Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, June 21, 2001


Damien Memorial High School football players Ryan Buffett,
left, and Kelsey Pascua, not pictured, filled out questionaires
prior to a team, administration and parent meeting
at Damien yesterday.

Forfeits prompt
changes in ILH

The league splits the teams
into 2 divisions, but Damien
still won't play St. Louis

St. Louis may get mainland foes
What do you think?
Damien parents unsatisfied

By Jason Kaneshiro and Dave Reardon |

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu will adopt a two-division format for the upcoming varsity football season.

The arrangement to split the league into two three-team divisions for at least one season was agreed upon at the league's principals meeting yesterday morning on the campus of La Pietra-Hawaii School for Girls.

The action is in response to Damien Memorial High School's intention to forfeit the football team's games against St. Louis School this season.

"I think (the ILH principals and athletic directors) engaged in very healthy professional dialogue," ILH executive secretary Clay Benham said. "I was extremely happy that there were no hard feelings, and at least outwardly they seemed to be satisfied with the decision."

The plan calls for seven-game regular-season schedules for the ILH varsity teams. Only five games will count in the league standings.

The first division will consist of Kamehameha, Punahou and St. Louis, while Damien, Iolani and Pac-Five will play in the second division.

The teams will play their division partners twice -- once in a preliminary round and again in a round-robin in which all six teams face each other. Only the five round-robin games count toward the ILH championship.

The week before the state tournament will be reserved for a playoff game if necessary.

"All we have to do now is work out the schedule," St. Louis athletic director and head football coach Cal Lee said. Lee is also the ILH football coordinator and is responsible for drawing up the league schedule.

Since 1970, the ILH teams have played each other twice for a 10-game season. The concept for the new format was proposed by Mid-Pacific athletic director and Pac-Five head coach Don Botelho at last week's ILH athletic director workshop.

Other league officials helped hone the format, Benham said. It will be evaluated after the season.

While the schedule still includes a game between Damien and St. Louis, the Monarchs have the option to forfeit the game during the season, Benham said.

In a letter to St. Louis president Fr. Allen DeLong (of which a copy was sent to the ILH), Damien president Br. Gregory O'Donnell cited safety concerns as the primary reason for pulling out of the games against the Crusaders. In the last six St. Louis-Damien games the Crusaders have outscored the Monarchs, 415-7.

"The plan at this time is to not play that game," O'Donnell said after the meeting.

Said Benham: "That prerogative (to forfeit) has not been taken away and we will honor that prerogative. By the time the first few games are completed he may change his mind. But that has not been set as of the present."

Although the option to reinstate the game was left open, O'Donnell reiterated the intention of the administration to forfeit the game at a meeting with team parents yesterday afternoon.

Teams will be allowed to schedule games on their own during their bye weeks. Those games would not count in the league standings. The arrangement opens the door for ILH teams to try to schedule games against Oahu Interscholastic Association, neighbor island and mainland opponents as well as ILH teams.

OIA executive secretary Dwight Toyama said yesterday he had not been contacted by ILH representatives.

He said OIA-ILH regular-season matchups are not possible at this point, as the league schedule has already been set and teams would not be allowed to schedule games on their own.

"It wouldn't be an equitable schedule if people just did things on their own like that," Toyama said. "That's what preseason is for. That's when they have the liberty to go outside the league."

Said St. Louis coach Lee: "I don't see us playing any midseason games with the OIA. Once the season starts they have a full agenda."

Keith Amemiya, executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, has also been keeping an eye on the developments and applauded the ILH effort.

"It sounds like a good compromise," Amemiya said. "It's better than the alternative of Damien not playing at all."

New format gives
Lee mainland options

The longtime football coach at
St. Louis calls a game against No. 1
De La Salle a better possibility

By Dave Reardon

The restructured Interscholastic League of Honolulu football format could make it easier for the nationally prominent St. Louis School program to schedule games against mainland teams, Crusaders head coach and athletic director Cal Lee said.

The new schedule for this season cuts the ILH season for each team from 10 games to seven. Teams are free to schedule games on their own on their off weeks.

"It gives us options," said Lee, whose teams have often been ranked nationally over the past 10 years and have won the last 15 ILH championships, including the possibility of "playing mainland teams or neighbor island teams. Yes, De La Salle is a better possibility now."

De La Salle of Concord, Calif., is still riding the nation's longest-ever winning streak of 113 games and is ranked No. 1 in the country by USA Today.

St. Louis and De La Salle officials have talked -- although not directly to each other -- for three years about playing each other. But dates and locations have been difficult to arrange.

Two seasons ago, St. Louis played 16 games (two preseason, 10 ILH regular season, one ILH playoff, three state tournament) without a week off. Lee said he is looking forward to a schedule with some bye weeks.

As for how the new format affects competition in the ILH, Lee said the setup is not perfect but could be a positive step toward statewide classification, where teams of disparate abilities don't play each other as often.

"It's as reasonable as you can get if you want to work to classification," said Lee, who is a proponent of the overall concept. "I think it works out."

He said he is disappointed that Damien still plans to forfeit its one game against St. Louis this fall, and not because the Crusaders beat the Monarchs by a combined 415-7 in their last six games.

Lee said he understands the factor of competitive balance, but that safety issues cited by Damien president Br. Gregory O'Donnell are common concerns of all football teams.

"I'd be worried about playing every team, not just St. Louis," Lee said. "It's the nature of the game that kids will get hurt on any team. We get tons of injuries, a lot of them happen in practice alone. I guess looking at it from his view he's saying it's one less game to get injuries."

Lee and O'Donnell parted with a firm, friendly handshake yesterday, and nearly everyone came out of yesterday's meeting with a smile.

Lee said he feels better now about going into his 21st season as St. Louis' head coach than he did before yesterday's action.

"We're always looking for the perfect day. There never is one, but this is close," he said. "I think overall it was good. Now we can get back to business."

What do you think?

>> What do you think of Damien's decision to forfeit its game against St. Louis?

>> Should the ILH's new scheduling format be permanent?

E-mail or fax 529-4787 with your thoughts.

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