Kahuku’s season is done.
After 10 mostly dominating victories and not a single defeat, the top-ranked Red Raiders’ season came to an end due to the use of an ineligible player.
“The OIA rules committee has found that whatever was self-reported (by Kahuku), and that’s a credit to the school, and they found that Kahuku had played an ineligible player, so there’s no game they’re playing tonight,” OIA official Meredith Maeda said.
The OIA White Conference title game between Kaimuki and Kalaheo, scheduled to kick off at 4:30 p.m., will move back to 6 p.m., according to the OIA.
The Oahu Interscholastic Association ruled that the ineligible player’s involvement immediately sinks Kahuku’s place in the current league playoffs. Kahuku was to have played Mililani for the OIA Red title tonight at Aloha Stadium.
Instead, Mililani will have the league’s seeded berth in the state tournament. OIA executive director Dwight Toyama said the Trojans will also be considered the league champion.
Meanwhile, the third-place game tomorrow between Leilehua and Waianae that would have settled the final state-tourney berth, will still be played. However, both teams have now qualified for the tournament, along with Mililani, and will be playing for the second and third OIA berths, according to the Hawaii High School Athletic Association.
OIA officials did not comment on how many games the ineligible player participated in, whether it was all games or just a few.
This is the first time a title contender’s season has been forfeited, let alone on the day of a championship game.
“It’s really unfortunate, especially for the seniors on that team,” said Darnell Arceneaux, coach of the No. 2-ranked Saint Louis Crusaders. “It’s one of those things that you never want to see happen because you’re talking about our student-athletes.”
The rumor that sparked the whole situation was floated nearly two weeks ago, claiming that two Kahuku players were fifth-year seniors. Kahuku self-reported the possibility of an ineligible player to Toyama on Wednesday. The principals met for three hours on Thursday night, then convened again this morning at 11. By 12:30 p.m., the news was official.
The OIA noted that only one player was investigated.
The question everything boiled down to was when the player began his freshman year.
“On the eligibility list, he’s in ninth grade starting in 2007,” Toyama said. “But when we looked back, it was ’06.”
According to statewide rules, a student-athlete’s eligibility clock begins as a ninth-grader and he or she can play the next four years and nothing more. Age-wise, the player was young enough, but his clock had already run out.
“The sad thing is, he meets the age eligibility,” Toyama added. “It’s a tough one.”
No having Kahuku in the upcoming state football tournament will put a damper on what fans had hoped would be a rematch of the Nos. 1 and 2 teams in The Star-Advertiser Top 10 football poll. Kahuku beat Saint Louis in a preseason game.
“For (Saint Louis), we can only control what we control,” Arceneaux said. “We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do and that’s to move forward and gear up for our state championship run.”