Football the unknown as BIIF practices set to return Sept. 27

The BIIF fall sports seasons are beginning to take shape and the fields of play are being cleared for practice. It’s those football fields where the pictures will take a little longer to become clear.

Eligible public school athletes can get back to work Sept. 27, and BIIF executive secretary Lyle Crozier said Saturday he was on the verge of releasing schedules in three sports, while a proposed volleyball schedule also was in the works.

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The revamped football schedule has games beginning in mid-October, but since the sport requires larger roster sizes, certain teams may be in wait-and-see mode until its determined which athletes met the Department of Education mandate to be vaccinated by Sept. 10, or can receive a medical or religious exemption.

“That schedule might have to change depending on who shows up,” Crozier said. “Football is the one we don’t know about.”

Hilo High football coach Chris Todd said he was confident his team would open practice in eight days. He said he’d need at least 30 players to field a competitive team and could easily meet that threshold.

“We are compiling a lot of information,” Todd said. “I know that a big majority of the guys we are counting on were fully vaccinated, but I don’t have the exact numbers.”

Konawaena coach Brad Uemoto was less clear on his numbers, but he was confident the situation would work itself out. The Wildcats, he said, fielded a roster with as few as 27 players in 2018, all the while remaining a contender.

“I look at this as an advantage for us,” Uemoto said. “We’re accustomed to playing with lower numbers. I feel optimistic that we’re going to be able to compete.”

Crozier was set to release schedules for cross-country, bowling and air riflery, individual sports that require fewer participants. The volleyball season will be divided along East and West sides before the postseason.

“In talking to the ADs, it seems like most (volleyball) schools will have a season,” Crozier said.

He also said there would be a competitive cheer season.

BIIF football schedule 2.0, released Friday, is a condensed, one-round divisional slate that features all 11 teams that were on the original schedule, and a semifinal round that wasn’t.

After an acclimatization period, the first games are scheduled for Oct. 15, with two Division II contests (Ka’u at Kamehameha and Kohala at Honokaa). The opening weekend is marked as preseason for Division I teams (Hilo High, Waiakea, Keaau, Kealakehe and Konawaena).

Those five will get going the following weekend, with Hilo and Konawaena meeting Friday, Oct. 22, in what likely will be the most anticipated matchup of the regular season.

The DOE announced its mandate Aug. 4, and all things considered Todd is happy with the direction his team is headed.

“We’ve had a few players move to Utah, and it’s pretty hard to fault families for making that decision,” he said. “I appreciate those that have stuck it out, and I want to make sure we can do everything to make it right.”

The schedule calls for each team to play divisional opponents once – that’s half as many as the home-and-home format featured on the original schedule — though Kamehameha has seven games, including two nonleague games, one apiece against Keaau and Kealakehe. Those D-I teams each play five games, while the other three play four. Besides Kamehameha, the other D-II teams have five games.

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Another new facet of schedule 2.0: BIIF semifinals. Previously only two teams advanced to the postseason.

The D-I semis will be held Nov. 26, with the title game Dec. 3. The D-II semis and finals are Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, respectively. The state D-I and D-II tournaments begin Dec. 24-25.