POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 9, 2011
As Kamehameha football coach David Stant walked off the Aloha Stadium field last week, an intended well-wisher told him good luck in states.
Stant had to correct the person with, "Thank you, but unfortunately there is no next week for us."
Kamehameha was less than a yard short of perhaps at least tying Punahou when the Interscholastic League of Honolulu championship game ended, and the Buffanblu won 24-17. Punahou advances, but there is no place for Kamehameha among the 12 teams (six in Division I) in the state tournaments starting this week.
Maybe there are few tears being shed away from Kapalama Heights for the Warriors, who are perceived as among the haves in Hawaii high school sports. But there should be. And that's because the ILH runners-up belong in states.
OK, you ask, whom would they replace?
The answer is simple: No one. Division I should have an eight-team tournament, not six.
THE REASONS are quality of competition, finances and fairness.
» If you believe in the best teams in the state playing in the state tournament, the No. 2 squad from the ILH should always at least get a chance to play in to a six-team tournament — or, better yet, get an annual berth in an eight-team tournament. All you have to do is see them play once and you'll know it.
» High school sports are strapped for money. Punahou, Kamehameha and Saint Louis all have large followings that put dollars into the prep coffers whenever they play in states. It makes no fiscal sense to leave out two of the three.
» Some say it wouldn't be fair to have two of the three ILH Division I teams in the tournament. But an eight-team tournament would actually level competition by eliminating byes for the top two seeds.
Even Stant acknowledges that an extra week before the Warriors' 2009 state semifinal was a huge advantage on the way to the championship.
"I kind of agree," Hawaii High School Athletic Association executive director Chris Chun said. "Look at (Division II) Kapaa. They played (Monday) and have to play again Saturday."
Meanwhile, Waipahu and ‘Iolani get byes, as do Kahuku and Punahou in Division I.
An eight-team Division II tournament is not feasible, though, because the additional teams would not draw enough to offset costs, as they would in Division I.
This might be the most balanced field in the 13-year history of the state tournament, so the omission is not as blatant as in other years. But the No. 2 ILH team should have a chance, at least in a play-in game.
In addition to Kamehameha, an excellent Campbell team could have made an eight-team field.
PLEASE, ATHLETIC directors, when you meet next spring, consider making the state Division I football tournament an eight-team event.
It doesn't help only the ILH. Remember, an eight-team tournament means another public school gets in, too.