‘Iolani will play D-I football again in 2016

‘Iolani football players voted to remain in Division I for the 2016 season. Pictured is quarterback Tai-John Mizutani. Jay Metzger / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani football players voted to remain in Division I for the 2016 season. Pictured is quarterback Tai-John Mizutani. Jay Metzger / Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

‘Iolani will play Division I football in 2016, head coach Wendell Look told Hawaii Prep World on Saturday.

Look said he and the team met in February and that’s when the players voted to remain in Division I for a second straight season.

The Raiders were a dominant team in Division II, winning eight state titles from 2005 to 2014 and 11 Interscholastic League of Honolulu titles in a row from 2004 to 2014.

A rule put into the ILH books a few years ago requires teams winning multiple state or league titles in D-II to move up to D-I, barring appeal, for at least one season. The Raiders did that in 2015 and went 0-6 in ILH D-I with two losses each to Saint Louis, Punahou and Kamehameha.

The Raiders had the option to move back to D-II this season.

“The players decided they want to stay in D-I,” Look said. “I’ve always said that we would make the decision together. They’re the ones who have to play and compete and put the work in. We as coaches will support them and help them succeed, whether it’s Division I or Division II. They’ve set a goal for themselves to win that first Division I game.”

Look said he plans to allow the players to decide which division they want to be in each season, if there is a choice. Enrollment-wise, ‘Iolani fits into Division I classification for the ILH, but a league rule allows one team sport per athletic year to play down a division. For years, ‘Iolani chose football to move down to D-II, where — based on win-loss record — there is a case to be made that they belong.

Since the start of the 2010 season, the Raiders are 43-25 overall, but just 4-24 against Division I teams statewide.


  1. Ldub Twenty April 16, 2016 3:52 pm

    I haven’t been a fan of much of what Look has said or done, but I commend him for listening to the wishes of his players. However, for everybody that hates to see Iolani in D2, enjoy this while it lasts. I highly doubt Iolani will play D1 beyond this year for several reasons. Many seniors-to-be and lack of size coming up.

  2. Mahatma Gandhi April 17, 2016 5:54 am

    First off, Iolani belongs in Div 1. Their losses last year to the ILH powers were close losses. They weren’t getting blown out. Secondly, you cannot have a league with only 3 teams. Too few numbers. Iolani always had competitive teams when I was a kid growing up in the 1970s. I even seen them blow out Waianae in the 1980 Prep Bowl. I remember seeing the coach Wendell Look play. Would be undersized by today’s standards. 1st team ILH All-Star at his DE position. Tough as nails. Never backed down from anyone.
    You gotta blame St Louis for the big gap separating the top ILH teams from the lower half of the league. Their excessive recruiting. It has forced the other ILH teams, and Mililani, to also recruit heavily it they want a competitive football program, which has gutted OIA teams of their stars. Waipahu was once a OIA football power. Radford too.

  3. Mauian5 April 17, 2016 6:11 am

    Iolani and Waianae played to a 7-7 tie in 1980 prep bowl. No blowout by Iolani.

  4. Mahatma Gandhi April 17, 2016 6:51 am

    Mauian, the record will show that Iolani and Waianae did play to a 7-7 tie in the 1980 Prep Bowl. But anyone who attended the game, as I did, would have seen a blowout. Iolani pushed Waianae all over the field, both sides on the line of scrimmage. The score could easily have been 28-0. Iolani had 2 deep drives into Waianae territory late in the 4th quarter, no points. The kicker shanked a chip shot, point blank field goal attempt with less than a minute to play in the game, after Iolani had driven the entire length of the field yet again to get into field goal range. You can see the highlights on YouTube. I think Waianae only had 2 big plays all game, back to back late in the first half, which got them inside Iolani’s 10 yard line, but it took them like 8 tries to finally score on a 4th down pass. Just a millisecond later, the Waianae QB would have been buried by 4 Iolani defenders., Check it out in YouTube. The Waianae QB barely gets the pass off in time.

  5. locomoco April 17, 2016 8:22 am

    Article notes that enrollment-wise, Iolani fits division 1. But look at rosters – they have about a third of the 200+ pounders and 6-foot athletes that Kamehameha, Punahou, and St. Louis each have. Iolani doesn’t have the football players to field a JV team, the others do. Things might have been different in the 1970’s, when Iolani was all-boys, but times have changed.

  6. 88 April 17, 2016 9:03 am

    How about giving credit to Waianae for STOPING iolani where it counted, IN THE RED ZONE! Times have changed if back than a 7 to 7 tie was considered a smash

  7. C-Pop April 17, 2016 10:21 am

    Locomoco times have changed! Credit to Iolani winning all those D2 state titles, the challenge of D1 daunting as it is, motivates players & coaches to prepare to eventually succeed in D1. Time will tell, Iolani also has a history of recruiting blue chip youngsters island wide.

  8. Mahatma Gandhi April 17, 2016 11:33 am

    locomoco, what happened when Iolani went co-ed in 1980? Did they halve the number of boys and bring in an equal number of wahine? Or did they double their enrollment? I say Iolani has recruited football players over the years. Sealii Epenesa, Donny Mateaki, Joe Igber, Uriah Moenoa…..They claim they don’t recruit football players, but is mum on whether or not they recruit basketball players. They do. I suspect a lot of top island football players want to play for the Div1 championship. Who really cares about Div 2? I think playing in Div 1 will allow Iolani to compete for top players in the islands. My best guess is before Iolani didn’t want to get into a bidding war with St Louis for players. You can always get by with recruiting 1 deficient academically player. But with St Louis setting the bar the way they have, no way can you recruit just 1 stud player a year and expect to win the state football championship. I think Iolani’s 1980- Prep Bowl team had 3 Samoan recruits. That equates to 1 recruit per year. Frank Lutu, and the Tufono brothers on the D Line. Each played major roles in blowing out the Waianae Seariders.

  9. Ldub Twenty April 17, 2016 4:34 pm

    Mahatma Gandhi=PinkSushi if you’ve been posting long enough. It’s useless to argue with him about the 1980 Prep Bowl game because he’ll always claim it was a blowout, #1, and #2, knows almost nothing about football. Fact is, he thinks his opinion is the only one that matters.

  10. turfwar April 17, 2016 4:35 pm

    No matter what the size of the player, when asked if they want to play D-1 what are they supposed to say? “No way coach… We sked.” If it’s about safety the decision cannot be made by a bunch of bravado teens. Last year McKinley sustained several injuries to a football team with already low numbers. They chose to forfeit a bunch of games.

  11. Ldub Twenty April 17, 2016 4:58 pm

    I don’t think injuries will be a problem for Iolani, especially if there is a bye week at the end of the 1st round. I applaud HPW for posting a picture of Mizutani because you know what the ironic thing of last year was? Iolani was the healthiest team at QB and saw Mizutani start every game against the Big 3. That should give them some encouragement.

  12. Mahatma Gandhi April 17, 2016 6:11 pm

    turfwar, McKinley is another OIA school whose football roster has been picked clean by the ILH. Farrington too. And Waipahu.

  13. USMC April 18, 2016 8:50 am

    Mahatma Gandhi, you obviously have a strong opinion on ‘Iolani being in D-I, just as everyone posting here has their own opinion. Regardless of what everyone believes should/should not happen, ‘Iolani will again play D-I in 2016. However, I do question your rational from your previous statements. You made the point that ‘Iolani’s losses were close and they were not getting blown out. Getting beat by 37 points (59-22 vs. Punahou) and 42 points (63-21 vs. Kamehameha), is pretty much a blowout. I know they are not in the ILH, but you could also throw in the 44 point thrashing (52-8 vs. Farrington) by another D-I school. One could say ‘Iolani did get “close” in the other four games with the Big Three, but the results were ultimately the same ending and they were beaten by an average of more than two touchdowns per game (33-18). No surprise that ‘Iolani has a 4-24 record vs. all D-I schools over the last six seasons (2010-2015) and that they are 0-18 vs. ILH D-I schools (2011-2015), as the seniors at Punahou were in Kindergarten the last time ‘Iolani beat them. You also stated you cannot have a league with only three teams. One Division in the ILH will always have three teams regardless of where ‘Iolani sits, as you will either have Punahou, St. Louis, & Kamehameha (D-I) or Damien, PAC-5, & St. Francis (D-II). ‘Iolani is the “odd-man out”, rarely winning vs. D-I, but rarely losing vs. D-II. The 1980 Prep Bowl was 35 years ago, meaning every player on those teams is at least 50 years old now. The focus should be the past few years, at a maximum the last decade. Lastly, I know football recruiting is a sensitive subject and there are schools that aren’t that transparent about it, but can you name one player on ‘Iolani’s roster that was recruited? In conclusion, it is not my intent to “stoke the fire”, rather you have your opinion and it is MY opinion that once the scrimmages and preseason is over and the D-I ILH season begins, ‘Iolani will find them in the same position they have been in vs. every other ILH D-I team the last six seasons, trying to win ONE game. Coach Look stated, “They’ve set a goal for themselves to win that first Division I game.” Think about it, their goal is to play D-I in the ILH and try to win ONE game. Since their last win vs. an ILH D-I school was 2010 (a 13-6 win vs. Kamehameha) that is a stark goal that speaks volumes. To put it in perspective, the Iolani seniors had just finished elementary school (the rest of the team was still in elementary school) the last time ‘Iolani won an ILH D-I game.

  14. phILHarmonic April 19, 2016 11:02 am

    I really hope the best for Iolani this coming season. I commend the kids for making the decision to remain in the D1 knowing full well what a challenge it will be. I admire them for their decision to remain in D1 knowing that they could have gone to D2 and run the table. Well done Red Raiders.

  15. USMC April 19, 2016 3:02 pm


    I agree with you, as it will definitely be an uphill battle every game. To mitigate any potential nick-picking (in regard to your Red Raiders statement), we all know the Kahuku Red Raiders are a force every year, the defending State Champions, and have a fierce and loyal following. I believe I know exactly what you meant and there are TWO sites that will prove to be insightful to many. In 1938, the first known reference to Raiders and Red Raiders was made in the Honolulu Advertiser and Ka Mo’olelo O ‘Iolani and for most of the last half century, ‘Iolani teams have been known as the Red Raiders. In the early 1990s, the school officially dropped the “Red” and has since used the nickname Raiders. http://staging.iolani.org/about/history/nicknames
    A follow-up to that was mentioned during the 100th anniversary celebration in tribute to Kahuku High School when it was stated that the Kahuku athletes became known as the Red Raiders because they wore red uniforms donated by ‘Iolani in 1950. http://www.kahukuhigh.org/apps/pages/index.jsp?uREC_ID=249435&type=d&pREC_ID=574109
    Just a little history to show that no matter where our loyalties lie when it comes to our teams when they compete, there is still a nod to “Laulima” and “‘Ihi”.

  16. Education First April 19, 2016 11:08 pm

    Wow I didn’t know 7-7 could be considered a blowout. So if Iolani was losing by 37 and 42 would that be considered a murder? Or an ass whooping? What is a worse description? Anyone please?

  17. phILHarmonic April 21, 2016 3:27 pm


    No hidden meaning behind the “RED” raider comment, dang i didnt know they dropped it.
    It was still the Red Raiders when I was in HS.
    I would be interested to hear former players thoughts on the issue of remaining in D1 or going down to D2.
    I am aging myself here, but the players during my time were studs like:
    Paulie and Brian Ahyat
    Cavan Scanlan
    Kamu Lee
    Matt Tufono
    Meki Pei ( sorry if misspelled)
    Pat Samsonas,
    Eddie Kealoha
    just to name a few.

    what did they do back then to get these polys to attend Iolani, maybe they can re-institute it.

  18. Mahatma Gandhi April 21, 2016 5:09 pm

    Iolani was “RED Raiders” when I wuz a kid too. I remember them coming out of the old Honolulu Stadium in Moiliili with all RED uniforms.

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