Saint Louis will not have the services of standout linebacker Jordan Loveni Iosefa on Friday against Mililani in the semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships.
The Crusaders entered the week expecting to have Iosefa back after he was suspended late in the ILH regular season. He was ejected in a second-round matchup with Punahou, then sat out the championship game against the same Punahou team. Saint Louis won that game to take the ILH title and qualify for the state tourney.
But Saint Louis found out that the ILH had mandated a two-game suspension of Iosefa, not just one game. HHSAA executive director Chris Chun confirmed the information on Thursday afternoon.
“We enforce the ILH rule, too,” Chun said. “To be eligible for the state tournament, you have to follow all the eligibility rules and be eligible for league play, too. We’re just abiding by the ILH rule.”
Saint Louis, the ILH champion, will play OIA runner-up and defending state champ Mililani at 7:30 p.m. at Aloha Stadium. Loveni, a rangy 6-foot-2, 225-pound linebacker, teams with fellow ‘backer Isaac Slade-Matautia to give the Crusaders one of the toughest and most athletic front sevens in the state. But that won’t happen. Iosefa, a commit to USC, will be on the sideline.
Saint Louis coach Cal Lee was not happy with the league. Saint Louis had hoped that Iosefa would be eligible to play after sitting out one game.
“According to (Georges) Gilbert, he is suspended for two games. This is a rule none of the ILH coaches knew about,” Lee texted on Thursday afternoon.
Most ejections carry a one-game penalty.
“Big loss for them. Guy has a full ride to USC — linebacker ‘U’ — I think thats says how good he is,” Mililani coach Rod York said. “I don’t agree with the two-game suspension. The game is a physically and mentally demanding game. As much as parents, coaches and others tell our kids to control their emotions and actions, we dont get to practice for those situations.
“Jordan like all others made a mistake. He was suspended one game. Believe me, that’s sufficient in my opinion to get the message across. A two-game suspension is ridiculous because in today’s world these kids are training year round for these type of games. Because our young kids put their heart into football, emotions fly high and you cant similate game speed and the emotions that go with it.”