The Hilo High and Konawaena High football teams usually have to wait until the end of the year to play in front of a statewide television audience on OC16, but showtime is coming early this season.
It’s high time the BIIF had such a showcase, Wildcats coach Brad Uemoto said.
“We’ve always had a dream of having (TV) come over and come to our island and show our teams,” he said. “(OC16) went to Kauai before. It makes sense. They represent Hawaii, and to have them come over here is really great.”
After a season lost to the pandemic, BIIF players probably won’t need any extra motivation to get after it Monday when they put on their helmets for the first time in more than a year. There is, however, an added bonus for the Vikings, Wildcats, Kamehameha and Hawaii Prep, who will kick off the season in style Saturday, Aug. 28, in a televised doublehheader at Paiea Stadium in Keaau.
Hawaii Prep and Kamehameha play at 4 p.m., followed by Konawaena and Hilo at 7:30 p.m. Both games are rematches of the 2019 league titles games.
This is believed to be the first time OC16 is televising BIIF regular season games in any sport. HHSAA football championship games are televised on pay-per-view, so Hilo – a state Division I finalist the past three seasons before the pandemic – is somewhat used to the big state, coach Chris Todd said.
“But we are excited and appreciative,” Todd said. “We know this was something that OC16 is not obligated to do.”
The regular season begins Friday, Aug. 27, when Honokaa hosts Pahoa in the Dragons’ return to Division II, and it ratchets up a day later with four games. The BIIF released its official schedule on Friday.
Kamehameha athletic director Kimo Weaver said the BIIF has not made a decision or received feedback from the county yet as to whether fans will be allowed in the stands for games.
The BIIF has retained its home-and-away, interdivision scheduling format, so Division I teams (Hilo, Konawaena, Kealakehe, Waiakea and Keaau) will each play eight games, while the D-II teams (Kamehameha, HPA, Honokaa, Pahoa, Kohala, Ka’u) will play 10 apiece.
Teams can begin mandatory conditioning and practices Monday, the official start date of Hawaii High School Athletic Association season. Prior to that, schools could hold voluntary workouts.
“We’ve been pretty fortunate to have a good turnout so far,” Todd said. “Starting Monday, we’re asking the guys to be more accountable and reliable.”
There is only one nonconference game listed on the schedule provided by the BIIF, an Aug. 21 matinee between Honokaa and Waiakea at Ken Yamase Memorial Stadium. Department of Education restrictions and various league mandates, in part, led to schools scheduling few nonconference games this year.
Uemoto said scrimmages may prove just as valuable, especially considering the layoff in competition.
“The scrimmage atmosphere may help players get back into the groove better,” he said. “They can ease back to work a little better and take it slower. They don’t have to get up for a game right away and can work on conditioning.”
The Vikings and Wildcats have a scrimmage planned, and Hilo also will scrimmage Kealakehe and Kamehameha, Todd said. He’s well aware that first-year varsity players in particular may need more time to develop due the lost time caused by the pandemic.
“We don’t want to put anyone in position to fail,” he said. “We’re working on a lot of fundamentals.”
Because of the divisional imbalance, each D-I team will receive two off weeks during a 10-week schedule that runs through Oct. 30. The championships games are the following week, with the HHSAA playoffs beginning the weekend of Nov. 12-13.
Some other highlights:
• After facing off during Week 1, Hilo and Konawaena will meet again on Oct. 1 in Kealakekua to begin second half of the season.
• The second meeting between Kamehameha and HPA will be Oct. 2 in Waimea.
• The renewal of West Hawaii’s rivalry comes on a Thursday night. The Waveriders visit the Wildcats on Sept. 23. The teams play again in Kailua-Kona during the last week of the regular season.
• There are three new coaches in the league. While Todd and Kamehameha’s Kealoha Wengler will debut during the Aug. 28 doubleheader, the first game for Kohala coach Jay Blanco is earlier that day at Ka’u.
• The league will again use Thursdays as a mechanism to spread out the schedule and ensure availability of officials. The first such contest is Sept. 9 matching Pahoa and Kamehameha.
• Pahoa is hitting the road for all 10 of its games. The Daggers play two games apiece at Honokaa and Kamehameha, and they are using Paiea for three other “home” games.
• As is Honokaa’s annual preference, five of their six home games are on Friday night. The other is on a Thursday.