With a key defensive player for Saint Louis, linebacker Jordan Loveni Iosefa, out of action tonight due to a two-game suspension, there are questions galore.
Saint Louis, which meets Mililani in the 7:30 p.m. semifinal game in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships at Aloha Stadium, had hoped for Iosefa to be eligible. He had already sat out one game, the ILH championship tilt against Punahou.
But according to those who attended the ILH coaches meeting last week, the determination of how long a suspension will be is measured by the head referee. That caught Crusaders coach Cal Lee and other coaches by surprise.
All parties agree that Iosefa, during a second-round regular-season game between Saint Louis and Punahou, was ejected after throwing a punch at a Buffanblu player. An ejection normally carries an automatic one-game suspension.
“It was a surprise to all of us that it’s actually a judgment call,” Damien coach Eddie Klaneski said on Thursday night. “The referee can say if it’s one game or two games. They do some kind of evaluation of the situation. When I heard he got suspended for two games, I was surprised by it.”
Klaneski added that he was not at the game and hasn’t seen any footage of the incident. The league’s coaches plan to look further into this little-known aspect.
“There’s a motion by coaches to discuss this. We didn’t resolve anything from it (at the coaches meeting),” he said.
There was some question during the meeting about whether Iosefa was being disciplined for any possible earlier incidents.
“If a kid makes a mistake, he shouldn’t be punished for another incident. I don’t really know if that’s the case here,” Klaneski added. “I’m sure Cal appealed that ruling, but all we know is he’s out for two games. We all thought it was kind of unfair and kind of weird.”
Longtime Pac-Five coach Kip Botelho has not seen any footage of the incident either, but remarked about the rarity of a suspension of this length.
“If kids are fighting or they get kicked out of a game, they’ll get a one-game suspension, and the (officials) will review it,” Botelho said. “I know Cal was upset. At the meeting, he made it known. ‘Why is the kid getting two games’? ”
Georges Gilbert of the ILH did not return a call to the Star-Advertiser.
Mililani coach Rod York did respond, though. In a text, he expressed disagreement with the length of the suspension.
“I don’t agree with the two-game suspension. The game is a physically and mentally demanding sport. As much as parents, coaches and others tell our kids to control their emotions and actions, we don’t get to practice for those situations,” York wrote.
“Jordan, like all others, made a mistake. He was suspended one game. Believe me, that’s sufficient in my opinion to get the message across. A two-game suspension is ridiculous because in today’s world, these kids are training year-round for these type of games. Because our young kids put their heart into football, emotions fly high and you can’t simulate game speed and the emotions that go with it.
“It’s sad and I feel for the kid. Maybe a second infraction during a game should be a two-game suspension.”