By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
For Hilo coach David Baldwin, the All-Big Island Interscholastic Federation football snubs stood out just as much as the all-star picks.
Vikings senior defensive linemen Jon Salzman and Michael Williams each produced outstanding and valuable seasons. Salzman had a team-high 42 tackles and finished with a second-best 10.5 sacks while Williams was third in both tackles with 39 and sacks with 10. (Stats from espnhawaii.com’s Josh Pacheco of ESPN Radio Hilo/Kona.)
Neither landed on the All-BIIF Division I first team at defensive line. They also didn’t get honorable mention, which required a single vote.
Only players nominated by their head coach are eligible. Hilo coach Dave Baldwin said he nominated Salzman and Williams as well as senior linebacker Suiwaiter Poch, who was also snubbed.
“Those kids earned better, therefore they deserve better,” Baldwin said.
BIIF football coordinator Kalei Namohala, the Ka‘u athletic director, said the league doesn’t release coaching ballots.
The Hilo pair’s production wasn’t limited to the league. Salzman and Williams displayed their value in Hilo’s 42-27 loss to Campbell in the first round of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association Division I state tournament.
Salzman tied Tanikeni “Isi” Holani, the BIIF Division I Defensive Player of the Year, with a game-high seven tackles. Salzman also had one forced fumble. Williams was credited with four tackles against the Sabers and had a fumble recovery.
Hilo junior running back Tristin Spikes and Waiakea senior running back Devin Preston were voted BIIF Division I Co-Offensive Players of the Year.
For Division II, Hawaii Prep senior running back Bobby Lum was voted the Offensive Player of the Year while Konawaena junior lineman Makoa Chapa was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Poch finished with 28.5 tackles. Hilo’s other two linebackers Sione Holika (17 tackles, two sacks) and Ofa Fahiua (28 tackles, three sacks, four picks) landed on the first team as well as lineman Makana Josue-Maa (30 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions).
Baldwin called Hilo’s defensive front seven — Holani, Josue-Maa, Salzman and Williams at D-line, and Holika, Fahiua and Poch at linebacker — one of the best in the school’s history.
“They’re also one of the best front seven the Big Island has ever seen,” Baldwin said. “Based on performance and stats, they’re the best front seven in the league this year.”
In another surprise, the BIIF Division I Coach of the Year award didn’t go to Hilo’s Baldwin. Instead it went to Keaau interim coach Kalei Young, who took over the last three games when head coach Michael Nonies stepped down.
“Honestly, I could care less,” Baldwin said. “But therein lies more evidence. The system to decide postseason honors, whether it’s coaches or players, may need to be re-evaluated.”
Hilo finished with a 10-2 overall record, losing to Konawaena in the preseason and to Campbell. Keaau went 1-7, beating winless Division II Honokaa.
Baldwin coached the Vikings to their first BIIF championship since 2003. He took over a winless team (0-10) in 2011 and finished with a 5-3 record last year, losing to Kealakehe for the league title.
The snubs extended to other teams as well.
Kealakehe senior Tavita “Tui” Eli made the All-BIIF Division I first team at offensive line last season. He verbally committed to a scholarship offer from Hawaii. He received honorable mention this year.
Waiakea junior cornerback Zac Correa had a league-high five interceptions. He was honorable mention.
On the Division II level, Kona senior linebacker Evyn Yamaguchi had 50.5 tackles, second-best on the team. He got honorable mention, below four other first-team linebackers. Yamaguchi played a valuable role in the Wildcats’ third straight league title.
It’s not the first time the league has had a head-scratching vote.
In 2010 for softball, Waiakea shortstop Sloane Thomas led the league in hitting, homers and RBIs — winning the Triple Crown. Her teammate, ace pitcher Tiffany Anzai, went undefeated and led the league in ERA for the BIIF champion Warriors. Neither made the All-BIIF first team.
Thane Milhoan, from sportzviz.com, has been shooting video and covering most of the football games every weekend, to create recruiting videos for players. He usually produces 35 to 50 recruiting videos, focusing on the league’s top players.
He said the best way to ensure the league’s most outstanding and valuable players are rewarded is to eliminate closed voting by creating a coaching and media voting committee, which would make everything on-the-record.
BIIF executive director Lyle Crozier was in favor of Milhoan’s suggestion.
“I agree. You guys (media) go to a lot of games,” he said. “If someone writes a proposal, I’ll bring it up at the AD’s meeting in January.”
After coaches nominate their players, a list is compiled. All the coaches vote, but can’t vote for their own players. After the votes are tallied to form the first team and honorable mention lists, coaches vote again for the player and coach of the year; they are allowed to vote for their own players.
Milhoan’s main goal is to help Big Island players land scholarships, a reason he started his sportzviz.com website four years ago. Likewise, Baldwin believes postseason recognition is just as helpful as film on players.
“The awards are important to the kids because they use it to springboard to the next level,” Baldwin said.
Milhoan also pointed out that the most outstanding and valuable players would have a better chance to be recognized if All-BIIF Division I and II teams were combined, especially with the departure of the East-West scheduling format.
“Coaches should be required to provide accurate stats to a central agency, like maxpreps.com or scoringlive.com,” Milhoan said. “There should be a media committee with votes, and the responsibility of preparing stat and video presentations as part of the meetings.
“I think coaches should be mandated to participate in the All-BIIF voting process. There should be one All-BIIF team with first and second teams, and honorable mention. This would provide the greatest level of legitimacy and transparency. We owe it to the kids to get this right.”