Pupule’s ballot: Kauai, yes

by Paul Honda on October 3, 2013

Every team's dream: to play in Aloha Stadium at the end of the season. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Every team’s dream: to play in Aloha Stadium at the end of the season. (Paul Honda / Star-Advertiser)

Here’s my ballot, plus pupule meanderings.

1. Punahou (6-0, 4-0 ILH).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Punahou.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Mililani, Kamehameha, ‘Iolani. Also a win at Helix (Calif.).
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: none.
A clear-cut top dawg for another week. But Saint Louis awaits. It wasn’t that long ago (2005, I think) that the top three teams in the ILH took turns beating each other. I’m not saying it’s going to happen, but you never know.

2. Mililani (6-1, 5-0 OIA Red).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Kamehameha.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Kapolei, Waianae, Campbell, Leilehua.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Punahou.
In the poll, Kamehameha and Mililani are separated by seven points. But I look at it this way: Kamehameha lost to Punahou by three touchdowns. Mililani lost by 10 points. I still think a Mililani-Kamehameha game would be great.

3. Kamehameha (6-1, 3-1 ILH).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Mililani.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Farrington, Saint Louis, ‘Iolani.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Punahou.
KS, MIL: Two superb defenses. Both teams love to run the ball. Edge at QB goes to the Trojans, but really, if you didn’t know at all, Fatu Sua-Godinet and McKenzie Milton are more similar than different. Athletic, lean and tough to catch.

4. Saint Louis (5-1, 3-1 ILH).
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Kahuku, ‘Iolani.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Kamehameha.
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Saint Louis.
The Crusader defense was getting better each time I saw them. We’ll see how they do against the Punahou sledgehammer.

5. Lahainaluna.
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Kahuku.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: none.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: none.
It would be easier to just plunk down the names of teams that SHOULD be here or there on my ballot. Of course, Kahuku could beat Lahainaluna. But after struggling early, Kahuku had to improve gradually. The Lunas have been sharp since the season opener and, despite a fairly weak schedule, have earned this spot in my eyes.

6. Kahuku (5-2, 5-0 OIA Red).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Waianae.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: none.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Saint Louis. Also lost to East (Utah).
Of course, I’d love to see Lahainaluna play Kahuku or Waianae at this point of the season. The finest of Lahainaluna’s teams over the past decade or so have been highly competitive at the D-I level, particularly the teams that featured the Casco brothers. And the Lunas won a state quarterfinal game against Mililani in 2004 at War Memorial Stadium. But Kahuku is getting better quick now. Tuli Wily-Matagi’s arm and physicality on the option are weapons that help immensely with RB Soli Afalava on the shelf (shoulder).

7. Waianae (6-2, 4-2 OIA Red).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Campbell.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Farrington, Leilehua.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Mililani, Campbell.
Depending on which Searider team shows up, it can beat anyone in the state or lose to anyone in the Top 10. They actually might be better they year after losing a superstar. Isn’t that a fairly common theme in sports? Anyway, there’s something marvelous about a program that loses a dominant player like Kennedy Tulimasealii, who ruled the trenches for three years, and still plays this good.

8. Kapolei (5-2, 3-2 OIA Red).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Lahainaluna.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Leilehua.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Mililani, Waianae.
It’s a surreal thing, even now, seeing the Top 10 occupied mostly by OIA Red West teams. Kapolei is in the middle of all that with population growth on the West side and the shrinkage of enrollments on the East side. And they keep building more and more stuff in Kapolei.

9. Campbell (5-2, 3-2 OIA Red).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Kapolei.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: Kaiser, Waianae.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: Leilehua, Mililani.
The Sabers are good enough to beat anyone on the list. Once the cannibalistic competition of the Red West is done — the playoffs are around the corner — we’ll get a better sense of how good or not so good the West really is. I mean, Campbell against Kamehameha or Saint Louis? That’s a close game and it would be fair to say that QB Isaac Hurd’s combo skills are more of a headache for defenses than anyone in the ILH.

10. Kauai (5-0, 3-0 KIF).
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Kaiser.
Wins vs. Top 10 teams: none.
Losses vs. Top 10 teams: none.
I’m not arguing against the Cougars, who finally landed in the poll for the first time this season. But my perspective is similar to last year, when Kaiser was in the poll before losing to Nanakuli in the OIA White playoffs. I didn’t penalize Kaiser on my ballot just because they were winning in D-II, and I’m not going to neutralize Kauai for being unbeaten in a tough KIF. (Yes, the KIF is tough and never easy. The league hasn’t expanded in football since the pre-contact era. That’s football in a place that has just three teams and all that talent.)

The Others
Farrington (5-2, 5-0 OIA Red).
Have the Govs finally arrived? We’ll see tonight when they play Kahuku. Rivalry, arch rivalry, whatever. Most times when these two teams meet, it’s a Kahuku win. A Kahuku rout, actually. (See the collection of scores here on Prep World.) If the Govs can pull off a win tonight, it’ll prove that they’ve come further than any other team so far.

Kaiser (6-1, 6-0 OIA White). Of course. That 21-7 loss to Campbell set the direction of the Cougs in this thing that coaches and media vote on. It makes a difference, even just as a nonconference game. Why? There isn’t another D-I opponent on their schedule. It’s not Kaiser’s fault. They wanted to play in D-I this fall. But the trade up to the Red didn’t work out with Kaimuki, and so they are where they are. Kaiser fans shouldn’t sulk, though. The White has some heavy action, as always, with a good chunk of talented teams. Kaiser losing to Campbell, then run-clocking everybody else week after week is like those old BYU teams that would lose to Washington or USC in early season, then pulverizing the WAC on its way to the Holiday Bowl.

‘Iolani (4-4, 2-3 ILH). My estimation is that 98 percent of fans don’t care if the Raiders are in Division I or II. But the squeaky wheel gets the internet grease, and the whining about the Raiders not belonging in D-II is the same as ever. What really would be alluring would be a SuperConference, as I’ve said since the late 1990s, and it’s true I’m not alone in this wonky notion. There’s always been an elite, core group of football programs. Then there are those big schools that annually field strong teams. The SuperConference would be above D-I, really. Then D-I would look more reasonable. Teams like Moanalua, Waipahu, Castle, Kailua … they belong in D-I, just my pupule opinion. They just aren’t super-elite.

Then it would make perfect sense for schools like Kalani, Damien, McKinley, Kaimuki, Lahainaluna — programs that have decent numbers, not a lot of size, lots of tradition — to have that D-II option. And yes, ‘Iolani belongs there, and like all teams, it would and should have the option of moving up to D-II.

Three classifications is nothing novel. The OIA had Red, White and Blue Conferences in the 1980s. Say what you want about the bureaucratic efficiency (or lack thereof) of it all, but three divisions was perfect back then. It would be good now, with that Blue being filled up by Anuenue, Waialua, St. Francis, Honokaa… or these tiny programs could enter 8-man football. But that’s another thing.

Moanalua (3-5, 3-3 OIA Red). They don’t run the ball. Micah Kaneshiro threw the ball 62 times the other week against Farrington. There are some quarterbacks who won’t throw the ball that many times in a whole season. They may not get far in the OIA Red playoffs, but their ability to hit open receivers with relative consistency makes them a hard, hard out. It just takes four or five goofball mistakes by any high school defense to fall behind against these guys big time. In other words, if any of these OIA Red West teams or Kaiser or Lahainaluna slip up, hmm…

Radford (6-1, 5-1 OIA White). Lost to Kaiser. Otherwise, that resume is astonishing. I know people like to bash some of the D-II kingpins like Radford and Kaiser for “running up scores.” But don’t forget, a lot of these teams are not deep at O-line. Or D-line. There’s just not a lot of reserve power. Some of them have humongous dropoffs at key positions. And asking any team to completely change its offensive philosophy as the clock runs and runs through every single play of a blowout … so what if a team ahead by 35 points throws the ball. Incomplete? Clock keeps running. Distasteful? Ahhh, perhaps. But don’t expect any team to hand the ball to a tiny, third-string running back while the losing defense brings 10 guys on a run blitz. But back to the loss to Kaiser. The Rams lost 48-7. At home. That’s hard to let go. A rematch would be fascinating. I don’t think it’ll be a 41-point game next time.

Hilo (6-1, 5-0 BIIF). Yes, the Viks (they’ve spelled the shortened version of Vikings that way since the days of typewriters and newsprint typesetters) have a loss to Konawaena on their ledger. But all these tough, close wins add up to something worth being proud of. I don’t think this is the 1991-92 Robert Medeiros-launching-bombs-to-Casey Newman Viks. But they’re doing good work.

Konawaena (6-1, 5-0 BIIF). Nobody on the Big Island has beaten them. Even HPA, at home, blew a lead and lost to the Wildcats in the final minute on a field goal by John Replogle. (And for you fans who claim Replogle is the best kicker in the state, well, thank you. I just learned he’s made seven field goals. The biggest leg in the state belongs to Kekoa Sasaoka of Farrington, who has just four FGs.) But that loss at Maui still lingers. Maui. Which lost to Baldwin 33-13 and 7-0, and to Lahainaluna 37-7.

Baldwin (4-3, 4-1 MIL). They’ve gotten better. I’m still immersed in the era of Bears football when they’d throw for 400 yards (Jordan Helle to Chad Nakamura) and score 40 points with regularity. But that’s history. A 7-0 win over Maui shouldn’t seem underwhelming. It should say a lot about the Bears’ focus on defense. Right?

Leilehua (4-3, 2-3 OIA Red). Probably the 11th best team in the state. When I saw them early in the season, lining up a safety 25 to 30 yards away, 10-15 yards from his nearest teammate, I was intrigued. Safety valve, indeed. Or was this an extremist gimmick to cover for a lack of speed and size in the secondary? It’s tough to say, but the fact that the Mules leave no stone unturned to maximize strengths and minimize weaknesses — yes, they do miss the Siavii brothers — always catches my interest.

Seabury Hall (4-0, 3-0 MIL 8-man). They are still unbeaten in 8-man football, well into their second sanctioned season in the game. They run flawless (almost), fluid schemes and routes. They have a truly good quarterback. (According to Jordan Helle. Remember him?) In other words, if the Spartans had 10 or 15 more players, they would be very competitive in 11-man MIL football. But this is a small school. I’m not sure enrollment is going up anytime soon. The 8-man game is a godsend for Seabury Hall, Hana, St. Anthony, Molokai, Ka‘u, maybe even Lanai.

This would be my dream lineup of 8-man teams in Hawaii:
Seabury Hall
St. Anthony
Hana
Molokai
Lanai
Ka‘u
Honokaa
Kohala
Pahoa
Anuenue
Waialua
St. Francis
Hanalani
Island Pacific
Lanakila Baptist

The Oahu small schools — Hanalani, Island Pacific, Lanakila Baptist — may or may not have the numbers even for 8-man, but any venture on Oahu would really need their help. Otherwise, Anuenue, Waialua, St. Francis would be on their own. The ILH and OIA do not merge for any sport. Ever. Not on a championship-sanctioned level, anyway.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Joy October 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm

lol… Good thing you don’t vote for college football rankings. You’ll probably put Hawaii at number 10. Paul, every week you come with an weak excuse you make us laugh. Thxs! Channel 2 has the right rankings!!!

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