No football superconference for 2016

An OIA/ILH superconference was discussed by the OIA and shot down earlier this month.  In photo, Saint Louis' Ronson Young ran the ball against Kahuku in the 2015 Division I state championship game. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
An OIA/ILH superconference was discussed by the OIA and shot down earlier this month. In photo, Saint Louis’ Ronson Young ran the ball against Kahuku in the 2015 Division I state championship game. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

Every year, fans and members of the media like to discuss an Oahu Interscholastic Association and Interscholastic League of Honolulu merger for a football superconference.

Well, believe it or not, there was actually some official talks on a proposal by the OIA at its athletic directors meeting earlier this month. The proposal was shot down, but the fact that the league was talking seriously about it is news.

“We talked about it and it didn’t fly,” OIA football coordinator and Farrington athletic director Harold Tanaka said Wednesday.

It’s possible that the talks themselves are a small step in the right direction. The ILH is a small league, with only three (four, if you include ‘Iolani, which might be dropping back down after this season) Division I teams and it’s a struggle for them to make a full, competitive schedule.

The OIA, which puts its 23 football teams into two classifications (Division I and II) but competitively speaking has three tiers of strength, could also benefit from a merger by allowing its top teams to play against the iron of the ILH in the regular season, escalating competition and, mostly likely, profits at the gate.

Tanaka and other sources did not give official reasons why the proposal didn’t have legs. But the public-school OIA has, for years, been reluctant to discuss combining with the private-school ILH for football during the regular season. The main sticking point brought up most often has been the ILH’s ability to offer athletes from anywhere on the island scholarship money to attend a particular school. Many OIA athletic directors and coaches maintain that the OIA’s inability to award scholarships or to get players outside of their district creates an uneven playing field.

One veteran OIA coach who wanted to remain anonymous said he was “surprised” that the discussions were even on the table.

Tanaka did not discuss the specifics of the proposal, but several sources close to the situation said that one idea was to have the three ILH D-I teams —— Kamehameha, Punahou and Saint Louis —— play in an Open conference with seven teams from the OIA. Six of the seven OIA teams would most likely have been Kahuku, Mililani, Waianae, Farrington, Kapolei and Campbell, to be joined by one other —— possibly Kailua, Aiea or Leilehua.

One OIA coach said on Wednesday that the possibility was there for ‘Iolani and Damien to join the OIA middle-of-the pack schools in Division I and for Pac-Five and for St. Francis to join bottom-tier OIA schools in Division II.

A merger and/or three-tier classification could help schools in both leagues avoid some of the lopsided games that have been occurring in recent seasons. It would also help with safety issues, where a dominant football team is not playing against a school struggling to form a team or using less experienced players out of necessity.

“We’re (the OIA) slowly warming up to the idea,” another OIA coach said Wednesday. “It will probably happen eventually.”

One source said the idea of an OIA-only power conference, where just the perennially strong OIA teams move up into a division that’s smaller (eight to 10 teams) than the 14-team Division I (seven-team Red and Blue conferences) that’s used now, was also discussed and didn’t survive.

In a separate note, there is talk of the ILH trying to get one more team into the Division I football state tournament (the breakdown now is three OIA, one ILH, one Big Island Interscholastic Federation and one Maui Interscholastic League). That format is based on a formula that’s been used for many years by the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which grants berths proportionate to the number of teams a league has competing. In simpler terms, the bigger the league, the more state berths.

So, for the ILH to get another team in the states, the HHSAA would have to make an amendment to its formula.


  1. hi808 January 13, 2016 8:59 pm

    Nope, keep the country country. What will end up happening is that it will make it easier for Cal Lee and Kale Ane to scout talent because they are going to be playing against it every Friday night. I can imagine their monday morning meetings….”Did you see that wide receiver shred our defensive secondary, kid is only a Sophmore we should get him to come play for us because in two years we are travelling to California to play national power DeLaSalle, yeah I think his parents would bite on that”.

  2. Hauula 93 January 13, 2016 10:09 pm

    For the ILH to make there point, they need to play the OIA’S powerhouse teams in the season.. Easy to prepare for a team you jus played two week ago, but hard to prepare for a team you never played all year… I’ll give you a example and this is only an example.. First time Kahuku played Waianae, It was 30-0.. Two weeks later, it was 13-0… Waianae prepare better cuz they knew what expect.. That’s how the ILH is every year… So make it happen ILH, CUZ OIA IS READY…

  3. Mahatma Gandhi January 14, 2016 3:33 am

    Yeah, it’s true. The recruiting going on nowadays is insane. Back in the 1970s, the ILH schools would recruit maybe 1 elte multisport player a year. Now looks like they recruiting up to 10 players a year. No need to be multisport anymore. St Francis too, recruiting. St Louis ruined everything with their excessive recruiting, now other ILH schools have to do the same if they want to have a competitive football team. It’s gutted the OIA of their rosters. Not just the Honolulu schools, but Waiphau too. The ILH even recruiting Kahuku hard. Look what happened to McKinley last season.

  4. Bruddah January 14, 2016 9:04 am

    The only kids that will be recruited are the kids who’s parents want a better opportunity for them. That goes for both public and private. I moved my kids out of district for grade school because there was a better curriculum elsewhere. Still public school, but if I could swing it, I would send to private. Then again, if my kids had a better opportunity at another public high school for whatever reason, I would consider a move. If you leave it up to the kids, most times they would want to stay with their friends in their district. Outside of that, it’s the parents ultimate decision. Don’t blame the private school recruiting. If you blame anyone, blame the parents for wanting something better for their child.

  5. AOK January 14, 2016 10:00 am

    @Hauula I disagree. IMO 1 OIA school is ready. And that is the team that kicked the Crusaders trash. Any of the other ILH Big 3 would run roughshod over all other OIA teams.

  6. hi808 January 14, 2016 10:43 am

    I would encourage all athletes that have the opportunity to go to a private school to go. But to consider the private schools equal to the public schools and have them compete in the same conference is wrong. Why cant we just be happy with the current state tournament? we all got what we wanted right? The top ILH school played the top 2 OIA schools. End of story, look forward to next season. We can all blame Kahuku for doing so well and beating the ILH which opens up this disscussiion. Truth is the ILH big 3 would smash all the OIA teams except Kahuku, so no the OIA is not on par with the ILH. Making a superconference for the sole purpose of generating ticket sales is greed by our leaders at the expense of our kids physucal health and well being.

  7. Fletcher Lee January 14, 2016 10:54 am

    Who wants to play the same team over and over during a football season? Make it interesting… Go back to the old ILH, I’m sure the Kalani’s and Roosevelts will find ways to stack their rosters.

    OIA athletic directors meeting earlier this month? Yah right… Trying to bring up new ideas at one of those meetings would be like trying to bring back the superferry.

  8. hi808 January 14, 2016 10:56 am

    All the townies are jealous that Kahuku keeps winning, Kahuku is the reason the OIA keeps reclassifying the red n blue conferences because the townies complain that “Kahuku has an easy road to the playoffs, lets re-schuffle their schedule and make them play harder teams.”

    Now the ILH is crying the same song! “Kahuku didnt play anyone hard to make it to the title game but St.Louis had to play punahou and Kam twice”.

    Na,na,na,na stop whinning you townies and take your butt whoopings like a man, Kahuku is so sorry that your golden boy town athletes arent the best in the state.

  9. Chad January 14, 2016 11:53 am

    @Fletcher Exactly! Bring back the superferry!!!

  10. 88 January 14, 2016 1:46 pm

    To be the BEST you need to play the BEST! A division where all the top schools play each other is not only good for the State of Hawaii its good for the kids who play in the games. The kids get better when they play against the top teams in the State every week. The quality of football and football athletes would only get better.

  11. Fletcher Lee January 14, 2016 3:32 pm

    Prior to the 1970s, the ILH was a rugged 10 team league w/ sold out crowds @ Honolulu Stadium. Punahou wants to play Roosevelt… Iolani wants to play Kaimuki… Kamehameha wants to play Farrington…. etc. Those are the classic rivaries man! Bring some excitement and tradition back to Oahu.

    Yes Kahuku is “Da bomb”….. ILH football is so boring nowadays.

    The Superferry is history man, the outer islands wanna keep da country country.

  12. Hauula 93 January 14, 2016 6:47 pm

    @AOK.. you right…. But I expect other OIA teams to get alot better next year, since they are picking up high caliber coaches.. Next year will be interesting..

  13. Hauula 93 January 14, 2016 6:52 pm

    Oh yah…. Rumors has it.. KAHUKU will play Bishop Gorman in September in vegas… OH YAH…

  14. Jason Ching April 26, 2016 12:59 pm

    If they do make this happen and the teams will be split to 3 tiers they should make it promotion/relegation style to keep it fresh. For example, if Mililani and Kapolei places in the bottom two during their season, they’ll drop to the tier 2 teams while the top two tier 2 are promoted.

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