A start date for prep football in July is on the Hawaii High School Athletic Association’s sports calendar.
HHSAA Executive Director Christopher Chun confirmed that a tentative start date would be in the third or fourth week of July. He noted that the HHSAA is working with Lt. Gov. Josh Green and the Department of Health to get approval for all sports to resume before the fall season start date.
That is music to the ears of coaches across the islands. Traditionally, football has the earliest start date. The 2020 football season was postponed and ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The first week is in helmets, then followed by full pads and scrimmages the following week,” Damien football coach and athletic director Eddie Klaneski said. “The regular season should start a week or two after that.”
The state’s largest league, the Oahu Interscholastic Association, is in wait-and-see mode.
“We are currently meeting and waiting for word from the HHSAA. I’m sure they are waiting to take their orders from the state,” McKinley Athletic Director Bob Morikuni said. “We will all know more in the coming weeks.”
The Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association (HIADA) will convene in early June regarding changes within prep sports. Proposals are voted on and offered to the HHSAA board for approval or rejection.
It has been nearly two years since Hawaii had an official football season. The widely-popular crossover schedule between the OIA and Interscholastic League of Honolulu may be a point of concern.
“The plan is to have the OIA and ILH playing together, but we haven’t met about anything yet,” Klaneski added. “Getting vaccinations will also be key for our kids. It may help us be able to go back to more normal workouts, too. The masks change will definitely help training outdoors.”
The announcement by Gov. David Ige on Tuesday could spark momentum for programs that hope for a return to normal summer preparation.
“We’re trying to put together a pass league for the summer,” Aiea coach Wendell Say said. “If schools don’t open fields for use, then we’ve got to find district parks and that would be a problem.”
City and County of Honolulu fields have been busy with a variety of youth sports. High school spring sports got permits at some facilities to play baseball. Administrators at the prep level are digesting the governor’s announcement.
“I don’t think athletic directors had a chance to discuss it yet,” Say said.
Kaimuki coach David Tautofi hopes the ball begins to roll.
“It should make a difference. At this point, athletes still need to wear masks,” he said.
Punahou interim coach Leonard Lau is also awaiting word.
“We haven’t heard anything yet fro our school, league or state regarding the governor’s decision. We’ll see. As for Punahou, we are still following our school’s safety guidelines and protocols,” Lau said.
Damien football is back to a modified form of workouts.
“We started strength and conditioning last week, and will continue through the summer ’til we get into the season,” Klaneski said. “Only three days a week and limited time in the weight room and field work.”
Lahainaluna, the defending Division II state champion, is set to resume off-field training soon.
“We still haven’t received any confirmation regarding am official MIL start date or schedules,” Lahainaluna football coach Dean Rickard said. “We have been green lighted and will begin summer conditioning and strength training on June 15 in anticipation for the upcoming season. The good news is the lifting of the outdoor mask mandate. With the low numbers and vaccine availability, this year looks very promising. Everybody’s ready for the return of football.”
On the Big Island, progress is materializing.
“I heard that we are tentatively scheduled to start on July 17. Nothing official. I believe they are working on a schedule,” Konawaena football coach Brad Uemoto said. “As of right now, we don’t have access to any school facilities, so I haven’t arranged offseason workouts until I get the clearance to use the field and weight room.”
Moanalua has allowed restricted access to its weight room. McKinley and other schools have not opened their weight rooms yet.
“It’s up to every school and how they want to handle it,” Morikuni said. “We want to get our procedures in place and make sure we follow the DOE guidelines, but we plan to open it as soon as we get our coaches up to date and our pods in place.”