Below is the SECOND of Hawaii Prep World’s four-part quick look at the first round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Division I football playoffs Friday and Saturday.
This year, things are quite a bit different. In years past, teams playing in the first round faced elimination and also had a chance to move on.
Now, the first-round losers are still eliminated, but the first-round winners gain a spot in the state tournament. The following week, the quarterfinal winners lock up a spot in the inaugural state Open division and the quarterfinal losers head to the state Division I tourney.
Aiea at Leilehua
Kickoff: Saturday, 6:30 p.m.
>> Leilehua is the OIA Red No. 4 seed
>> Aiea is the OIA Blue No. 5 seed
>> Leilehua (3-5, 3-4)
>> Aiea (3-5, 3-4)
>> Leilehua: Nolan Tokuda (12th season)
>> Aiea: Wendell Say (26th season)
Prize for winning: A quarterfinal matchup against Kahuku (7-1, 7-0 OIA Blue) and a spot in the either the Open or D-I state tournament. Leilehua has not made it to the state tournament since 2011 and Aiea has had a longer wait. Na Alii haven’t been in the big show since 2009 when they were in the Division II tournament and 2005 when they made it into the Division I bracket.
Prize for losing: Elimination from OIA playoffs. Season over.
Coach Tokuda on playing against Na Alii:
“It’s a game against friends, that’s what it feels like. I had a couple of coaches who are now on Aiea’s staff. Their OC (Al Viloria) is my former OC and Ed Kama (offensive lined used to be with us as well. It’s neat to see Mules coaching at other places. It’s sad that it’s an elimination game. We’re preparing for Aiea and not looking at playoff scenarios. We’re not looking who we might play (next week). We need to take care of the football and make sure of things, like the (defensive end) is picking up on the quarterback zone read. We need to make sure the O-line identifies who they’ve got on the other side. Gotta know who’s hot, who’s the blitzer, if we need to check off. And obviously, we need to make sure we’re getting more coverage downfield on special teams.”
Coach Say on playing against the Mules:
It’s a must win for us, a big game. We’re still hurting from injuries and stuff but we can’t use excuses. We’re happy to be in this situation. I look at it like, hopefully, we can continue on. We’re a good team. We just gotta play through the whole game. For the most part, we have less players than anybody else. Probably suiting up 34 with our injuries. We’ve got good kids. We’re trying to get them to believe that they can hang with these guys. We’re capable, but we can’t make mistakes. The beauty of the new state tourament is if you get past that first round, you’ve got a berth in the states. It’s like a carrot waving in front of us. It gives us a little more incentive to be prepared. This is the second season and if you cannot get motivated, shoots, then you shouldn’t be playing football. We will be taking on Leilehua full force.”