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High schools compromise on state football tournament divisions

  • JAMM AQUINO / NOV. 18

    Lahainaluna celebrated with the championship trophy after beating Kapaa in the HHSAA Division II state championship game.

Hawaii’s high school football administrators came up with a compromise to keep the three-tiered state tournament intact today.

Representatives of all five leagues voted on and passed a proposal that changes the tournament to three divisions of four teams each this morning at a meeting of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association football committee on the Kaimuki High campus.

The top-tiered Division I-Open for 2017 will consist of the Oahu Interscholastic Association’s best three teams and the Interscholastic League of Honolulu’s Division I champion.

In the middle-tiered Division I of the 2017 states, there will be a distinct neighbor islands flavor. All three D-I champions from the Big Island, Maui and Kauai will qualify along with one of two teams from the ILH, either Damien or St. Francis.

The D-II state qualifying teams will be the D-II champions from the OIA, Big Island and Maui along with one of two teams from the ILH, either ‘Iolani or Pac-Five.

The ILH’s Big Three — Saint Louis, Punahou and Kamehameha — will be vying for the league’s lone Division I-Open spot. The rest of the ILH slotting for state-tournament purposes was based on the league’s planned state declarations that it decided on at a meeting a few months ago.

HHSAA executive director Chris Chun, who said he was pleased with the new state football format, did not supply an actual count of how the leagues voted.

In 2016, a pilot program that created a third division (up from two) began and a measure to continue it this year passed through the HHSAA executive board in June. But the OIA threw a wrench into those plans, essentially saying it was only going to declare its 22 teams for two of the three divisions.

The HHSAA football committee then went to work to find out how the three-tiered format could be saved. A big change for this year is that the ILH has only one team in the top tier instead of two, and the OIA has three instead of four. That 3-to-1 ratio more directly corresponds to the number of football teams that are in the leagues — 22 for the OIA and seven for the ILH.

Overall, there will be eight fewer teams; Division I-Open went down from six to four; Division I went down from eight (4 OIA, 1 ILH, 2 Big Island, 1 Maui) to four; and the D-II slate went down from six (2 OIA, 1 ILH, 1 Kauai, 1 Maui, 1 Big Island) to four.

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