Big challenges await MIL football teams
By Fred Guzman
The two teams have already clinched their respective divisions of the MIL going into Friday night’s regular-season finale at War Memorial Stadium, but both are well aware that they face formidable challenges in their opening round games of the state football tournament.
Let’s just say that the seeding committee didn’t do either Baldwin or Lahainaluna any favors in the pairings that were announced Tuesday.
As the third seed in the Division-I tournament, Baldwin will be at home for a Friday, Nov. 20, quarterfinal game against the loser of this week’s OIA-Red title game between top-ranked Kahuku and defending state runnerup Leilehua.
The Lunas were seeded No. 4 in the D-II tourney, and have been assigned to play on the road on the same night against the loser of the OIA-White showdown between Moanalua and Aiea.
The temptation for Baldwin and the Lunas is to play things close to the vest in an effort to rest players, guard against injuries and not show too many of their cards to their future opponents.
That, in my view, would be a mistake. Local bragging rights are on the line for the two teams that have dominated MIL football over the past decade.
Just as important, taking the foot off the pedal isn’t going to properly prepare the MIL teams for OIA teams that are getting battle-tested in a playoff format leading up to the state tournament.