It’s time for the OIA East to stand up for itself.
The division has heard whispers about being the OIA’s lesser division since the preseason, when the OIA West went 7-0 against the East with each team collecting a win except Leilehua. The Star-Advertiser Top 10 poll took it from there, with six of the seven teams out West being ranked at some point this season to only two from the East.
But none of that matters now, it is playoff time.
With top seeds Farrington and Kahuku getting a bye along with the West’s Mililani and Campbell, McKinley will lead the East in the first round of the playoffs when the Tigers (East 3) take on Waipahu (West 6) on Friday. Leilehua (West 5) visits Moanalua (East 4) and Kailua (East 5) visits Kapolei (West 4) the same day. Castle, the sixth seed in the East, visits Waianae on Saturday.
The OIA playoffs has pitted four teams from the East against four teams from the West since 2011, and the West is 6-2 in those games. The East hasn’t won the battle since 2003, but it tied six times. The tournament was a 10-team affair from 2004-2010. The tournament was set up as Red Conference vs. White Conference in 2001.
East vs. West in first round of the OIA playoffs
2012: West 3-1 (Campbell def. McKinley, Kapolei def. Castle, Waianae def. Kailua, Moanalua def. Waipahu)
2011: West 3-1 (Mililani def. Castle, Aiea def. Kailua, Waianae def. Kaiser, Moanalua def. Kapolei)
2010: Tied, 1-1 (Radford def. Moanalua, Farrington def. Aiea)
2009: Tied, 1-1 (Mililani def. Kaimuki, Kailua def. Campbell)
2008: Tied, 1-1 (Mililani def. Kailua, Kaimuki def. Waipahu)
2007: West, 2-0 (Leilehua def. Castle, Kapolei def. Kailua)
2006: West, 2-0 (Aiea def. Castle, Kapolei def. Kailua)
2005: Tied, 1-1 (Aiea def. McKinley, Farrington def. Leilehua)
2004: Tied, 1-1 (Aiea def. Roosevelt, Kailua def. Nanakuli)
2003: East 3-1 (Kahuku def. Waianae, Kailua def. Nanakuli, Farrington def. Pearl City, Mililani def. McKinley)
2002: East 3-1 (Castle def. Kaimuki, Farrington def. Leilehua, McKinley def. Waipahu, Mililani def. Nanakuli)
Divisional rivalries might be the only thing on the line this weekend, as winning in the first round usually only gives a program a chance to be thumped by a better team that is coming off a bye.
No team has advanced out of the first round into the semifinals since 2007, when BOTH first-round winners made it into the semifinals and Leilehua ran through the whole bracket and won both the OIA and state titles when it put JV quarterback Andrew Manley at the helm for a second-round win over McKinley.
That was the last time Leilehua suffered the indignity of playing in the first round.
Kapolei was the other Cinderella story that year, traveling to Kahuku and beating the Red Raiders 14-7 in one of the OIA’s most memorable upsets. The Hurricanes couldn’t keep it going, though, losing to Waianae in the semifinals and Farrington in the third-pace game.
Aiea and Farrington both went to the semifinals out of the first round in 2005, showing Leilehua and Kapolei the way. Those four occurances are the only times in 22 first-round games that a team followed a win in the first round with a win in the quarterfinals.
One thing going the East’s way in these playoffs is that two of its teams are playing, in theory, lower-seeded opponents.
Based on seedings, McKinley should be able to handle Waipahu and Leilehua should not have an easy time with higher-seeded Moanalua.
The lower seeded team has won only two of 12 games in the first round of the tournament since 2008 after taking two out of four in 2006 and 2007.
Campbell 35, McKinley 0: Isaac Hurd broke out with 77 yards rushing while the Sabers’ defense held Gerime Bradley to 32 yards rushing and 24 yards receiving. Cambell was the fifth seed out of the West while McKinley was No. 4 in the East. The Sabers lost to Mililani in the next round.
Aiea 13, Kailua 12: Isaiah Fonoti threw for 156 yards, 75 of them to Jarrel Chaviera, and Na Alii defense overcame a 134-yard rushing performance by Kailua’s Jarrin Young. Aiea, the sixth seed in the West, lost to Campbell 13-7 in the second round.
Leilehua 36, Castle 13: Kaipo Kea threw for 140 yards and the West’s fifth seed made up for a bad day on offense with a stellar defense and special teams. The Mules beat Mililani in the next round on their way to the OIA and state titles.
Aiea 18, Castle 12: Alfredo Higa throws for 174 yards, 103 of them to Alan Fonoti, and Lofa Liilii rushes for 90 in Na Alii’s win. Aiea, the West’s fifth seed, loses to Waianae 46-0 in the next round.