ILH clarifies its football tiebreaker rule

Punahou's Enoch Nawahine dropped a pass after being hit by Saint Louis' Isaiah Tufaga during Thursday night's game. The ILH clarified its format for determining a champion in the case of a regular-season first-place tie on Friday. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Punahou’s Enoch Nawahine dropped a pass after being hit by Saint Louis’ Isaiah Tufaga during Thursday night’s game. The ILH clarified its format for determining a champion in the case of a regular-season first-place tie on Friday. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

No more confusion.

When Punahou defeated Saint Louis 33-20 on Thursday night at Aloha Stadium, it put both teams in a tie for first place in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu Division I regular-season football standings.

It left many people wondering what the format is for a tiebreaker if the two teams win out and finish in a first-place regular-season tie.

The ILH league office was closed Thursday night, so Hawaii Prep World contacted all seven ILH head coaches, and five responded that they were not 100 percent sure of the answer.

Enter Georges Gilbert of the ILH office, who cleared up the confusion Friday afternoon via an email and a cellphone call.

The easy answer in the case of a two-way regular-season tie in either Division I or Division II is that there are no regular-season tiebreakers.

In continuation of that easy answer, if Punahou and Saint Louis both win their final regular-season game next week and finish 5-1, then there will be no outright regular-season D-I champion and the league’s overall D-I champion will be determined in the upcoming and regularly scheduled single-elimination playoffs (semifinals on Oct. 14 and championship game on Oct. 21).

For seeding purposes only, a card draw would be held to determine which teams are slotted Nos. 1 and 2 in the league’s single-elimination playoffs.

(Special note for further clarification: if a team that places third or fourth in the regular season, Kamehameha or ‘Iolani for example, wins the single-elimination playoffs, the ILH would then make a determination on how to decide the league champion).

If one team finishes 5-1 in the regular season and the other ends up 4-2, then the postseason format will continue in its regular fashion. In that case, the single-elimination playoffs would follow, and by ILH rule, an overall ILH championship game would be added (listed on the ILH schedule as Oct. 27, if needed) if the regular-season winner is not the same team as the single-elimination playoff winner.

It is helpful to remember that the ILH refers to its regular season as the “first round” and to its single-elimination playoffs as the “second round.” So, the official way to say it is that there will be no tiebreaker for the “first round.” If a “first-round” champion is determined on the field and that winner ends up being a different team than the “second-round” champion, then an overall ILH championship game will be added.

There is one slight difference for the ILH varsity Division II format. Since there are only three teams, the single-elimination portion (“second round” in ILH parlance) starts with the No. 3 seed playing the No. 2 seed, with the winner moving on to play the No. 1 seed.

But the same rule mentioned above for D-I also applies to D-II. If Damien and St. Francis finish in a first-place regular-season tie at 3-1, there will be no tiebreaker and the overall championship would go to the winner of the single-elimination tournament. For seeding only, a card draw would be held.

When asked what would happen in the case of a three-way tie (with Damien, St. Francis and Pac-Five all at 2-2), Gilbert said the ILH would have to make a determination on the format.


  1. 88 September 30, 2016 2:12 pm

    Didn’t these two teams play a third game last year to decide who was the ILH Champion?

  2. SimpleSimon October 1, 2016 6:26 am

    This open division format is the stupidest format ever created. You have 3rd place+ teams with a chance to become Champions. It’s ridiculous. I hope people boycott this format. Might as well just give every team a participation trophy.

  3. 87 October 1, 2016 7:46 am

    if kahuku wins the title again this year the ilh will turn the title game to a best of 7 series

  4. Manley October 1, 2016 9:56 pm

    The ILH changed the rules to accommodate the HHSAA shibai. ILH never had a single elimination tourney. Here’s another shibai. Now the ILH is saying if the 3rd or 4th place wins out, the ILH will decide who the Champs will be. In otherwords, Punahou and St.Louis is guarentee in the States Open. The HHSAA will look like fools in the end. Now watch some great OIA teams drop in the the D1 bracket and destroy some

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