OIA football coordinator Harold Tanaka gave the proverbial “thumbs up” in his assessment of last fall’s first year of the OIA-ILH alliance.
“It brought interest and an increase in attendance was a big factor,” Tanaka said by phone Friday. “I thought the competitiveness that was brought out was intriguing for everyone.”
The 2018 season was the first time the OIA and ILH combined for a fully integrated regular-season schedule. It served to mend some frayed relations between the leagues that had developed 50 years earlier.
Asked if there were any problems that needed to be addressed moving forward in the two-year pilot program, Tanaka said, “I don’t think there were any (major) problems. Nothing out of the ordinary.”
In speaking with OIA athletic directors, coaches and administrators, the feedback Tanaka has gotten is that some are really in favor, and for some “it didn’t matter.”
Tanaka said a final decision on the OIA’s alignment for 2019 will be made in February. According to a source, Kaimuki is moving up to Division I and Nanakuli is going down to D-II.
Tanaka said that Kaimuki and Nanakuli switching divisions has been discussed and will be discussed more, but that it is not final.
Tanaka added that the OIA’s D-I and D-II alignment will be evaluated every year. The Open Division is a bit different, with the schools themselves having more of a say.
“We wouldn’t stop them if they wanted to go up,” he said. “We would say, ‘Go right on up.’ We took a straw vote and nobody wanted to go up. The Open is a pretty brutal schedule. The Division I teams know that and are comfortable where they’re at.”
No OIA teams want to go down from the Open, either.
“For instance, our program is satisfied,” said Tanaka, who is the athletics director at Farrington. “We only had one win, but we’re working hard to get better.”
Tanaka also said the OIA and ILH will be deciding on the overall OIA-ILH alignment now that D-II Saint Francis of the ILH is out of the picture.
The alliance as a whole will also be reevaluated when the two-year pilot program is finished after the 2019 season.
“That’s when we’ll sit down with ILH officials, and the principals would also be there,” he said.
But the picture Tanaka paints of the first year is pretty rosy: “We had great games, back and forth games. It brought competitive games back to the table.”