Maeda’s Take On New OIA Foot­ball Team Re­align­ments

MidWeek Islander (Windward Oahu) - - Windward Oahu Sports - By JACK DANILEWICZ

For Wind­ward’s three Di­vi­sion I prep foot­ball pro­grams, each one’s sched­ule will have a new look next fall, fol­low­ing the re­cent OIA de­ci­sion to re­align its Red di­vi­sions.

Un­like in past years, where ge­og­ra­phy was the driv­ing force in di­vid­ing the schools, the teams are ranked based on their records from the past two sea­sons, ac­cord­ing to sources.

As a re­sult, one di­vi­sion in the Red con­fer­ence will have Kahuku, Cas­tle, Leile­hua, Kaiser, Wa­ianae, McKin­ley and Waipahu. The other still-to-be-named divi- sion in­cludes Mililani, Far­ring­ton, Camp­bell, Moanalua, Kapolei, Kailua and Aiea.

One ef­fect of the new for­mat is that the “Ham­mer Tro­phy” game be­tween Cas­tle and Kailua will no longer be an an­nual event, as both teams are now in sep­a­rate di­vi­sions.

Long­time Knights coach Nel­son Maeda isn’t among sup­port­ers of the new for­mat, not­ing that “Head coaches were not con­sulted.

“It re­ally is sad that we don’t play a neigh­bor­ing school some four miles away, a ri­valry that has a life of its own in the rich­ness of the tra­di­tion and brag­ging rights, for the Cas­tle-Kailua com­mu­ni­ties,” he said. “Many are dis­ap­pointed that the play for the Ham­mer Tro­phy might dis­ap­pear. The only pos­si­ble sce­nario to play each other in the new re­align­ment in the next two sea­sons is if both of our teams move on to the play­offs and win un­til we meet up.

“I am not happy with this new for­mat,” Maeda ad­mit­ted, “and I don’t think I’m in the mi­nor­ity ei­ther. This re­align­ment was rec­om­mended by the ath­letic di­rec­tors and ap­proved by the prin­ci­pals. Coaches had no say in the mat­ter. We lose the ri­valry games of the old East-West di­vi­sional for­mat and will have to travel is­land­wide.

“I do not look for­ward to trav­el­ing west­bound on a Fri­day af­ter­noon in pau hana traf­fic mov­ing at a snail’s pace,” he added. “To have to do so in the play­offs is one thing, but to have to do so for a sea­sonal game is en­tirely dif­fer­ent and avoid­able. It is mind-bog­gling what the OIA has moved to. It def­i­nitely im­pacts game pre­pared­ness on the trav­el­ing team.”

At the col­lege level, the Big Ten Con­fer­ence di­vided into two di­vi­sions five years ago when Ne­braska was added to the league. Among its pri­or­i­ties was to pre­serve what it con­sid­ers “pro­tected ri­val­ries.” North­west­ern and ri­val Illi­nois, for in­stance, are in sep­a­rate di­vi­sions, but still play each other in their sea­son fi­nale as a cross-over. The Ohio StateMichi­gan game is also among the pro­tected ri­valry games.

Maeda likes the idea of a sim­i­lar ar­range­ment be­ing im­ple­mented in the OIA Red. “I think the idea of ‘Pro­tected Ri­valry’ is a great idea!,” he said. “Many people would fa­vor that. Imag­ine — Cas­tle-Kailua, Far­ring­ton-Kahuku, Far­ring­ton-McKin­ley, Leile­huaMililani, Aiea- Rad­ford, Camp­bell-Kapolei, Kaimuki-Kalani, Camp­bell-Waipahu, and oth­ers, would con­tinue. It’s not about be­ing nos­tal­gic in stay­ing with the East-West for­mat, but it just makes sense for ge­o­graph­i­cal, ri­valry and tra­di­tional rea­sons.”

In the OIA Red, each team will play one cross­over op­po­nent on the weekend of Aug. 15-16. Cas­tle’s cross-over op­po­nent for 2014 will be Camp­bell. Un­der the new for­mat, Kailua and Kahuku also will no longer be an an­nual matchup. Kala­heo will be com­pet­ing in Di­vi­sion II next sea­son so lit­tle has changed for the Mus­tangs, sched­ule-wise. (Kaiser is the new ad­di­tion to Di­vi­sion I, while Kaimuki moved down to DII).

Cas­tle High foot­ball coach Nel­son Maeda. File photo by Nathalie Walker, nwalker@mid­week.com.

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