Kaiser coach Rich Miano took one very valuable piece of information out of his team’s 41-21 win over Pearl City in the OIA White championship game.
“This was the first game, I think, where going into the fourth quarter it was close and we did a nice job of responding to the adversity,” Miano said. “It’s not going to be any easier moving forward, but at the same time, I’m glad we got this one under our belt.”
The Cougars were not tested this way in the regular season, beating every opponent by at least 15 points and scaring two others into forfeiting. Pearl City pushed Kaiser twice this season, but still lost by 25 and 20 points. The Chargers tied the Cougars midway through the third quarter at Aloha Stadium.
So Kaiser knows what it is capable of, but can it drive down the field when it needs a score late in a game? High school athletes are an unpredictable lot, so there is no telling how the Cougars might react when the game is on the line.
As good as Kaiser is, it might find out what it is made of on Saturday at home against Konawaena in its first-ever state tournament game.
Since 2008, only one Division II first-round game has been decided by more than 10 points, when Lahainaluna beat Konawaena 23-6 in 2011. Every other game has not been decided until the clock ran out and the losing team has had the ball with a chance to win. There has not been a true blowout since Kauai beat Roosevelt 40-9 in 2007.
A lot was made about Kaiser being snubbed with the fourth seed behind KIF champion Kauai, but that hasn’t mattered much in the first round. Seeded teams are 8-8 in the first round since 2005 and both seeded teams have lost three times. Playing at home is not much of an advantage, either, with a slim 10-8 advantage since the tournament to determine Hawaii’s lightweight champion was instituted in 2003. If Kaiser could have rose into a top-two seed, now that would have been an advantage. The team with the bye is 17-3 in the tournament.
State Division II first-round games
2012: Radford def. Kauai 22-21
2012: Nanakuli def. Konawaena 25-23
2011: Kapaa def. Pearl City 7-0
2011: Lahainaluna def. Konawaena 23-6
2010: Kauai def. Kalaheo 17-13
2010: Kaimuki defeated Kamehameha-Hawaii 14-9
2009: Aiea def. Lahainaluna 20-12
2009: Hawaii Prep def. Moanalua 17-14
2008: Campbell def. Konawaena 25-15
2008: Radford def. Kauai 17-7
2007: Kaimuki def. Kamehameha-Maui 22-0
2007: Kauai def. Roosevelt 40-9
2006: ‘Iolani def. Kaimuki 41-40
2006: Waipahu def. Kamehameha-Hawaii 27-12
2005: Moanalua def. Kamehameha-Hawaii 34-20
2004: Hawaii Prep def. Waipahu 41-16
2004: Kauai def. Pac-Three 49-7
2003: Damien def. Kapolei 20-14
2003: Lahainaluna def. Hawaii Prep 21-14