State focus shifts to football committee

The HHSAA football committee may be able to avoid what appears to be a complete disaster. In photo, Punahou linebacker Seyddrick Lakalaka tackled Kapolei receiver Jaymin Sarono as Marist Liufau looked on in the first round of the Open Division state tournament last year. Jamm Aquino / Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

It’s all in the hands of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association football committee now.

That committee worked all year to gather information and make recommendations to the high school football voting bodies, and then those recommendations passed by a wide margin. Yet, the committee and four of the state’s leagues got hit Friday with a severely hard pill to swallow by the state’s other league, the Oahu Interscholastic Association.

Moments after the votes came in to the HHSAA executive board to go forward with the three-tiered state football tournament, OIA executive director Ray Fujino dropped a proverbial bomb and told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and other reporters that his league, the state’s largest with 22 football-playing schools, would only participate in Division I and D-II and not in the Open Division.

And while the rest of the state football community, including Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Chris Chun, is panicking about the huge problems that this is likely to cause, there may be a way out of what has become a very messy situation.

Chun said that the OIA’s decision is not official yet, meaning it has not informed the HHSAA of its intentions. All leagues have until Sept. 1 to declare which of the three divisions its teams will compete in at the state level.

So, in the meantime, the HHSAA’s football committee will be convening and working toward a way to save the three tiers by addressing any concerns the OIA has that makes it want to avoid (or destroy) the Open.

The OIA has not been clear about its reasons why it does not want the Open Division. OIA president Wade Araki addressed the league’s concerns about the issue in a Septemper 2016 letter to Chun, but they were just that — concerns and not formal, well thought out reasons to want to overhaul what the state’s voting members have implemented.

When asked Thursday for reasons why the OIA’s athletic directors were the only ones to vote against the three tiers (the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association’ final count at the Hilton Waikoloa Village was 63-27 on Thursday before ratification by the HHSAA executive board at the same hotel Friday), Fujino did not answer and instead said the answer could be found in by looking back in stories written about the letter by the Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii Prep World. At that time, the OIA was considering not participating in the state tournament because of those concerns. Subscribers can read that Star-Advertiser’s September 2016 story here. For Hawaii Prep World’s September 2016 story, click here.

Chun’s response to those concerns is in both stories.

When told of the OIA’s decision Friday, one prominent OIA coach from a strong team who did not want to be identified said wishfully before fully digesting the ramifications, “Really? Are the ILH teams going to go down to D-I, too?”

Which brings us to what this is all about and all that particular coach really cares about — competition on the field. He wants the best competition out there. That’s what most everybody wants.

That’s why the football committee’s next few meetings will be huge. All of the state’s leagues have representatives on the committee and, as Chun said and is hoping, maybe they can work something out to avoid what could possibly be a complete disaster.

The way it stands now, with Kamehameha, Punahou and Saint Louis of the ILH in the Open Division and Kahuku, Waianae, Mililani and Farrington of the OIA in Division I, that is exactly what it is — a complete disaster.

That is not what 63 athletic directors had in mind when they won the majority vote on the issue.


  1. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate June 9, 2017 9:23 pm

    i wuld pay to see kam stl n puns play each otter 12 times in open div by themselfs.heheeehee

  2. Hyn June 10, 2017 4:01 am

    Yeah because that would all be good games and not blow outs like the oia.

  3. BG Grad June 10, 2017 8:20 am

    This is cowardly. The three tier system had flaws but to completely pull out of the open seemingly just because kahuku lost to a better st louis team is silly. People like puppygate think this is good just because they are spiteful towards the ILH for some reason and would rather take the ball and play with themselves, but ILH/OIA league and tournament play is good for the kids and for the coaches.

    They actually want to play. the only people who don’t want this are the adults/fans who whine about everything.

    OIA as an organization seems to be wanting to duck the ILH and is using bullying tactics (as the largest football conference in the state) to get what they want. If the OIA organization wants to duck ILH competition in order to win watered down titles, so be it, but don’t pretend it’s a state tournament. Just crown the OIA champ “state title holders” and leave it at that.

  4. No one wants to see that. Everyone wants to see the top teams from each league compete at the highest level in each division. Of course there needs to be tweeks to the system because the DI tournament, besides Mililani and Hilo and campbell, pretty much all the other teams had losing records. Now that was a shame. And those teams probably belong in the open division but didn’t qualify for it or didn’t declare to play there. DII tournament was filled with great games, not counting the first round but overall a very good tournament. I feel that there needs to be a better way to seed teams and qualify teams for each tournament. If we can make the tournament better, we should turn to a BCS type ranking and have 4 teams state-wide play in a tournament and the rest of the teams that qualify with a certain numbers of wins, set up an end of season bowl games. Get sponsors, tv coverage, usually match-ups and great football. I would suggest making like 5 to 6 bowl games. It would be off the chain. Teams could travel and play at different stadiums and have a 2 or 3 day stay and have fun. It would be the first of its kind. Imagine that. Just a thought. Kids would love it.

  5. 88 June 10, 2017 9:27 am

    I hope Kahuku surprises everyone and opts for the Open Division. The kids want to play the Champs. And right now the Champs are the Crusaders. C’mon Admin, grow some balls and buck the system!

  6. Coach C June 10, 2017 11:04 am

    The ILH should do the same and ice out the OIA. They should play the outer island for competition.

  7. Coach C June 10, 2017 11:31 am

    Right now the OIA could a very competitive league with Kahuku,Mililani,Kapolei,Waianae,Farrington /Campbell/Leilehua/Kailua.
    The Open games probably was the biggest gate money last year, but the $$$ was spent on the D1 aND D2 teams with 6 teams travelling with airfare hotel,etc.etc. So what was the final $$ after those cost?

  8. Coach C June 10, 2017 5:41 pm

    Forgot. Iolani guarantee a spot even if they go 0-6. No wonder OIA piss.

  9. grabum.bythe.puppy.gate June 11, 2017 9:16 am

    coachc why wuld outerisland wan to play stlou an puns when the ilh are recruit outer island, all outerisland coach mad das why dey vote 3 tier so ilh go in open div an outerisland no play them. da only outerusland coach dat like ilh is baldwin coach who is cal lee brother. oia no like play ilh an even stfrancs iolani damien no like play stliu puns cuz recruit to much

  10. The Watcher June 11, 2017 6:44 pm

    Recruiting will always happen. It happens in both the ILH & OIA under different circumstances. Small schools in the ILH such as Damien, St. Francis, Pac-5, and Iolani in the past have often played St. Louis and Punahou. I never saw them trying to boycott for any reason.

    Having a state tournament and inviting teams based on how many participants a league is ridiculous. Is the tournament to to figure out who the best teams are? Or is the tournament to invite the teams from the leagues with the most teams regardless of how good the school or league is?

    There are always unfair and unlevel playing fields. Look at NCAA Football? The Alabamas, Ohio States, Michigans, etc., will always or usually have an advantage over the others. But the school man up and compete.

    Let’s look at the NCAA Basketball model. So based on what some people wants, the leagues with the most representatives should get the most invites? So back in the early 2000’s when UH was mart of the Wac (or Mountain West) and they had 16 teams, they should have had more teams invited than the ACC, SEC, etc. That is just plain silly.

  11. ilh June 11, 2017 6:56 pm

    Go back to the Prep Bowl days, forget about the outside island teams, they might have a chance in the 1st round games, but will never win a State Championship, they won’t beat the top teams here

  12. anywaaaays!! June 11, 2017 10:15 pm

    If you want to use NCAA sports as an example at least use it correctly. The ILH is like the SEC conference teams (Alabama, LSU etc) They can and do get the best and brightest stars on their team. The OIA is like a Junior College, whoever shows up in Fall practice.

    @Watcher – First of all its very idiotic to compare college basketball to high school football and if you do at least get your facts straight.
    2001 College basketball conference teams total:
    SEC = 12
    PaC10 = 10
    WAC = 10
    MWC = 8

    What were you saying again about the 15 OIA D1 teams and the 3 ILH D1 teams?
    …oh yeah…
    – two ILH teams should enter the tourney, thats 67% of their confernece being represented.
    – two OIA teams should enter, thats 7% of the OIA represented.

  13. Hyn June 12, 2017 2:25 pm

    They should find out how California runs there state tournament. Seems like they have no problems.

  14. BG Grad June 13, 2017 12:23 pm

    Just to clarify, the it her screen names I use on this site is phILHarmonic and Education First. No deception intended as it’s obvious that all my posts have the same voice. Also, a Bishop Gorman grad wouldn’t care or know about Oahu FB league squabbles. Thanks.

  15. BG Grad June 13, 2017 12:24 pm

    Meant to say “the other screen names I use” on previous post. Thanks.

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