Oahu Interscholastic Association football coordinator Harold Tanaka thinks the league should be split into three tiers.
Just not this year.
“It will be on the table for next year (2018),” Tanaka said. “There are good reasons why we are not planning to do it this year. We are in the second year of a two-year (scheduling) cycle. And there are so many teams that requested byes so they can play against mainland teams. It would be too difficult for scheduling purposes to change the format at this point.”
Tanaka said three tiers is the way to go in the future, but that there are logistics to figure out and questions to be answered. One such worry is that by changing from the two tiers (14 teams in Division I and eight teams in D-II) now in play, the three tiers may result in teams having less regular-season games.
“We don’t really want to cut down on the regular-season games, but understand there’s been mismatches and we don’t want that either,” Tanaka said. “We want what is in the best interests of everybody, but we also know that you can’t make everybody happy.”
The Hawaii High School Athletic Association created three divisions (Open, D-I and D-II) instead of two for the state tournament last year under a pilot program. The organization worked under the assumption that there are three distinct levels of play in the state and not the two that have been in effect since 2003.
Tanaka is part of the HHSAA football committee that will decide the fate of that pilot program.
“Everyone is working for what’s best in the OIA and what’s best statewide,” Tanaka said. “We’re trying hard to get it right.”
The OIA won one of the three state tournaments last year (Mililani in Division I). Saint Louis of the ILH won the Open Division and Lahainaluna of the Maui Interscholastic League won D-II.
Tanaka doesn’t think the state is ready for a proposal that came up last year (the combining of the two Oahu leagues, the OIA and the Interscholastic League of Honolulu for regular-season play).