Changes are coming to the football state tournament this fall.
One likely change, according to multiple sources close to the decision-making process, will be a field of six teams in all three divisions.
Last season, under the pilot three-tier program, the top-tier Open Division and the third-tier Division II had a field of six teams, but the middle D-I had eight teams.
That change is expected to part of a proposal to be voted on at the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association annual meeting on the Big Island in June.
If it passes, the Oahu Interscholastic Association would get three teams in D-I instead of four, and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation would get one team instead of two.
Another likely change, according to sources, is the way the OIA declares its teams for the various divisions.
Last season, OIA quarterfinalists were put into the Open Division and Division I, with the winners going up and the losers going down.
This season, it is expected that all OIA teams will declare for a certain division before the season starts.
Several Interscholastic League of Honolulu coaches, including Damien’s Eddie Klaneski and St. Francis’ Kip Akana, are curious to see which division the OIA puts its teams in.
Earlier this week, sources said it’s possible the ILH may choose to classify Damien and St. Francis for Division I instead of D-II where they were last season. But Klaneski and Akana both said they would be reluctant to compete in D-I if certain top OIA programs (that have proven over the years to play at a higher level than Damien and St. Francis) were also in there. They also acknowledged that the final decision is not theirs and will instead be made by athletic directors and league officials.
So far, the OIA has been quiet about its intentions for state tournament declarations. More information on that may be available at the HHSAA’s next football committee meeting, scheduled for sometime in mid-April. The committee is tasked for making proposals to HIADA.
Like the ILH, the final OIA decision is likely to be made by ADs and league officials.
Darren Johnson, the new coach at Campbell, was asked for his preference and without hesitation, said, “I came to Campbell to compete with the best. And that’s where Campbell should be. The kids feel they should be there and I think we have kids that compete at the best level.”
Johnson is also aware that the decision is not his to make.
Campbell was an OIA quarterfinal loser last season and wound up in the D-I states, where the Sabers beat Waiakea 48-0 in the first round and lost to ‘Iolani 35-12 in the semifinals.
One of the more intriguing aspects of this offseason is the question of where the OIA will draw the line. The two-tier league will have to decide how it fits into the three-tier states.
One source close to the process speculated that six OIA teams would opt for the Open (four of which would end up qualifying for the Open). Those teams are Kahuku, Waianae, Farrington, Mililani, Campbell and Kapolei.
But, once again, that is purely speculation and the OIA could choose to classify more or less than six teams for the Open.
That source also speculated that the OIA may play a two-tier regular season and a three-tier playoffs.
The rest of the state is not expected to change its state tourney declarations much. No outer-island teams are expected to choose the Open.
In addition, all three Kauai Interscholastic Federation teams are expected to remain in D-II, and the Big Island Interscholastic Federation and Maui Interscholastic League are not likely to drastically change their D-I and D-II breakdowns.