WAILUKU - As it did when it won the Maui Interscholastic League's only state football title - in 2006 - King Kekaulike High School will compete in Division II in the sport this season.
The decision was proposed by MIL athletic directors in a vote on Thursday and ratified by the league's principals later in the day.
That leaves just seven-time defending champion Baldwin and Maui High in Division I, but the five-team MIL football race features a double round-robin schedule for every team. Division II now includes Na Alii, Lahainaluna and Kamehameha Maui.
The MIL was the first league in the state to separate Divisions I and II by school size more than a decade ago, and the reason for King Kekaulike's return to D-II is that the school's enrollment has fallen to about 1,000, similar to Lahainaluna's.
In all sports except football, Division I in the MIL is Baldwin, Maui High, Lahainaluna, Kamehameha Maui and King Kekaulike, and that will remain the same. All other schools are D-II in non-football sports.
"They have seen a dramatic (enrollment) decrease and they requested to go to D-II (for football)," MIL football coordinator and Lahainaluna AD Scott Soldwisch said.
Saturday, Aug. 11
Roosevelt at King Kekaulike, 2 p.m.
Honokaa at Kamehameha Maui, 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 17
Lahainaluna vs. Kea'au at Hilo, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 18
Kapaa at Kamehameha Maui, 7 p.m.
Maui High at Konawaena, 7 p.m.
Kauai at King Kekaulike, time TBA
Saturday, Aug. 25
Baldwin vs. St. Louis at Aloha Stadium, time TBA
Note: All games listed to be played at War Memorial Stadium, 7 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 24
Maui High vs. Kamehameha Maui
Saturday, Aug. 25
Lahainaluna vs. King Kekaulike
Friday, Aug. 31
Lahainaluna vs. Kamehameha Maui
Saturday, Sept. 1
Baldwin vs. Maui High
The 1,000 enrollment figure is a rough guideline the MIL set for separating divisions for football when the Division II state tournament was established in 2003.
Also, for the first time since the 2005 season, the MIL will revert back to a two-round format, where a possible championship game would be played between the round winners in each division. Each team plays its opponents in the same order in each round. The first round runs from Aug. 24 to Sept. 22. The second round is Sept. 28 to Oct. 27.
"I think in recent years championships have been clinched early in the season and the majority of the league felt that the previous system with a first-round, second-round format kept the interest of both the fans and the players later into the season," Soldwisch said.
Teams still have the opportunity to play up to two preseason games, as they have in the past. King Kekaulike and Kamehameha Maui are the only MIL teams that have two nonleague games this season.
The league has set aside Nov. 2 and 3 for possible league title games, something it also did in case of a full season tie in recent years.
"Now the likelihood of a championship playoff is greater," Soldwisch said.
Soldwisch also announced a minor schedule change for football - Baldwin and Kamehameha Maui have swapped home dates. Baldwin will now host the Warriors on Sept. 15 at War Memorial Stadium and Kamehameha will host the Bears on Oct. 19 at Kanaiaupuni Stadium.
* Robert Collias is at email@example.com