Last (seeded) and Furious: Baldwin fans irate

Chayce Akaka and Baldwin have locked down the MIL. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser
Chayce Akaka and Baldwin have locked down the MIL. Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser

Silent but furious.

According to longtime Maui News sportswriter Robert Collias, that’s the state of most Baldwin football fans — and island media — this week since learning that their team is the lowest seed — fourth — when the HHSAA Division I State Championships kick off Nov. 4. The Bears won the Maui Interscholastic League D-I title, but found themselves parked behind top seed Hilo, Campbell and ‘Iolani when the seedings were released on Monday.

Irked? Some fans were. Others were curious. Some are downright foaming at the mouth. Well, maybe not. But it’s definitely worth a closer look.


No. 1 seed Hilo
Pros:
> Won its league with an unbeaten record
> Left a lasting imprint by playing Kahuku very tough a few years back
> Has some stellar athletes once again defensively
Cons:
> Routed at home by Saint Louis in preseason
> BIIF has a history of difficulty in the D-I tourney, having never won a game
> BIIF also never won in the now-gone Neighbor Island Bowl
> Hilo barely got past Kealakehe, a middling D-I team, and D-II league champ Konawaena

No. 2 seed Campbell
Pros:
> Upset then-No. 4-ranked Waianae late in the season
> One of the top defenses in the state
> A one-time state champion (in D-II)
Cons:
> Lost early in the OIA playoffs

No. 3 seed ‘Iolani
Pros:
> Dominated D-II competition for years in the state tourney
> Defeated a notable California team in preseason that featured one of the West Coast’s top QBs
> Competed well with Kamehameha, a Top 10 team
Cons:
> Winless in ILH D-I play

No. 4 seed Baldwin
Pros:
> Unbeaten in the MIL
Cons:
> Routed at home by Kamehameha (and Edison, Calif.) in preseason
> Barely got past D-II Kamehameha-Maui and D-II Lahainaluna (twice)
> Nearly upset Kahuku roughly a decade ago at states, but in more recent seasons has struggled against the ILH and OIA’s top teams

League champions get to host* in this eight-team field. This is where the process gets interesting. Since the HHSAA by-laws require that same-league teams avoid opening-round matchups as best possible by the seeding committee, the process is as much about pairings as anything else.

(*The top D-I entrant from each league, I’m told, can host a game. Everyone else is supposed to play at a neutral site, say at a neighboring field.)

Example: Hilo is seeded first, but the probable eighth-best team, Waiakea, is also from the BIIF. That matchup is scratched. Leilehua and Moanalua lost in the OIA consolation semifinals, so Hilo wound up drawing Leilehua. (Leilehua and Moanalua — the latter forfeited its consolation game — did not meet during the regular season or playoffs.)

Waiakea was paired off with Campbell, the No. 2 seed. So there’s logic so far in this equation.

Moanalua paired off with No. 3 ‘Iolani and Mililani, which beat Leilehua in the OIA consolation semifinals, drew Baldwin.


There are all kinds of viewpoints on this first-ever “in-between” state-tourney bracket. It is, in essence, Division 1.5. Not quite Open Division and not D-II. And even with a nice, seemingly easy number — 8 — to work with, it will never be agreeable to all fans. Not with the BIIF’s history in D-I. Not with Baldwin’s lack of sustained success in recent years.

The HHSAA’s Chris Chun inferred in our post the other day that Hilo got the most votes as a No. 1 seed partly because it is a league champion. The other side of that is this: Baldwin is in a league that has only two D-I football programs, and technically, the HHSAA doesn’t recognize a league champion unless there is a minimum of three teams.

This is a case of splitting hairs, because if Baldwin had the best and deepest football team in the islands, the seeding would be different.

But this isn’t why Baldwin is the fourth seed (and upsetting fans on the Valley Isle). It’s about pairings, and often enough, the seeding committees probably look beyond the first round. Many a time, a tough opening-round opponent was simply a hugely difficult gate of entry, and the foes of the next round were actually less difficult.

That’s not necessarily the case here, but there’s this: If Baldwin fans feel so disturbed by the notion of being seeded lowest while the BIIF has the highest seed, all the Bears need to do is beat Mililani, and then travel to the Big Island and possibly face Hilo.

If anything, the biggest complaint is not so much about seeding, but about the Bears having to face an explosive Mililani offense. But MIL fans forget that Mililani is a young team, not as deep as last year — two key linebackers are their top running backs now — and that Coach Rod York often has to burn at least one time out in the first quarter of games to settle his Trojans down. He had to discipline 11 players last week just before game time. (They sat the first half.)

So, Baldwin fans may not complain so much about having to play Mililani, but three of the four pairings are not easy for seeded or unseeded teams. The exception is Campbell, which gets to host a Waiakea team that struggled for most of the season against D-I and D-II competition. In essence, Campbell is the true No. 1 seed despite what we see on paper, and is also the only team in the D-I tourney that is playing on its home field in the opening round. Waiakea (3-8) certainly has a chance; since losing its first four games (all to D-II teams), the Warriors won three of their next five games. They lost to Hilo 40-3 last week in the BIIF title game.

Waiakea has one of the largest enrollments in the BIIF, but in reality, would be a better fit in D-II when it comes to football. Six of its eight losses were to D-II programs. But the format, in pilot-program mode, is a work in progress, and the Warriors are ready to travel across the state to play on Campbell’s still-mint condition turf.


Even with disagreeable fans here and there, this is certain: Baldwin and MIL fans are talking about the D-I tourney, and the more they talk, the more furious they are, the more they’re going to care about what happens in War Memorial Stadium on Nov. 4. Opening-round games on Oahu, whether they’re state or OIA playoff games, are notoriously unattended. And quiet. On Maui, a crowd in excess of 2,000 is expected for Baldwin-Mililani. More likely, there will be 3,000, possibly 4,000.

Furious? Show up. That will say plenty.

COMMENTS

  1. Jenny Tails October 27, 2016 3:18 pm

    Should make em travel to Oahu instead then if they like complain


  2. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate October 27, 2016 3:41 pm

    the seedings were rigged


  3. MauiWowie October 27, 2016 4:30 pm

    Baldwin has every right to be upset. At the very least they should be the 3 seed and playing Moanalua. Iolani should be 4 and playing Mililani. I LOL at your line to Maui fans about showing up. Should be the opposite and NO show!

    Showing up only give HHSAA more money and more reason to keep making crooked decisions. Boycott!


  4. ??? October 27, 2016 4:31 pm

    You hosting, just let your play do the talking.


  5. rrforlifebaby October 27, 2016 4:43 pm

    I don’t think any governing body will please 100% of the people when it come’s to seeding.
    Baldwin is hosting, so there shouldn’t be too much to complain about. At the end of the day, you still need to show up and play whomever is placed in front of you.


  6. alohachef October 27, 2016 4:48 pm

    Still believe that Baldwin should have been seeded #2. Why? Obviously MIL champion and undefeated. Should have been a no brainer. Campbell #3 and Iolani #4. Baldwin would have drawn Moanalua and Iolani would have drawn Mililani. Somehow the ILH, who really lobbied for more representation in the Open and D1, got a favorable draw. Moanalua, which had to forfeit last week, could match up with Iolani. However, they don’t have the depth, injuries, and had some that had the flu. If I was from Maui I would be upset as well. It’s just more motivation for them to prove the seeding committee wrong and go all out against Mililani. Traditionally, Oahu teams have had difficulty in first round games played on Maui. It’ll be interesting.


  7. Manley October 27, 2016 7:55 pm

    When the outer islands deferred from the “Open”, this what happens. It gave the ILH2 the opening. Lol. Just man up and play the Open next year.


  8. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate October 27, 2016 7:59 pm

    Baldwin getting screwed having to play mililani who should be in the open division


  9. RDag October 27, 2016 11:30 pm

    Don’t complain and just win to show who you really are. Watch Mililani, who was one interception from making the open division, show everyone what a young unseeded team can do . . . go Trojans!


  10. ceny October 28, 2016 4:22 am

    I find it ironic that Baldwin is complaining. In last years State Baseball seedings they were given the easiest path to the finals. I was told it was because the State tournament was on Maui and the promoters wanted to make sure that Baldwin was in the finals so they could get good attendance at the games, especially the Championship game. If Baldwin was knocked out early then the only people attending would be the families of the other teams.


  11. TooMeke October 28, 2016 6:17 am

    My money’s on Trojans.

    I don’t see anyone in the new D1 beating them.

    Not even Crapiolani.

    OIA sweeps all 3 divisions this year.

    So much for ILH’s attempts to get a champion…maybe next year.

    HA!

    RRFL.


  12. Andrew Hopoi October 28, 2016 6:31 am

    Mililani should be heavily favored to win. The are the first looser of the Open Division so they should have no problem destroying everybody in that division. So please don’t try to make it sounds like that Mililani will have competition because they won’t. Plus Mililani finally realized that they’re situation isn’t that bad. At least they going to win out the rest of the season.


  13. BaseballFan October 28, 2016 7:56 am

    Ceny, I completely disagree with you. Whoever gave you that information is absolutely wrong. If you go on sportshigh.com they actually tell you exactly how they create the brackets. They seed the four league champions then after that there is a formula that fills in the rest of the bracket. To say that the baseball state tournament was rigged is complete trash. It’s not Baldwin’s fault that Waipahu upset some teams in the OIA tournament. It’s not Baldwin’s fault that Mililani upset MPI or Campbell upset Kailua. Again, there was no rigging going on. Go on sports high and look for yourself. Aloha


  14. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate October 28, 2016 8:52 am

    yup mililani will win the D1 title and have a trophy the says “7th best in the state”


  15. Jason Keuma October 29, 2016 10:27 am

    grabum- It will probably say D1 state champions. Which is irritating. It makes it so Kahuku will not repeat as D1 state champions, back to back……again….for a fourth time.

    I am waiting for the real D1 bracket schedule, and the public explanation on how it was achieved.


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