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ANALYSIS: Kapaa Football Is Likely Headed To Division I, With State Tournament Format A 4-6-6 Setup

The Kapaa Warriors made a huge impression on football fans across the state last season when they captured the Division II football state championship.

But it’s doubtful the Warriors will get to repeat as D-II state champs because there is a strong possibility that they are moving up to Division I, Kapaa coach Mike Tresler told Bedrock Sports Hawaii.

Tresler talked as if Kapaa had already made the move up.

But that change is not official yet. According to Hawaii High School Athletic Association football committee chairman Wendell Look, all leagues have until the end of August to officially declare which schools will play in which division and typically declarations aren’t made this early in the year.

So, an official pronouncement of what Tresler in his heart believes to be already true may not come for a while.

In addition, Bedrock Sports Hawaii learned from various sources that it’s also likely that if Kapaa declares as D-I, then the other two KIF teams — Kauai and Waimea — would continue to be classified as D-II with one of them advancing to the D-II state tournament.

Under a new rule passed by the Hawaii Interscholastic Athletic Directors Association and the HHSAA executive board earlier this month, leagues for the first time can enter teams into a state tournament even if the team is the only league member classified in a particular division. This, ostensibly, opened the door for Kapaa to be KIF’s lone wolf in D-II — as well as the ILH’s PAC-5 to go solo in D-II — without losing state tournament privileges.

For fun, Bedrock Sports Hawaii took a good, long look at what the 2022 state championship format (with total number of league berths) may look like by the time all of the leagues make their official declaration.

The following is what Bedrock Sports Hawaii believes would make the most sense. After taking a look at that, be sure to continue reading to hear what Tresler has to say about his Warriors, who took the state D-II football world by storm last season.

2002 Football State Championships Possible Format

Open Division
>> ILH Open champion
>> OIA Open champion
>> OIA Open runner-up
>> OIA Open third place

Division I
>> ILH D-I representative (Damien or ‘Iolani)
>> OIA D-I champion
>> OIA D-I runner-up
>> KIF D-I representative (Kapaa)
>> MIL D-I champion
>> BIIF D-I champion

Division II
>> ILH D-II representative (PAC-5)
>> OIA D-II champion
>> OIA D-II runner-up
>> KIF D-II representative (Kauai or Waimea)
>> MIL D-II champion (Kamehameha-Maui or King Kekaulike)
>> BIIF D-II champion

In 2021, the state tournament format was a 4 Open (no change), 4 D-I (ILH, OIA, MIL, BIIF), and 4 D-II (OIA, MIL, BIIF, KIF) setup.

Tresler And The Warriors Are Raring To Go In D-I

Tresler is looking forward to the Warriors playing in the higher classification.

“We’re excited,” he said. “We accomplished one of our goals, winning the D-II state title. Our other goal is to win a D-I state championship.”

Tresler tempered his optimism just a bit, realizing that setting something as a goal and actually succeeding in doing it are two very different things.

“We’re very much building the program,” he added. “This is really my second year. In 2020, it was the pandemic year and we’re still recovering from that. But we’ve got this (D-I) opportunity and we always love the challenges, and obviously it’s a huge challenge for us.”

Many of Tresler’s top players are back from what was a young squad in 2021.

“We are well ahead of where we were last season for sure,” he said. “We’re coaching ’em up and it’s exciting.”

Solomone Malafu, a linebacker and running back who has 13 Division I FBS college offers, returns as one of Kapaa’s senior captains.

“He’s doing very well,” Tresler said about Malafu. “He’s a hard worker, smart and he keeps getting better every day. He went on a lot of recruiting trips , but that has ended and he’s getting focused. I’m looking forward to getting him back on the field and letting him do this thing. We need him to have a great year.”

Other top returnees for Kapaa are defensive back Jayden Yamashita, defensive lineman Bruno Likio, defensive end Connor Kitamura, quarterback Kapono Na-0, wide receiver Canaan Coleman and linemen Lono Aki (6 feet, 4, 40o pounds) and Koa Kanakaole (6-3, 315).

As an added bonus, running back Kahiapo Kuhaulua Leong, who played at Kamehameha last year, is staying home on Kauai to suit up for Kapaa this year.

Tresler is thinking big. The Warriors will test their mettle against OIA Open Division perennial contender Mililani in a scrimmage on July 28. The coach is working on trying to get Vidinha Stadium as a venue for that one.

Kapaa’s only nonleague game in 2022 is against OIA D-I reigning champion Aiea at the Radford High School field on Aug. 6.



2022 Hawaii High School Football Command Center


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