Kaiser will be in a position it has not been in when it travels to Maui to take on Lahainaluna on Saturday.
The Cougars, who have blown out every Division II team they have encountered this season, will be an underdog.
Kaiser has trailed Lahainaluna in the Star-Advertiser’s poll from the beginning of the season, closing to within one spot a month ago when Kaiser joined Lahainaluna in the rankings. The Cougars go into Maui 29 points behind the Lunas, the closest they have been to the class of the MIL is 13 points two weeks ago.
The order of the top 10 teams in the poll has not changed from the previous week, the first time all season that has happened.
Of the 20 voters in the poll, 15 of them have Lahainaluna ranked ahead of Kaiser, including every single coach who voted. The Star-Advertiser’s Billy Hull and Curtis Murayama are two of the brave quintet who believe that Kaiser has the better team, but both of them have the Cougars one spot ahead of the Lunas. The Star-Advertiser’s other voter, Paul Honda, has had the Lunas way better than the Cougars through most of the season.
But what do the polls know? The voters had a good handle on some programs, like Punahou and Farrington, but whiffed on Kahuku and Leilehua and didn’t see Campbell coming out of the wild West after ranking the Sabers in the top 10 in the 2012 preseason poll. Here is the preseason poll, along with each school’s current ranking:
Star-Advertiser 2013 preseason poll
1. Kahuku (currently No. 8, season over)
If any team could expect to lost the offensive and defensive players of the year (as well as all four first-team defensive backs) and expect to contend, it is Kahuku. Unfortunately for the Raiders, they were not up to the task and will miss the state tournament for the first time since being declared ineligible in 2010.
2. Punahou (Currently No. 1, plays Farrington on Friday)
Right on track, but it is less about the Larry Tuileta-Kanawai Noa connection than its defense and running game.
3. Saint Louis (Currently No. 6, season over)
The Crusaders slipped one spot and are now stuck in third place in its league.
4. Farrington (Currently No. 4, plays Punahou on Friday)
The Governors were awful in the preseason but figured it out to make pollsters look prescient. This really could be the year the Govs win it all.
5. Kamehameha (Currently No. 3, season over)
People knew that Doug Cosbie was going to succeed at Kapalama, but few expected him to do so well so early.
6. Mililani (Currently No. 2, plays Campbell on Friday)
Talk about a team that exceeded expectations. From the first snap to the last, they were the class of the OIA.
7. Leilehua (Unranked, season over)
Voters thought the West would come down to the Mules and the Trojans. Not even close. Maybe on name recognition, but that’s about it.
8. ‘Iolani (Unranked, plays Kauai on Saturday)
The six-time defending state champs slid as the season went along despite remaining the team to beat in the ILH’s lesser division.
9. Waianae (Currently No. 10, season over)
The team that could beat anyone and lose to anyone rose high up the polls early, but dropped when it mattered.
10. Lahainaluna (Currently No. 7, plays Kaiser on Saturday)
The Lunas have been the class of Division II all season, but now it is time to put that opinion to the test on grass rather than paper.