Poll: Coaches split on ILH/OIA FB merger

Four coaches would be against it and three would support it.

Kind of like a close World Series — 4-3.

We’re talking about an informal poll question sent out to Oahu football coaches by me, who by so doing, kind of experimented in putting the cart before the horse.

If the OIA and ILH ever merge for football, it will be because that’s what they want to do, not because some (harebrained) Honolulu Star-Advertiser reporter and his co-workers (Paul Honda, Dave Reardon, among others) in the sports department think they should.

But being harebrained is a skill, so why not write a story about the horrible early-season matchups we’ve had. Been there, done that. It’s entitled “What competition?” and can be found here: http://www.hawaiiprepworld.com/football/what-competition/.

Well, the matchups are slowly getting better as the season moves along and the postseason looks promising.

Still, it’s a lingering thought that there should be some reshuffling of the divisions for better competition from the beginning to the end of the season.

The three coaches of the 30 polled (23 did not respond, for good or ill), as mentioned earlier, would support a merger.

The four who would not support a merger brought up the inherent unfairness of some schools being able to offer paid tuition to a private institution to student-athletes all over the state and some other schools without that luxury.

Fair enough reason. But it should be mentioned that the OIA’s public schools, by entering the state tournament each year, agree to compete against the ILH’s private institutions. So, what’s the difference? I, for one, have no idea and am seeking enlightenment on it while also under the assumption that there is no good answer.

It’s no secret that the OIA “recruits” players, too. It’s just the way it is. But the OIA can’t offer monetary incentive like the ILH can and that is a big, probably irreconcilable, difference.

Of course, there is the, ahem, illegality of recruiting that we should talk about. But since there is very little teeth to any of the rules about recruiting on the books, then it really isn’t illegal now, is it? The rules should be thrown out completely, allowing student-athletes to go where they want. They’re already doing it. Duh?!

Since we’re on the subject, this might be a good time to throw in the name of quarterback Kalawaia Judd.

He was the hero Friday night in Kaiser’s upset of No. 3 Kahuku, scoring a 1-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left.

Well, about a week before the season’s first game, Kauai coach Tommy Cox was lamenting the fact that Judd had just up and left the Red Raiders to join the Cougars.

OK, so maybe there should be a strict rule (with the teeth of a shark) banning the practice of jumping from one team to another after training camps have started. On the face of it, that type of thing is just plain wrong.

Now this isn’t meant as a knock on Judd. He didn’t break a rule. And more power to him for his great accomplishment.

But, alas, there still might be a way to get more suitable competition for all teams.

One coach brought up the possibility of the OIA dividing into three divisions instead of two, and he thinks it will come to pass some day, even though there is nothing in the works at this time.

The ILH has been discussing separating its Division I teams from its Division II teams for league games as soon as next year. Preseason games between the two divisions could still happen if that new format is instituted.

OK, so judging by the results of the informal poll, there will be no merger in the foreseeable future.

But that is not a deterrent to trying to do some kind of realignment for the good of all teams and the safety of all players.

So how’s this for a theoretical alignment (see below after reading the following disclaimer)? It’s just a thought (so excuse me if I diss your team that you feel is more deserving; it’s not so much about specific teams as it is about creating an actual working format).

Taking an advanced defensive posture, there will definitely be people reading this who ask, “Why isn’t ‘Iolani in a higher level?” And there will be others who ask, “Why did you put Roosevelt so low?”

In addition to all of that, teams could move up or down in a division as judged by a blue-ribbon panel of known members of the Hawaii football brain trust using quantitative and qualitative criteria.

The ‘Iolani debate will always be there and there is no perfectly suitable answer to the question. As for Roosevelt, in this theoretical format, they were dropped into a division with Anuenue and Waialua (two teams that, it can be argued, belong in the lowest division at this point). The Rough Riders were chosen, for the most part, just to fit the format. They could easily be put higher, but they are on a long losing streak, and, as mentioned before, could prove they belong higher in future years.

The teams who are already elite or who are striving to become such have been bumped up to Platinum, giving Gold/Division I status to most other Oahu teams. Someone playing football under this format could say 25 years later that he played in Division I (which, we all know sounds better than Division II) and, if that player is humble enough, he could also say that the Platinum level was higher.

For state tournament purposes, no teams from the Neighbor Islands at this point would fit in Platinum, and most would be placed in Gold/Division I, with some falling into Silver/Division II.

So, here is the harebrained idea:

ILH Platinum
Saint Louis

ILH Gold/Division I
St. Francis

OIA Platinum

OIA Gold/Division I East

OIA Gold/Division I West
Pearl City

OIA Silver/Division II


  1. eastside808 September 23, 2014 9:08 am

    Looks good, but would put 1) Kalani and Pearl City in Div 2 Silver or
    2) Kaimuki and Kalani in Div 2 Silver and Moanalua from west to east

  2. Egan Kawamoto September 23, 2014 10:56 am

    If I recall correctly the initial reason that the public schools left the ILH was the eligibility age advantage that private schools had. Their age for eligibility was higher than the public schools and at that time public school transfers were held back a year by the private schools.

  3. maukamakai September 23, 2014 1:28 pm

    The public schools need their own division so that they can play for their own “Public Schools ” OIA championship. The HHSAA State championship that combines the ILH and OIA is great because it allows the public schools a chance to test their might against the “Elitist” private schools. The way it is now is the way it should be. Seperated!!

  4. maukamakai September 23, 2014 2:40 pm

    Yes, the main reason being that Private school athletes seem to be held back a year so the age difference and physical advantages against the public school kids. St. Louis built their dynasty of Football championships on the backs of 18 yr old seniors.

  5. Bows September 24, 2014 9:58 am

    D1 ILH stays intact but also plays non-conference games with OIA D1 teams. Best record of D1 ILH team gets in state playoffs. OIA decides their format who and how many gets in state playoff


    D1 ILH teams get separated to three D1 divisions with OIA teams and two best records on each D1 divisions get into state playoff.

    Same format with D2

  6. Paul Honda September 24, 2014 11:58 am

    Actually, they could be older than 18 back then. Currently, if you are 18 at the start of the school year, you are eligible to play in the state tournament.

  7. Paul Honda September 24, 2014 11:59 am

    Former OIA executive director Dwight Toyama hinted at a public-schools only state tournament.

  8. Paul Honda September 24, 2014 12:04 pm

    Age requirements are equal now. Egan, do you think the OIA would consider a reunion? Or are the playing fields too unequal, so to speak?

    What would you like to see happen?

  9. tubby September 26, 2014 1:40 pm

    OIA will not join ILH. They want the ILH to beat each other up (STL has the potential to play Pun twice and Kam twice before the post season).

    Imagine if Kahuku’s schedule was : Pun, STL, Kam, Lei, Mil, Farr, and THEN the post season. That is how hard ILH seasons are (since Iolani sandbags, but is still tough).

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