Lunas’ Tihada gives his thoughts on D-II and D-I

Lahainaluna's Derek Perez ran for a touchdown in a 34-32 victory over Kapaa in the Division II final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships at Aloha Stadium in 2018. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Lahainaluna’s three straight Division II football state championships have gotten people talking.

Will the Lunas — who went undefeated against D-I and D-II competition this season — move up?

Co-head coach Garret Tihada was asked for his thoughts right after Lahainaluna defeated Kapaa 34-32 in the D-II final of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships on Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

His answer at the time — he still had some celebrating to do — was concise and ambiguous. Basically, he said the school has its own theory on that question.

On Wednesday via cell phone, Tihada got more specific and clarified exactly where the Lunas stand.

In a nutshell, Tihada thinks that the MIL champion should go to D-I at states and the MIL runner-up should go to D-II.

As it is now, the MIL has two D-I teams who fight during the regular season for the right to go to states. There are also three D-II teams vying for a state spot, and Lahinaluna is one of them.

“If Maui was able to send the champions to D-I and second place to D-II that would be the best situation for everybody,” Tihada said. “Then nobody has any questions. It’s cut and dry. It doesn’t matter the school size. On Oahu, in the OIA, a lot of large enrollment schools (like Lahainaluna) are in Division II.

“This has been our stance for a while, and we’ve gotten shut down (on that idea) for a few years now. We could elect to go to D-I on our own, which we did in the past. But it hurt our kids when we were consistently the second place team on Maui. We stayed home. The kids didn’t get as much exposure by not going to states. There are more eyes (by college recruiters) on you at states. We were in D-I for a bunch of seasons (the last time was in 2006).

“We decided that it was better to go down to D-II and give the kids more opportunities than they would have had in D-I and not making the tournament.”

The Lunas made two appearances in the Division I state tournament and went 1-2. They are 13-10 in 13 appearances in the Division II state tournament.

Tihada also pointed to the overall strength of Division II at the state level in 2017 (with ‘Iolani and Konawaena), which he felt was stronger than D-I.

For those who think it’s a no-brainer for Lahainaluna to go up to D-I, Tihada mentioned that in the three state finals, the Lunas won by an average of five points per game — 21-14 over Kapaa in 2016, 75-69 over Konawaena in 2017, and 34-32 over Kapaa in 2018.

“There’s been a lot of talk about people wanting us to move up and I’m not exactly sure why,” Tihada said. “There is great competition at D-II and it’s not like we’re dominating games. Most are really close games.

“We’ve brought it up (MIL champ goes to D-I and runner-up goes to D-II) at MIL meetings for a couple of years,” Tihada said. “I think it has to do with the HHSAA needing to do its scheduling and arranging sooner, and that it would be a nightmare for them to do it that late.”

“We understand. There is a reason for everything. And it was not just a straight no from them.”

Tihada said he would have no problem bringing the Lunas into the state D-I tournament if, like happened this year, they ended up in first place out of the five MIL teams.


  1. ILH November 28, 2018 1:04 pm

    I beat Wake Up. lol.

  2. Watson C November 28, 2018 1:08 pm

    Finally. People will understand this…..

  3. Wake up November 28, 2018 1:31 pm

    Understand what? That he’s trying to stack the deck? If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it’s a duck. More excuses for Lahainaluna to sandbag again next year and go D2. If you are proud of being the King of the D2 then there’s no argument to be made. Challenge yourself and move up or shut up

  4. Watson C November 28, 2018 2:00 pm

    Wake up
    How about this again? You shut up we shut up. More people like you keep making assumptions and harassing Lahaina, the more people will shut you down. Just appreciate the good that will come out of this. One day you’ll understand if you were with the Lunas. And again let the boys play and enjoy where ever they go. No need for harassing and hate like y’all did with Iolani.

  5. Alani November 28, 2018 2:06 pm

    Wake up
    Show Ohana man. Just saw you in the Lunas post with the same argument. Agreed with this coach though I wanted the Lunas to move. Watson C dude I’m sure Wake Up knew. No need explain him over and over.

  6. WallyWorld November 28, 2018 2:11 pm

    Interesting theory. That works to send the best MIL team to D1 states, but idk about the D2 representative. It’s a tough situation with only five teams. Even tougher with King Kekaulike not really getting any wins for however long it’s been now.

  7. ILH November 28, 2018 3:30 pm


    ILH Open div champ go States Open div.

    ILH Open div 2nd place go States div 1.

    ILH Open div 3rd place go states div 2.

  8. Glen Pascual November 28, 2018 4:05 pm

    As far as I know, Lahainaluna is NOT a large enrollment school. I think the writer’s insertion of the parentheses there is misleading, especially as it is contained within Coach Tihada’s statement and implies that he is saying Lahainaluna is a large enrollment school. It is not. According to, Lahainaluna’s enrollment is 964. Compare this to Waipahu, a long-time D2 school with 2,475 students. Even other Oahu D2 schools have bigger enrollments than Lahainaluna: Radford 1330, Aiea 1048, Castle 1179, Kaiser 1144, Kalani 1331, Nanakuli 1056, Pearl City 1639, Roosevelt 1368, McKinley 1603. In my opinion, this is why Lahainaluna is appropriately in Division II – small school, small roster, players playing both ways out of necessity. Nothing wrong with being D2. Nothing to be ashamed of to be state champions.

  9. Wake up November 28, 2018 4:11 pm

    Right? People would be in an uproar over that ILH. Like I said, trying to stack the deck. Just declare D1 and stick to that division. Don’t blame college recruiters. If the kid is that good they will come.

  10. M November 28, 2018 4:28 pm

    Wake up…SHUT UP!! Sandbag? da one sandbagging! Only post on Lahainaluna cause your team neva beat us! Act like you one St Louis guy..SHAME!! We played tough competition in the post season..not like we blowing other schools, but no sense explain cause you already know too bad your school not good nuff for beat Lahaina. Sucks to be you buddy hahaha

  11. M November 28, 2018 4:35 pm


  12. ??? November 28, 2018 5:26 pm

    From the coach himself:
    We could elect to go to D-I on our own, which we did in the past. We decided that it was better to go down to D-II and give the kids more opportunities than they would have had in D-I and not making the tournament.”

    This should answer everybody’s ? about moving up or down!!

    I agree that best MIL team goes to DI states..

  13. Wake up November 28, 2018 5:39 pm

    Check Kahukus enrollment, they play in the Open. No be scared it’s only moving up to D1. Cry more please M

  14. Watson C November 28, 2018 6:19 pm

    Wake up
    And?!!!!! Don’t compare them to Kahuku. They ain’t in the Open nor the D1. Glen Pascal here made a pretty good point. I just wish you listen and leave these boys alone.

  15. M November 28, 2018 6:20 pm

    Wake up, you the one crying on every Lahainaluna post. Bwahahhaa eh, all good! We know you a phony wanna be (Lulu guy as YOU call’em). YOU still never answer the question on St Louis not wanting to play a “NATIONAL” bowl game against the “POWERS” in the mainland. Actually, I know it’s not up to you! But, ahh they SKED!! THEY LIKE STACK THE DECK! hahaha “right back at cha buddy”. Brah, I know you a wanna nothing against St Louis. I’m pretty sure your a troll thats been a Crusader fan these past 3 years and was a Kahuku fan years before that. Since you never go to any of those “open” schools, and went to a “SOFT” D2 school that just could not BEAT Lahainaluna, you just gotta HATE. I no blame you man!….I understand get people like that, and you one of’em. Especially somebody behind the computer that never did play the game.

  16. Alani November 28, 2018 6:26 pm

    Nice job to spot that. Hopefully this should shut everyone up.

  17. Watson C November 28, 2018 6:44 pm

    Glen Pascual
    You know Wake up and a few others has been harassing these boys ever since champs. It’s like they won’t even stop until they do go up. ??? I admit you’re right. That should answer everything. I just hope others do follow.

  18. Wake up November 28, 2018 7:43 pm

    This has nothing to do with the players. Just the coaches and fans. As far as STL, it’s out of the boys and parents hands. I know all the parents, players, and fans want to go up to the game but the admin/coaches said NO. Can the same be said for Lahainaluna. Do the players, parents, and fans want to move up? From reading your whining the answer is NO. You happy and content to play in the D2. Do you see the difference? If not, try using your good eye you ass pirate.

  19. Wake up November 28, 2018 7:47 pm

    As far as enrollment goes, if you can field 75 kids and have a small School enrollment should you move divisions? Campbell has the highest enrollment in Hawaii and they could barely field 50 kids. The belonged where they were, in the D1. Its just recently they moved up to Challenge themselves. The key word is CHALLENGE. Something Lahainaluna knows nothing about

  20. Just an observation. November 29, 2018 7:30 am

    The Lahinaluna coach is being honest, in that he said he wants to get more exposure for his players. Playing D2 state postseason (especially in the championship) gets exposure for his kids. Playing D1 in which they would not make states, his kids don’t get that same level of exposure. This is about trying to get that one or maybe two kids a D1 college offer. I get it.

    But, from a competitive stand point should Lahainaluna be a D1 team? Sure, but that is something I think needs to be addressed by HHSAA. If they (HHSAA) want more parity in the each division they need to make the rule changes based upon historical trends. A team that consistently wins in their particular division would need to move up. Of course, this where the rule could also be found to have some cracks when considering a team like St. Louis. They can’t move up, they are the top dogs and likely to remain for years to come.

    I get the logic from the coaches standpoint, but it does have some questions on point of parity within each division. Let’s face it Nanakuli plays better to Div 2 and Kaimuki plays better to Div 1, but school sizes and historical records suggest otherwise. In the final analysis, the placement of some schools need to be more fluid from year to year. If we want parity in each division as opposed to just looking for exposure.

  21. Kim C November 29, 2018 1:28 pm

    Wake Up….
    Since you so adamant about Lahainaluna moving up to D1, why don’t you apply to be the head of the HHSAA and make it happen. Since you up to the “challenge”…
    You keep dogging these kids & their hard work ethics (something you probably not used to), instead of just giving them credit & congratulating them on a successful season. I wish all of you who use this platform to Bash the Lunas would actually take the time to see how hard these kids practice & recognize the time & effort EVERYONE on this team sacrifices!

  22. Watson C November 29, 2018 8:09 pm

    Kim C
    Well said.

  23. Wake up November 30, 2018 8:58 am

    If you’d learn reading comprehension I am not bashing the kids. And this has nothing to do with hard work. It has everything to do with admin, coaches, and fans being happy with being the Champs of the weak division. Challenge yourselves and move up. Dummy

  24. Don't Hate December 30, 2018 1:35 pm

    OMG @ Wake Up; Don’t you think that because of the Admins & Coaching the boys are respectful & play as well as they do? They respect the field, their opponents & where they come from. Your words are child like and it does appear that you hate on people very easily. Let the boys play & the coaches Coach. Whatever the decision is, should be their own. Mahalo ke Akua Pu

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