Baldwin coach Lee would be OK with D-I

Baldwin would be in Division I, not the Open division, if a new football proposal passes. In photo, Chayce Akaka threw a pass in a state tournament game last season.  Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Baldwin would be in Division I, not the Open division, if a new football proposal passes. In photo, Chayce Akaka threw a pass in a state tournament game last season.
Krystle Marcellus / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

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.


  1. JahMon May 2, 2016 7:19 pm

    It was planned from the very beginning by the organizers of the super conference that N.I. teams would not be a part of it because they are too weak to compete, If those ILH businessmen that are putting up 3 million dollars to BUY the OIAs decision to create this league Im sure they could also pay out a few hundred thousand to the MIL and BIIF leages to help one of their teams travel and be a part of this league. Wait a sec! I think its part of St. Loius’s plan to make it even more attractive for the N.I. kids to transfer to St. Louis.

    This super conference benefits Oahu only and even more so the ILH schools ESPECIALLY!

  2. Mahatma Gandhi May 2, 2016 8:22 pm

    yeah, JahMon, sounds real to me. I say Punahou would have the edge over St Louis in getitng top Oahu players, just because of their name known nation wide. The parents pick the schools for the kids. St Louis has had to raid the outer islands for top players. They got Trsitan Nichols and Luca Vartic from the outer islands to play just 1 year for them. They got Drew Kobayashi from Hawaii island. They recruited Nate Herbig from Kauai. They got Jordan Iosefa to trsnfer from Waipahu to play just 1 year for them. The win-at-all-costs St Luois Crusaders football program. Good Kahuku beat them bad last year.

  3. rpaahana May 3, 2016 8:53 am

    Funny, since this proposal came out, I have heard over and over how NI teams would never be able to compete with the top teams in the state. Hey OIA lovers, football in Hawaii existed prior to 2000. Get a history lesson. There was a time when ST Louis waxed the floor with EVERY OIA team they faced for a decade and a half in the Prep Bowl. So bad that many at the time questioned why even have a Prep bowl. Who are these top OIA schools? Kahuku, yes. Mililani (rose within last 6-7 yrs), who else? Also remember OIA success in the Playoff era is exaggerated because of multiple Kahuku titles and they get 3 chances at the title while every other league gets just one(only 2 others have won the title). The OIA schools were forced to get better, by suffering at the hands of St Louis. NI would do the same in the open division. Kahuku is great, Mililani is starting something, Leleihua had run. The rest of the OIA know your history and remember this with the ILH schools are smashing the other “top” OIA teams. And bet money, after 3 yrs they will propose the open division keeps the money they make. enjoy.

  4. JahMon May 3, 2016 1:15 pm

    The Rock who attended Mckinley High school said it best, St. Louis is a private school, they are a priviledged school. Money allows them to buy/recruit the best talent from the OIA.
    Slade Matautia was from Kaiser, Iosefa from Waipahu. The OIA breeds talent for St.Louis and Punahou, not the other way around, the ILH does not breed talent of their own, they dont take their K-6th graders and turn them into D1 or NFL Talent, nope! The ILH recruits gifted talent from the public schools and slap a St. Louis or Punahou jersey on them. All of a sudden Stanford and USC are going crazy about all the talent coming out of the ILH when in fact the ILH coaches are just inheriting the talent from local popwarner leagues and OIA schools.

    There is nothing wrong with private schools and how they conduct their business, in fact we are all very proud and happy for the opportunities that these institutions offer our keiki of Hawaii. BUT, when it comes to football, IM TALKING FOOTBALL ONLY, the private schools throw academics aside and recruit polynesian kids (giving them free tuition) that can help their FOOTBALL teams win. Then these schools have the nerve to rub it in the faces of OIA schools saying the OIA are crybabys.

  5. Ldub Twenty May 3, 2016 1:32 pm

    You ARE crybabies JahMon, 88, gridiron22, or whatever you wish to call yourself!

  6. rpaahana May 3, 2016 1:47 pm

    Why does everyone keep complaining about recruiting? Let everyone recruit, allow anyone to transfer. This is about athletics, period. Serious football players want to play for schools that take football seriously. If your school treats football merely as a extra-curricular activity then deal with the results of that type of commitment. I am from Maui and have no problem with Maui players going to St. Louis, Punahou, and Kahuku (yes OIA folks, Kahuku gets transfers as well). If the Maui schools don’t want to raise their level and in turn elevate the opportunities for the athletes, then kids should be able to find a school that will. I would love for kids to stay home, but at the end of the day it’s about them, not my feelings.

  7. goPunahou May 3, 2016 3:01 pm

    Kids and their parents have a right to go and play where ever they want. I do believe however that because the ILH does have a distinct advantage of attracting elite talent into their schools and programs that they should compete in their own conference. Call it the Elitists conference or something.

    If the OIA should have to suffer the consequences of losing athletes to private schools because of their lack of resources to up their programs to higher levels, then the Private schools should have to suffer the consequence of playing in their own 3 team league which consist of those 3 elitist private schools.

  8. Hahashandah May 3, 2016 7:25 pm

    Without the NI it’s an Oahu Championship. Let’s add in them for the “state tournament”. Don’t get me wrong they won’t be highly competitive I say keep them in for arguments sake.

    How about this, only champs go states, the 4 champs ILH, OIA, BIIF and MIL. That way no more coulda shoulda woulda’s from the ILH. I can’t remember a time when a runner up has won the title. It’s like they aren’t even in it anyway.

    @rpaahana FYI St. Louis pre 1999 were great! They had 19 year olds playing, it was men against boys. It’s a level playing field now.

  9. Football Fan 69 May 4, 2016 2:17 pm

    That is absurd. So for the BCS the weak leagues like the WAC, Mountain West, etc. should get the same representation as the SEC, Big 12, Pac 12, etc?

    The NI teams have been lucky to be a part of the party for the past 15-16 years. They have done nothing to get another invite other than remove much more worthy teams.

    If you guys want to complain about participation then join PAL or i9 Sports.

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