OIA-ILH interleague football to continue with Leilehua, Roosevelt moving up divisions

Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu guided the Mules to an 11-2 record over the past two seasons in OIA Division I games and will get the opportunity to lead his team in the Open Division in 2020. Photo by Jamm Aquino/Star-Advertiser.

OIA and ILH interleague football will continue with a full slate of games to be scheduled for the 2020 season, according to OIA football coordinator Harold Tanaka.

And two schools — Leilehua and Roosevelt — are moving up a division.

“It’s a go,” Tanaka said Thursday morning.

The renewal of the highly popular, fan-friendly two-year pilot program was not a given, and multiple sources over the past few months told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that it was possible OIA principals would reject it.

According to Tanaka, who will be working to set the schedule in the coming weeks, the OIA-ILH regular-season format will be revisited next year.

Leielhua, which played in Division I for the last two years, will test its mettle against the big boys in the Open Division. Roosevelt, the OIA D-II runner-up in 2019 and that division’s champion in 2018, will compete in D-I.

“We made the (Leilehua and Roosevelt) decision based on varsity and JV won-lost records for the last two years,” Tanaka said. “We’re in the process of finalizing the system of how we make those changes in the future, but it will be done every year. We don’t want teams to feel like they’re stuck in a division.”

For many years, the OIA waited two years before moving teams up or down.

The OIA-ILH alliance was forged starting in the ’18 season, and has been successful in many areas. It has helped the seven-team ILH fill out a more robust schedule, given the OIA more balanced competition and thereby helping to ensure fewer lopsided results as well as a safer playing field with similar-caliber teams facing each other, and brought in more money at the gate due to an uptick in frequency of marquee matchups.

In other words, Tanaka’s statement from one year ago, after one year of the interleague schedule, still applies, “We had great games, back and forth games. It brought competitive games back to the table.”

Another part of the deal that has worked well is the autonomy the leagues continue to have. Both still crown a champion and have their own system for qualifying for the state tournament.

Tanaka did not disclose the financial aspects of the continuance of the two leagues’ regular-season scheduling agreement, which was a major incentive for the public school league to join forces with the private-school ILH in the original deal. In each of the two pilot years, all football-playing public high school athletic departments in the state were slated to share $1 million. In addition, OIA schools received all profits after expenses for any home games against ILH teams and about 75 percent from OIA vs. ILH games at ILH stadiums or neutral fields such as Aloha Stadium.

About Leilehua’s upgrade in statius, Leilehua coach Mark Kurisu texted, “We did our part and earned the chance to move up.”

OIA-ILH football regular-season alignment
>> Campbell (OIA)
>> Farrington (OIA)
>> Kahuku (OIA)
>> Kamehameha (ILH)
>> Kapolei (OIA)
>> Leilehua (OIA)
>> Mililani (OIA)
>> Punahou (ILH)
>> Saint Louis (ILH)
>> Waianae (OIA)

Division I
>> Aiea (OIA)
>> Castle (OIA)
>> Damien (ILH)
>> ‘Iolani (ILH)
>> Kailua (OIA)
>> Moanalua (OIA)
>> Radford (OIA)
>> Roosevelt (OIA)
>> Waipahu (OIA)

Division II
>> Kaimuki (OIA)
>> Kaiser (OIA)
>> Kalaheo (OIA)
>> Kalani (OIA)
>> McKinley (OIA)
>> Nanakuli (OIA)
>> Pac-Five (ILH)
>> Pearl City (OIA)
>> Waialua (OIA)


  1. HailFromDaNorth March 5, 2020 1:11 pm

    Good to see leilehua throw their hat into the mix. Still remember when manly and bryant moniz was playing, mule pride was a all time high. Now the part they gotta do mark kurisu keep those Wahiawā kids home! Mililani was fishing out the talent out there the past few years. Time to stay home boys and represent for your hometown. I hope my red raiders can get it together and bring the pride back to the north shore. The numbers in the stands are dwindling, seems like no one got faith anymore. For 13 years we’ve cheered the boys on, met Saint Louis year after year and the prep bowl and lost. We just gotta have faith, faith and we’ll be able to dethrone that might Saint Louis team. Gotta give props where it’s due and Cal Lee them run a very good program. The hell with all the recruiting this and recruiting that, the program is running on all cylinders! But like all things, it must come to an end. Here’s to another season! Can wait too see these kids and programs go at it again. #RR4L

  2. NFZ March 5, 2020 1:30 pm

    That should’ve been like that in the first place with Leilehua! Can they change the format of the playoffs as well. Have 6 teams total. Give OIA and ILH Champions the 1st round bye.

  3. CrusaderDad March 5, 2020 2:29 pm

    @NFZ – great idea! Looking forward to some football!

  4. ILoveHawaii March 5, 2020 2:39 pm

    Yay!! Another punching bag for the ILH!!

    They really should have pushed Waianae or Farrington down to D1.

    AND……..does this mean OIA gets 4 teams into Open tournament??

    I KEED, I KEED……

  5. Falcon Future March 5, 2020 3:08 pm

    @NFZ, that’s not going to happen. The goons running the OIA already said they don’t want two ILH teams in the state final like it ends up being for mostly every other sport.

  6. Jacob Makaiwi March 5, 2020 3:44 pm

    Alright! Looking forward to the Mighty Mules in the Open. Hopefully the coaches and the Wahiawa boys can figure out a way to compete with the top division like before. Like Coach said, they earned this opportunity, but now it’s time to earn respect. “Respect is earned, not given.” Auriiiite! Stoked for this season. Go Mules!!

  7. Realfootball March 5, 2020 3:52 pm

    They should let the OIA go to any school they want to play for just like the WannBE ILH, Real competition we would have, St. Louis parents are those that could not cut it on their own that’s why they’ll PAY whatever to live through there kid! U KNOW THIS IS SOOOO TRUE!!!

  8. ILoveHawaii March 5, 2020 4:03 pm

    Word on the streetz……

    All the Millz kids are returning to their home team.
    Aiea, Kalihi, Waipahu, and Wahiawa.

    Parents tired of uncle fester already.

  9. Falcon Future March 5, 2020 4:22 pm

    By the way, Pac-Five getting shafted in D2 again. Those boys should be looking to transfer too or else … No States For You!!!

  10. HailFromDaNorth March 5, 2020 6:10 pm

    Idk? I heard agbayani was told to take a hike, and they got a kid from Kahuku. But I also heard that peeps was not so happy with york too. We see.

  11. 96730289 March 5, 2020 8:32 pm

    Why do they even categorize as OIA and ILH? Just take the four best in each division and go that route.

    Pac5 not getting a chance is ridiculous.
    If it’s because the ILH recruits, then kick them back out on their own for league play and let them beat up on each other before entering the state tournament.

    Great for regular season, but the Open playoffs had no buzz.

  12. Matt Motter March 5, 2020 9:07 pm

    I think Waianae is staying in the Open because people are continuously waiting for them to come back to their 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s form. Don’t think that’s gonna happen. They remind me so much of Nebraska football.

  13. To Da Hale March 6, 2020 12:55 am

    “Uncle Fester”

  14. Wainakea March 6, 2020 5:34 am

    Just have Pac5 move up to D1 already. 3 tier system isn’t gonna work with St. Francis gone

  15. HI HS FAN March 6, 2020 7:15 am

    The Open Division is going to be dominated by St. Louis, again. Who can match up with the talent, coaching, facilities, and support that they have. (Please DO NOT continue talking about recruiting.) Punahou will be give them a run for it in the ILH. Kamehameha will improve a lot.

    In the OIA, Mililani is reloading. Kahuku has always been strong, but coaching is their achilles heal. Campbell will rebound and be in the mix. Leilehua, Waianae, and Farrington will find it hard to go head-to-head with the other teams every week. Out of this three, Waianae will make the biggest improvement.

  16. HailFromDaNorth March 6, 2020 7:28 am

    I would love to see Saint Louis go independent and join the mighty trinity league in Cali! I think they’ll be able to compete against the best! Have like IMG has, a travel team and a state team.

  17. ILoveHawaii March 6, 2020 9:06 am

    Pac 5 not getting shafted.

    They should just move on up.
    Iolani did it. Damien too.

    They had a great season last year and have good coaching.
    I am sure they can compete in Div 1 in the next few years.

  18. ILoveHawaii March 6, 2020 10:56 am

    Biggest question.

    And this will determine if Millz is successful or not.

    Who will be brought in to be the next QB??
    Talented skill players on O but no one to get the ball to them.

    Whats the word peeps??

  19. Wahiawa March 6, 2020 12:15 pm

    Hear York was working on it but not going well, plenty more options for kids and plenty neg with him. Kids and parents choosing other coaches to play for.

  20. Falcon Future March 6, 2020 1:17 pm

    @ILoveHawaii, Pac-5 cannot move up. One of the agreements ILH made to get this done with OIA was that there would be at least one ILH team in every division. The problem is you need at least two teams from a league to earn a place in states.

    Pac-5 got screwed when St. Francis shut down. ILH said they was going help out Pac-5 but I guess not.

    If other ILH teams not willing to budge, Mid-Pacific can and should look into having their own football program. I think they have to wait for the baseball nazi to retire first. That’s a whole different discussion.

  21. Rebel March 6, 2020 1:34 pm

    Baseball Nazi a little harsh but I like it…

  22. HailFromDaNorth March 6, 2020 1:57 pm

    Heard the JV QB was pretty good, but the kid that they got from kahuku used to play Bishop Gorman, but he came back home to KAHUKU and I guess he couldn’t get playing time on the JV, so he went to mililani. The dad does tattoo’s. But I heard the kid is pretty good. He was playing on Mililani’s pylon team.

  23. ILoveHawaii March 6, 2020 2:31 pm

    I think Samurai more culturally appropriate, but I get your drift.

    Its unfortunate for them. I think that all ILH football schools should be in either Open or Div 1.
    No Div 2 for any of em.

    Oh man, ricky boys son?? Back in town? Wow.
    All that just to return back to Hawaii. Oh well, good luck young man.
    I hope the fam can handle when the coach gets real with their son.

  24. HandoRando March 6, 2020 4:13 pm

    Agbayani left on his own cos he wantd fo play qb and the coach said negz. Honestly why would any 1 put Agbayani as qb1 again? After last season its not rocket science he not da guy for qb1

    Only a few ret to other schools cos they not getting playing time. Some was all stars at big boy league or JPS or pop warner or d1 d2 n shock they don’t start in open (not only mills but some bounced around at Kapz some at Campbell some at Waianae practices (Cos they have transfers too u kno lmao) before deciding to go to a d1 or D2 school Where they can start

  25. Wahiawa96786 March 6, 2020 11:25 pm

    First of all Congrats to the mules in moving up a division. Second is that they should let not one but two ILH teams play in the state tourney. So many years the ILH been getting shafted. I’m a public school kid but would love to see it happen.

  26. Peekachu March 9, 2020 2:49 pm

    @#7 Real Football
    know your facts, because the kids playing for the crusaders now, are either family originated or its there sons thats now playing. Ex prep bowl champions athletes. not living through the kids, but living through the family genes. Damn the haters keep going and going.

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