Maeda’s Take On New OIA Football Team Realignments

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

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

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 division 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 State-Michigan 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, Leilehua-Mililani, 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).