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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, September 6, 2002

Every team makes BIIF playoffs in new format

By Dennis Anderson
Advertiser Staff Writer

A new format in Big Island Interscholastic Federation football will send all eight teams into a championship tournament in November.

"In theory somebody could go 0-7 in the regular season, win their last three (in the tournament) and be champs," new Konawaena head coach Todd Brown said. The tournament champion will represent the Big Island in the state tournament starting Nov. 22.

"Right now, we're playing for seeding," Brown said of the round-robin season, which opens tonight. The team with the best regular-season record will play the team with the worst record in the first round of the tournament, and so on.

The BIIF previously had its top four teams in regular-season standings play a round-robin. Last season was shortened because of Sept. 11. Konawaena and Waiakea tied for the title with 7-1 records, and Waiakea went to the state tournament because it defeated Konawaena.

The eight-team setup "is good for a small school because it gives us one more chance," said coach Belden Kealoha of 620-student Kohala High. "An upset would be a big thing." Kohala went 2-6 in the BIIF last year.

Konawaena's Brown said, "The team that avoids injuries, avoids grade problems and peaks at the right time could sweep right in and win it.

"I'm not sure that I like it, but if we win our last three games, I think I'll really like it!"

Seeding in the tournament will be important, Kealakehe coach Sam Papali'i noted. His Waveriders and Waiakea open their seasons at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Old Kona Airport Park in the first "seeding showdown."

"Kealakehe has the athletes," Hawai'i Prep coach Tom Goodspeed said.

Waiakea coach Ed Rocha said he doesn't mind playing another top-rated team so early. "It's the best time to see what we can do and what they have, too," Rocha said.

"They're bigger than we are (including a 360-pound center and 305-pound offensive guard) and they are solid against the run (Kealakehe linebacker James Kamoku is being recruited by the likes of Oregon and Nebraska)," Rocha said. "We might throw more than we run."

Not everyone looks at Kealakehe, Waiakea and Konawaena as the dominant teams. Honoka'a coach Paul Purdy predicted, "This year will be a surprise with a couple of new teams at the top, one of them being us."

Konawaena's Brown said, "There is a huge turnover in the league because so many players graduated. I think it's really wide open.

"You have to consider Kealakehe because of the numbers of kids; HPA is well coached, Kea'au has its first senior class, with a lot of transfers. ... It could be us," Brown said.

Hilo's Albert Kawelu Jr. will be starting mainly juniors, but thinks the Vikings might not have to wait until next year to contend. He's especially proud that "our best players are all good students. The offensive line's grade-point average is about 3.5."