Boil it down and the puzzle of OIA Division I football playoff possibilities is still a Rubik’s Cube of wonder.
For one-loss teams Moanalua, Waipahu and Aiea, earning one of the two playoff spots — the only playoff game is a championship matchup — is a matter of seizing the day.
“Win and we’re in,” Na Menehune coach Vince Nihipali said of the title game. “We control our own destiny, and these kids have that golden opportunity to close this out and get in that championship game.”
“Everything is in our hands,” longtime Aiea coach Wendell Say said. “I told the kids, every game is a championship game.”
Unlike past years, when the top two OIA D-I teams qualified for the state tournament, only one will advance in 2021.
In case of a three-way tie for first or second place, the OIA tiebreaker formula is 1) head-to-head results, 2) coin flip.
Heads or tails?
>> Moanalua (4-1, 3-1 OIA D-I)
A win over Roosevelt on Friday means Moanalua claims one of the two spots in the title game.
A loss opens a Pandora’s box of possibilities for the other four teams still in the chase.
>> Waipahu (2-1)
Wins over Aiea (on Saturday) and Roosevelt (next week) would clear a path to the title game.
A loss against either team would put the Marauders’ playoff chances at high risk. Losing to both teams would end any opportunity.
>> Aiea (2-1)
Wins over Waipahu and Kailua would seal a title-game berth.
A loss to either would leave Aiea’s chance to fate, i.e. a possible coin flip. It’s the same scenario for Waipahu: win out, get in.
>> Castle (2-3, 2-2)
The Knights became the spoiler last week by upsetting Moanalua.
A win over Kailua sets up the possibility of a tie for second place. Again, aside from head-to-head results, a three-way tie for second would likely be broken by coin flip.
>> Roosevelt (1-3, 1-2)
Facing the gap left by eight missing starters last week against ‘Iolani in a nonconference exhibition, the Rough Riders appear to be the longest of long shots. However, wins over Moanalua and Waipahu — each is a one-loss team — could smooth Roosevelt’s path to a title-game spot.
A loss to either, however, ends the quest.
“Right now, it’s still like the beginning of a season for us. We only had three games, so it’s still a normal year, this would be the first third of the season,” Say added. “With COVID, we’ve got to be able to adjust on the run and do the best we can. We’re asking these kids to cut out mistakes, and they haven’t played in a couple of years. We didn’t have the luxury of these kids playing club football or anything like that.”
(See more prep football previews in Thursday’s Honolulu Star-Advertiser.)