If an OIA-ILH football alliance materializes, there are many in the public questioning whether the Neighbor Islands leagues should be a part of it.
The way the alliance has been proposed, it calls for three teams from the Interscholastic League of Honolulu and seven from the Oahu Interscholastic Association in the Open division (also referred to unofficially as a superconference), leaving out some top-notch football schools such as Baldwin from the Maui Interscholastic League and Hilo from the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
There is a provision to add an MIL or a BIIF team to the Open division for the regular season if they choose to do so, but travel concerns and the nightmare of scheduling logistics pretty much rule out that from actually happening.
It’s also doubtful that, if the proposal passes, the newly formed alliance would allow a Neighbor Island school to skip the regular season and send a representative to the Open Division state tournament.
All of that means that if an OIA-ILH union happens, there would be no N.I. teams in the regular season or in the Open Division state tournament (which is set up to include the top six teams in the Open division).
So that leaves teams such as Baldwin and Hilo in the Division I state tournament after playing their own regular seasons, and it could be argued that that’s exactly where they belong. Baldwin has made it to the state semifinals against the state’s best teams, but only once. Hilo has qualified for the D-I states (the top division now) for three years in a row, but no Big Island team has ever won a state D-I game.
Teams like Baldwin and Hilo and Kapaa (from the Kauai Interscholastic Federation) would likely be highly competitive in a D-I (one division under the Open) state tournament against traditionally strong (but not absolutely the top-tier type of teams) such as ‘Iolani, Moanalua, Kaiser, Nanakuli or Leilehua, assuming that none of those schools are picked to play in the Open.
Baldwin head coach Pohai Lee told Hawaii Prep World on Saturday that the Bears, if they could, would give the Open division a try, but that the travel hurdles would be too much to overcome.
Asked if he feels Baldwin would fit in at the Division I (not Open) level, Lee said, “That would be fine.”
MIL executive director told the Maui News’ Rob Collias in the Monday edition that the league would not send a team to the Open division, at least not “right now.”
BIIF executive director Lyle Crozier could not be reached for comment.