For safety’s sake, Wendell Look wanted to see exhibition football games between private schools played at Aloha Stadium.
Following a cancelled football year in Hawaii, it would have been nostalgic. Memorable. Epic, maybe. Instead, the ‘Iolani co-Athletic Director saw his intricately assembled plan come to a halt. Of all the plans laid out by the ILH’s football coordinator since last summer, this one wasn’t dependent on entities outside the private-school league. It wasn’t even at the mercy of the league, which cancelled its involvement with football for the entirety of the 2020-21 academic calendar.
“That was the beauty of it. I had a schedule made for all of us to play at Aloha Stadium. We had Spectrum (prepared) to televise the games. A (COVID-19) testing program set up for the schools that didn’t have testing: Saint Louis and Damien,” Look said on Wednesday. “Then Punahou and Kamehameha decided to go on their own. They wanted to have their own games.”
They wanted, Look said, to host games or scrimmages.
“Aloha Stadium is a secured facility. You wouldn’t have fans, wouldn’t impact school staff and school personnel to monitor the campus. I tried to make it as simple as possible,” said Look, who is also ‘Iolani’s longtime coach. “We got the approval of the lieutenant governor and governor.”
Once Kamehameha and Punahou declined to participate, Look informed Aloha Stadium that the plan was shelved.
“I gave up the dates already. I’ve been kind of mum. From day one, I gave (the ILH) my return-to-play plan. Then my ILH plan, and then this plan,” he said. “It could have been Hawaii teams playing the last games at Aloha Stadium. We could’ve done that.”
The Aloha Stadium games would have included Punahou and Kamehameha on May 1.
“It comes down to the administration,” Look said.
At Punahou, it was a “consensus” of administrators and coaches coming to a decision, Coach Leonard Lau said.
“We felt it was safer for everyone involved to play at the school sites because safety guidelines and protocols are already set in place at each school,” Lau said. “Also, each school could do their own livestreams for their families to watch. Just trying to be safe.”
The dominoes fell after that. Damien opted out.
“Damien was only going to play football if the ILH approved the season,” Damien Athletic Director and football coach Eddie Klaneski said. “Pretty much because we would have had a lot of kids opt out due to (spring) sports we approved. Others would’ve opted out because they already had scholarships.”
That meant that ‘Iolani had only one non-Open Division opponent, the Saint Louis ‘B’ team, and Look opted to close it down rather than practice for just one game.
“It didn’t make sense for us to play one team,” Look said.
The current schedule of exhibition matchups are at Kamehameha and Punahou’s fields. Punahou’s matchups will be in a controlled scrimmage format.
Saint Louis will play at Kamehameha on Apr. 17 with no spectators allowed.