Four-time defending D-II state champ Lahainaluna levels up as HHSAA nears closer to a start date for the fall

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Lahainaluna Lunas

No matter when high school football is next played in Hawaii, all three of its defending champions will be facing different circumstances. A new era begins at Saint Louis, winners of the last four HHSAA Open Division titles, where Ron Lee takes over for his brother, Cal, as head coach. For Hilo, who won the Division I title in 2019, new head coach Lave Suiaunoa replaces Kaeo Drummundo at the helm.

Meanwhile on Maui, Lahainaluna, who has won the last four HHSAA Division II titles, will be making the move up to Division I. It’s a move that has been in the works for years, according to co-head coach Dean Rickard.

“We’re very excited. It’s something that’s been coming for a while, going back a couple years actually now,” Rickard said. “The players are excited, the community is excited, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Lunas have gone 25-0 against MIL competition dating back to 2016, which was also the year that its HHSAA D-II four-peat began. They’ve also won 14 straight MIL titles.

As for when prep football will be played next, HHSAA executive director Chris Chun is hopeful that the season will be held during the 2020-2021 academic year. Discussions have been held about holding the season next spring as the state sorts through its options during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m optimistically confident, I guess I just have to be. High school sports depends on football the same way as college and everything else,” Chun said. “We’ll do everything we can to play every sport this season and hopefully it works out. It just broke our heart in the spring that students had to miss their senior seasons and juniors and sophomores as well. We don’t want that to happen again to any sport. I’m hopeful that football gets played but I’m hopeful that all the sports get played as well.”

The HHSAA will meet on Monday to discuss and potentially finalize its sports slate for the upcoming academic year. All options will be explored, including shorter seasons and sports played at times of the year they’re not typically played in.

“They thought that that would be the best for all the sports and now possibly we can play with shorter seasons,” Chun said. “If there is something that can be done that maybe forces us to stop again, that we would have time on the back end to make up for stuff.

“So that’s where it’s at right now, they’re taking it back to the leagues on whether or not they would want a 10-week, 11-week or 12-week season, and they’re looking at what weeks would work best for them to start from and I think we can come up with a start date calendar or a state tournament calendar, a tentative one anyway by next Monday.”

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