Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, July 5, 2001


nears reality

HHSAA and California schools
are talking about a football
doubleheader in 2002

By Dave Reardon

Some serious groundwork has been laid for a high school football doubleheader here matching national powers De La Salle and Mater Dei against two Oahu champions.

The event even has a date -- it is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 21, 2002, at Aloha Stadium (the University of Hawaii is not scheduled to play at home).

Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Keith Amemiya has made major inroads toward matching the mainland teams -- both of which have been ranked No. 1 in the nation by USA Today -- against the 2001 champions of the Oahu Interscholastic Association and the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. But Amemiya stresses the event is still far from a firm reality.

"It's beyond theoretical talk. Both (mainland) schools are receptive to the idea," Amemiya said. "I would love to say it's a done deal, but it could take some time to iron out the details. We're starting the groundwork now. Games of this magnitude take a lot of advance planning and approvals."

De La Salle High School

Nickname: Spartans
Location: Concord, Calif.
>> Ongoing 113-game winning streak
>> Hasn't lost since 1991
>> Ranked No. 1 by USA Today at end of 2000 season.
>> Notable football alumni include D.J. Williams (1999 USA Today Defensive Player of the Year, current University of Miami linebacker) and Amani Toomer (New York Giants wide receiver).

Mater Dei High School

Nickname: Monarchs
Location: Santa Ana, Calif.
>> Won CIF Southern Section championship (largest class) five times in 1990s.
>> Ranked No. 1 by USA Today at end of 1994 and 1996 seasons.
>> Notable football alumni include John Huarte (1964 Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame), Lenny Vandermade (current starting center at Southern Cal) and Calvin Millhouse (current University of Hawaii defensive back).

ILH executive secretary Clay Benham said he is all for the concept.

"I am absolutely supportive. It's a natural," he said. "I think it would escalate the image of football in the Islands. It would generate more interest for high school football here. Also, there is the potential for financial gains."

OIA executive secretary Dwight Toyama said he would have to meet with league athletic directors and principals to approve participation of an OIA team.

"It sounds interesting, but it's something we have to discuss with the body when we get more detail about finances and scheduling," Toyama said.

Another of Toyama's concerns is that the top OIA teams already play a schedule of up to 15 games, including preseason, regular-season, league-tournament and state-tournament games.

Amemiya wants the OIA champion to participate. But if it can't, the ILH runner-up could play instead, he said.

De La Salle (Concord, Calif.) athletic director Terry Eidson said the Spartans are all ears.

"I can't speak to the doubleheader. But Keith and I have been talking and our principal is aware. We're definitely interested," Eidson said. "With a two-year window we can get things organized."

Mater Dei assistant coach Hiram de Fries, a 1959 Punahou graduate, has been Amemiya's contact from the Santa Monica, Calif., school.

"We're working on it," de Fries said. "A number of things have to come together. One of our main concerns is our relationship with our opponents and that such a game would be a good game for us and a good game for them."

Amemiya's plan is to secure a television contract (Fox often televises games of top high school teams like De La Salle and Mater Dei) and corporate sponsorship. Combined with ticket sales, he hopes enough money will be made to pay for the visiting teams' travel expenses.

Eidson estimated the travel cost for his team at $40,000-60,000.

Profit would be split among the OIA, ILH (50 percent, with shares proportionate to number of football teams in each league), HHSAA (25 percent) and the participating Hawaii schools (12.5 percent each), Amemiya said. The HHSAA money would go toward funding non-revenue-producing state tournaments.

There has been talk the past several years of a game between St. Louis (which has won the last 15 ILH championships and been ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation) and De La Salle, but there has been little direct contact between the schools' athletic departments.

De La Salle has won 113 consecutive games going into this fall. It is the longest high school football winning streak on national record. One of those victories was 31-28 over Mater Dei last September.

At the time of the proposed doubleheader, the mainland team that is ranked higher will play the higher ranked Hawaii team, Amemiya said.

"I feel good about the possible matchups because both De La Salle and Mater Dei are not only successful on the football field, but are well respected and have a lot of class," Amemiya said. "Based on their recent success, they are truly among the national elite of high school football."

De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur, who was on Maui last week for induction to the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, also said at the time he is open to a game against one of Hawaii's top teams.

The event would have to get the National Federation of State High School Association's approval.

NFHS executive director Robert Kanaby "appears open-minded" to the general concept of the doubleheader, Amemiya said.

"If the game takes place during the season and it is not deemed to be a national championship game, then the NFHS doesn't have a problem with that," Amemiya said.

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