3. Randall Okimoto, Farrington, 90
4. Nelson Maeda, Castle and Kailua, 89
4. Danny Matsumoto, Waianae, 89
6. Nolan Tokuda, Leilehua, 77
7. Fred Salanoa, Radford, 67
8. Amosa Amosa, Campbell, 44
9. Rod York, Mililani, 39
10. Greg Taguchi, Kalani, 31