A total of 13 underclassmen from ILH schools picked to participate in next month’s Junior Prep Sports Paradise Classic at Aloha Stadium will not be allowed to play due to eligibility rules.
The league sent out an email to athletics directors this week reminding them of the Outside Participation Policy for the sport of football which does not allow outside participation to football players for the entire school year.
Junior Prep Sports is putting on its second Paradise Classic, a four-team tournament involving teams of high school players from Hawaii, American Samoa and Northern California, on Jan. 12 and 14.
JPS officials were unaware of the enforcement of the policy until finding out Tuesday. Last year, Saint Louis quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who was a junior, played in the first JPS Paradise Classic. Tagovailoa threw for 153 yards and two touchdowns to lead Hawaii West to a 47-22 win over American Samoa in the championship game.
Tagovailoa went on to lead Saint Louis to a state championship this season. Teammate Dylan Toilolo, a junior linebacker this past season, was also on the Hawaii West roster.
“It’s unfortunate. They knew the invites had gone out way back in November and it would have been great to let us know ahead of time,” said Robert Faleafine, founder and president of Junior Prep Sports. “It’s unfortunate because it really does take away from the young athletes and their ability to gain exposure.”
Phone calls and emails to the ILH office were not returned. Faleafine said they were meeting with parents of the kids today who were upset about the ruling.
The 13 underclassmen from the ILH who were selected to play this season but can’t participate are Toilolo, linebacker Noa Purcell (Saint Louis), defensive lineman Faatui Tuitele (Saint Louis), receiver Tosh Kekahuna-Kalawe (Saint Louis), offensive lineman Arasi Mose (Saint Louis), defensive back Wembley Mailei (St. Francis), defensive lineman Michael Malepeai (Saint Louis), defensive back Kama Moore (Saint Louis), defensive back Kalamaku Kuewa (Kamehameha), defensive back Isaiah Tufaga (Saint Louis), offensive lineman Eliki Tanuvasa (Saint Louis), defensive back Kaulana Makaula (Punahou) and offensive lineman Paulo Soa (Punahou).
Underclassmen from the OIA and MIL (16 total) are allowed to participate.
“It seems like we’re limiting these kids from having an opportunity to play the game they love,” Faleafine said. “We’re hoping that the higher-ups from the ILH reconsider this thing and hold a meeting so they don’t take this opportunity away from these athletes. I don’t want to fight them on it, but we invited these athletes through the ADs and the coaches at the schools. I don’t know why they are only doing this now.”