Pac-Five is a team without a football state tournament to try and qualify for.
The squad is in the same predicament for 2020 that it was in last year, when ILH Division II had only one team for the first time. Under Hawaii High School Athletic Association rules, a league with only one team can’t qualify for a football state berth.
The same rule does not apply to baseball. This spring, the Damien baseball team is the only ILH D-II representative and is guaranteed a state berth.
Pac-Five football coach Kip Botelho believes the ILH will be sending a proposal concerning this issue to the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association to be discussed at that group’s legislative meeting in June. According to the coach, the proposal will suggest a change in the rules to allow Pac-Five to be eligible to qualify even though the Wolfpack are the only ILH D-II team.
“We gotta wait until it’s voted on,” Botelho said in a phone call on Friday. “In our league, there’s a lot of support for it by the ADs and principals. I don’t really know what the big deal is. We’re not asking for a free berth. Only if our record is worthy of it. I don’t know what’s so difficult in asking for that.”
Pac-Five finished 6-3 a year ago, which was a better record than some of the teams that made the OIA playoffs. But the Wolfpack are not part of the OIA — even though they play all of their regular-season games against that league — and thereby could not enter that league’s playoffs anyway.
The ILH has three teams in the Open Division (Saint Louis, Punahou and Kamehameha) and two in Division I (‘Iolani and Damien) and sends one representative each to states in those divisions. There was some scuttlebutt going around about a league realignment — with Kamehameha dropping to ILH D-I and Damien dropping to D-II. But that, apparently, was just talk.
Nelson Maeda, the former Castle coach who was recently hired to be Kalaheo’s head man next season, knows about Pac-Five’s frustration.
“We have a couple of guys at Castle (where Maeda still teaches) who coach at Pac-Five, so I understand where they’re coming from,” Maeda said by phone on Friday. “But it is what it is. It’s out of the coaches’ hands. It’s the athletic directors who make the decisions.”
Botelho considered trying to move Pac-Five up to D-I in order to have a chance at states, but decided against it.
“It’s really not an option for us,” he said. “We don’t have the linemen to compete. We had to use some skill guys on the line last season. You can get away with that in Division II, but not in Division I.”