OIA football coordinator pleased with OIA-ILH alliance

There is a possibility that OIA D-II runner-up Kaimuki could move up to Division I for the 2019 season. Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell/Star-Advertiser.

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.”


  1. Makanui January 18, 2019 8:09 pm

    This ideas created a better season for all football teams! Now this idea should be expanded to other sports. One must ask our leadership, “why would we choose to limit the benefits of greater “equity of competition” to football players only? Shouldn’t ALL sports (and both genders) have the same opportunity to experience a more balanced competitive experience?

  2. Savich January 19, 2019 1:01 am

    Is this an OIA or ILH club only? As in recognition.

  3. notes January 19, 2019 2:22 pm

    this “alliance” is a sham designed to give the ILH more exposure to OIA athletes so that they can be recruited by “coach” cal lee. it’s so sad that harold tanaka was bought out by ILH and HHSAA. Break up the alliance until ILH stops rampant recruiting and releases the kids back to their community. the state tournament should just be the public school leagues. let the ILH play against themselves if they want to keep on destroying high school football with recruiting.

  4. Northshore January 19, 2019 6:49 pm

    There’s issues that must be changed in the open division. Every game win/loss must be counted towards the open division standings regardless if the game is played between the ILH and OIA. As an example, St Louis decided not to play a make up game with Mililani because the win/loss wasn’t a factor in the standings for the ILH or OIA. I would consider this to be out of the ordinary because if schools are willing to participate in the open division, all win/loss record should be counted. Following the play-offs, an open division state champion would be declared… not ILH open champ or OIA open champ. Since the MERGER created the only Hawaii high school football league open division, there should be one open state champion. Why have a merger and create an open division if the respective leagues choose and pick and make stipulation because they belong to the ILH or OIA. If there’s stipulations, then the leagues should revert back to the private and public school sports programs.

  5. Hmmm? January 19, 2019 8:17 pm

    I don’t think it was up to St. Louis or Mililani, not to make up game, there was not enough dates available. They met in State Finals. Open Div. is ok, but D1 and D2. eh…can live w/out it…

  6. Hodad January 19, 2019 8:25 pm

    3 Notes

    Give me a break. The public’s recruit every bit as hard as the ILH. At least, an ILH education gives these kids hope for the future.

  7. Truth January 19, 2019 10:29 pm

    Hodad is correct. The transfers going to Mililani, Campbell and Kapolei is well known to their communities. Kaiser did it when Miano was the coach to win the state DII title. At lease the ILH schools now admit they recruit. They denied it for years. Punahou evens admits the money from their carnival helps pay for under previaged students to attend their school.

  8. Coach C January 20, 2019 10:28 am

    When Farrington go D1, Tanaka going,huh?

  9. Coach C January 20, 2019 10:33 am

    Remember when Leileihua was relevant? Beat St.Louis for State. D1 for years. Now schools like Mililani suck out all their talent. Why is Mililani best qb”‘s are from Kapolei and their best offensive linemen are from Kalihi and Halawa housing.

  10. Coach A February 19, 2019 10:47 pm

    They should definitely do this with girls volleyball. Making an Open Division, aligning OIA-ILH schools;
    Open Division could consist of:
    Kamehameha, Punahou, Iolani
    Moanalua, Kahuku, Mililani

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