HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Aiea left out of playoffs
Kahuku moves up 1; East coin flip today
STORY SUMMARY »
There was a time, around 20 years ago, when football teams in the Oahu Interscholastic Association played eight regular-season games.
Occasionally, there were ties at season's end, but nothing like this year. In the Red East, three teams wound up 3-3. In the Red West, four teams were 3-3, and not enough room for all in the playoffs.
The odd team out is Aiea, which is an unfortunate victim of a numbers game that comes with a short six-game conference schedule. With growing parity in the Red West, the four-way tie-up could be the norm rather than the exception for years to come.
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After two months of battle in the trenches, Kahuku has earned some time off.
Meet in the Middle
Oahu's Red divisions are knotted up in the races for third place:
|OIA Red East
|OIA Red West
Kahuku, which moved up one notch to No. 2 in today's Star-Bulletin/KITV-4 Football Top 10, closed out league play at 6-0 and will have a first-round bye when the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference playoffs kick off this weekend.
The Red Raiders remain behind Saint Louis in the Top 10. The Crusaders outlasted Punahou last Friday and are just one of three teams statewide that are still unbeaten through nonconference and conference play. Saint Louis gathered all 15 first-place votes, but unlike Kahuku, the Crusaders and the rest of the private-school Interscholastic League of Honolulu have three more weeks of regular-season play ahead.
Farrington, which topped Castle and secured the OIA Red East's other first-round bye, moved back into the Top 10. The Governors returned at No. 9.
Iolani also landed back in the poll after rallying past Damien. The Raiders, who are poised to capture their fourth ILH Division II title in a row, now occupy the 10 spot.
Both the OIA Red East and West divisions had so much balance, nobody is really surprised that the regular season ended with logjams. The traffic tie-ups had three teams at 3-3 in the East, leaving the league to a coin flip that will be done this morning during an athletic directors' meeting at Kailua. The coin flip will determine seeding for Castle, Kailua and Kalaheo. All have qualified for the playoffs.
In the West, there will be no coin flip. Four teams, also at 3-3, were tied for the final three playoff berths. Campbell and Kapolei made it into the postseason based on head-to-head play with the other 3-3 teams. That left Leilehua and Aiea, and Aiea became the odd team out. The tiebreaker boiled down to Na Alii's game with Leilehua last week, won by the Mules 21-6.
OIA football coordinator Harold Tanaka, a longtime coach before becoming athletic director at Farrington, doesn't remember such a tangled web of a finish.
"I think since I became (football) coordinator, this is the most I've seen. It's never been like this. There's so much parity."
The West, in particular, has grown stronger as Oahu's population base has shifted. As many as four teams from the Red West have been in the Top 10 simultaneously. Among them was Aiea, arguably the most potent offensive unit in the OIA.
"We're gonna talk tomorrow. I told them the situation doesn't look good," longtime Aiea coach Wendell Say said last night. He expects a call from the league after an official review of the tiebreaker breakdown.
"I tried to figure it out, too. We beat two of the top three teams in the division in Waianae and Campbell. It's unfortunate. I feel that we had a legitimate shot at vying for the championship. We had some unfortunate incidents that affected that, and we moved on, but it's disappointing," he said.
With so many evenly matched teams, the question is this: Are six regular-season games enough to filter out postseason berths? In the 1980s, teams played eight games before the playoffs, and mass ties were rare. The current format -- seven teams in each Red division -- doesn't lend itself to a longer schedule. In addition, the league is committed to the nonconference "crossover" games with the ILH, Tanaka said.
The fan-friendly crossover games, plus an additional nonconference game, give OIA Red teams room for up to eight games.
"I've been fielding calls from a lot of coaches, offering their condolences. I didn't pass away," Say said, trying to maintain a sense of humor. "(Castle coach) Nelson (Maeda) was mentioning that there's not enough games. That's the biggest problem, and you have a situation like this. But that would mean figuring out how to squeeze teams out of the White (Conference). But this is how the setup is. I'm not going to complain or anything. We'll go with what happens. We still gotta move on.
"We had control of our destiny. We had our opportunities to beat Leilehua and Mililani. That's how things roll and life goes on."
Star-Bulletin/KITV4 Football Poll
| 1. Saint Louis, 7-0 (15)
| 2. Kahuku, 6-2
||does not play
| 3. Punahou, 4-2
||lost to Saint Louis
| 4. Mililani, 7-1
||does not play
| 5. Baldwin, 5-1
| 6. Kamehameha, 3-2-1
| 7. Lahainaluna, 6-0
| 8. Waianae, 6-2
||does not play
| 9. Farrington, 4-2-2
||does not play
|10. Iolani, 4-3
» Voted on by coaches and media from around the state
» First-place votes in parentheses
» 10 points for first-place vote, 9 for second, 8 for third; etc.
» Also received votes: Kealakehe 11, Kaimuki 5, Castle 3, Kalaheo 2
» No longer in top 10 (previous rank): Kapolei (tied at No. 9), Leilehua (tied at No. 9)