OIA White Playoffs
The matchup: Pearl City (6-3) vs. Kalani (6-3)
Location/Time: Radford, Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Head-to-head (since 1973): Pearl City leads 15-2
Biggest margin of victory: Pearl City, 53-6, Sept. 2, 2006
Smallest margin of victory: Pearl City, 13-12, Oct. 11, 1986
Pearl City’s offensive leadersUpdated: Nov. 11
Kalani’s offensive leadersUpdated: Oct. 20
It’s already been a season to remember at Kalani, which plays in its first-ever playoff game on Friday night in the OIA White semifinals against Pearl City at Radford.
A second victory over the Chargers would put the Falcons in the Division II state tournament.
Kalani has set records all year long, winning six games for the first time ever. In fact, Kalani has triple as many wins in 2013 as it had from 2000 to 2009, when it was an anemic 2-80.
My how times have changed.
Coach Greg Taguchi, with the help of offensive coordinator Ron Lee and defensive coordinator Cal Lee, has given the faithful Falcons alumni something to cheer for with a team that is not only winning, but playing an exciting brand of football.
Quarterback Noah Brum has blossomed in his second season running the run-and-shoot offense, throwing for 2,618 yards and 36 touchdowns while completing a respectable 54 percent of his passes (171-for-315) considering he averages 35 attempts a game.
Receiver Brandon Roberts is tied with Radford’s Jameson Pasigan for the lead among all players with 13 touchdown receptions. Senior Trevor Yamashita has 47 catches for 903 yards, giving him a good shot to record a rare 1,000-yard receiving season.
Kalani has won six of its last seven games. The streak began with a 40-8 win over the Chargers, but that was in August. Coach Robin Kami has done an amazing job at Pearl City, getting his team to play its best at the right time.
After starting the year with a 42-7 loss to Kapolei and the 32-point loss to the Falcons, the Chargers have won six of seven, culminating in a huge 7-6 win over Radford last Friday. It moved Pearl City into a three-way tie for second, allowing the Chargers to grab the No. 3 seed and play Kalani in the OIA White semifinals instead of No. 1 seed Kaiser.
Why is that so important? The winner on Friday night advances to the Division II state tournament.
The emergence of Reno Abero at running back and the improved play of Jordan Taamu at quarterback have played a big factor in Pearl City’s improvement. The other big key has been a defense that held Kaiser to just 10 points in the first half last month. Radford, which had scored at least 43 points in seven of its first eight games, was held to a season-low six points against the Chargers.
That defense will have to come up big against another high-octane offense. Taamu was held to 82 yards passing and was Pearl City’s leading rusher with just 25 yards in the regular-season meeting between these two teams. Brum threw for only 180 yards but had four touchdowns and completed 71 percent (17-for-24) of his throws. The Kalani defense also scored two touchdowns.
Of all the games this weekend that are rematches, this one might have the best shot at a different outcome. You can argue Pearl City has improved as much as any team over the course of the season, except for maybe Farrington. Kalani has been throwing putting up record numbers all year, but this is something unprecedented for the school.
How will the Falcons handle the nerves? This is a big deal for Kalani and the Falcons know they are only one win away from the state tournament. The Chargers shut down Radford’s passing offense last week, can they do it again this week?
One team is going home. The other will play for an OIA championship.