The 50th season of Nanakuli football got off to a rousing start last week, beating Molokai 37-0.
This week, they visit an old friend who has been there from the start.
The Golden Hawks will visit Waialua for the 12th time on Saturday, hooking up with one of their oldest rivals. It will be the first time the teams have clashed since 2015, the longest gap between games since the mid-2000s.
Nanakuli has already matched its win total from last year, thanks to quarterback Sedric Crawford hooking up with receiver Nainoa Paz four times for their first opening-game win since 2014. That year was also the last time the Golden Hawks started 2-0, winning every game and an OIA title before suffering a state tournament loss to Kamehameha-Hawaii.
Crawford is just the fifth player in 50 years of Nanakuli football to throw for more than 250 yards in a game, joining Nainoa Banks, Kale Kanehailua, Nick Asinsin and Brandon Sevelino. No quarterback in school history has ever done it in back-to-back games. Paz is the first receiver to go over 100 yards since Joey Vea-Quitog in 2016. Henry Po Ching is the last Golden Hawk to do it in successive games, putting four in a row together to close the 1994 season.
Nanakuli dropped back down to Division II this season after going 1-25 the previous three. Its win over Molokai broke a 16-game losing streak and erased the specter of losing a program-most 17 in a row.
Nanakuli has beaten Waialua four times in a row, the last loss coming at Tosh Nakasone Field in 2011.
Officially, Waialua carries an eight-game losing streak into 2019 but that number was 19 before St. Francis forfeited a win over the Bulldogs last season.
The Bulldogs have not won a season opener since 2007 when it took care of Honokaa. Wailua coach Lincoln Barit‘s many fans have a good reason to hope for a successful season by the longtime mentor. For all of the great names who led the program in the past (Norm Chow, Skippa Diaz, Hugh Yoshida, Noel Kawachi), only legendary Toshi Nakasone has won more games for the program. Nakasone won 48 games for the school and Barit is going for his 44th.
A winning season would put him over the man the stadium is named after. Barit’s last winning season came in 2016, but he has won one game since then.
Kaimuki’s long-awaited date with Pac-Five might actually happen this year.
The teams were scheduled to open against each other at Farrington a year ago, but the clash was cancelled by the unrealized threat of Hurricane Lane. They will try it again on Friday.
Pac-Five and Kaimuki have met only three times, with the Wolfpack winning all three. Each of them were decided by two touchdowns or more, capped by the last one when Pac-Five thumped Kaimuki 48-19 being PJ Minaya‘s 374 passing yards and Darin Kamealoha‘s 186 all-purpose yardage.
Kaimuki coach David Tautofi, who is three wins shy of second place on the school’s career wins list, doesn’t mess around when the bell rings on the season. He has won three straight openers and the last two, against Kalani and Waialua at Skippa Diaz Stadium, were by a combined score of 112-0.
The Bulldogs like the stadium on Farrington’s campus, going 8-2 there with a seven-game winning streak and four more games scheduled there this year.
At this stage in its development, McKinley would be a better homecoming opponent for Roosevelt than an opener.
Take away a forfeit in 2013, and Roosevelt has beaten McKinley eight straight times. The last time the Tigers rose up and beat the Rough Riders was 2003 behind Abel Werner‘s brilliance.
Mckinley opened its season with a 30-0 loss to King Kekaulike last week, a step back from the 31-14 victory the Tigers put on Na Alii to open last season. But that was preseason, the real season begins now.
Not so long ago, Roosevelt was in the same boat that McKinley is now but along came Kui Kahooilihala. In his three years as coach, Kahooilihala moved the Rough Riders from two wins in his first year to four and then the big jump to 12 last year. The Rough Riders have won their last two openers and made it all the way to state last year before losing to perennial champion Lahainaluna on three special teams touchdowns.
Roosevelt won the OIA’s Division II title during that journey, its first title since 1957.
A big part of Roosevelt’s rise to the mantle of champions was quarterback Sky Ogata. Ogata returns for one more year and torched McKinley for 205 yards in the air and 97 on the ground in a 39-6 victory. More importantly than Ogata’s performance, McKinley coach Pat Silva doesn’t want to see a repeat of the four turnovers his Tigers gave the Rough Riders that night.
Two years ago, the thought of Kaiser being unbeaten and Pearl City winless seemed impossible, yet here we are.
The Chargers visit the Cougars in Friday with just that scenario possible. Kaiser won its opener 21-7 over Aiea last week while Pearl City fell to Kealakehe 13-7. Two years ago Kaiser went winless under Arnold Martinez and Pearl City went all the way to the state tournament before losing to Lahainaluna.
Last year’s meeting between the two clubs was as narrow as can be with Pearl City winning 15-12 at home. Kaiser led twice in the second half of that game before Pearl City’s Tex Kang scored in the final five minutes.
That was Pearl City’s first win over Kaiser since 2007.
For such a big game for the Hawaii Kai school, maybe it is better to see a Robin Kami-coached Chargers squad early rather than late. Since Kami took over for David Hallums in 2013, the Chargers are 12-6 in the first three games of a season and 5-13 in the final three games of a season, including two 0-3 marks. Even with those strong starts, Kami hasn’t won an opener since 2015. The Chargers haven’t started 0-2 since 2013.
Kaiser hasn’t started 2-0 since 2005 under Pat Samsonas.
The Cougars didn’t have to show much of their offensive package last week, as the defense and special teams did all of the work and the offense didn’t have to score a single point. Tim Seaman used two quarterbacks to dial up 22 pass plays and ran it 27 times. That fits in with Seaman’s old school balance, he ran the ball 260 times last year to 253 passes with sacks counting as rushes.
Kaiser plays six of its first seven games at home, just two seasons after a lost season on the field and at the gate. Defend the home turf, and the Cougars can threaten their first winning season since before Rich Miano became a television star.
They aren’t neighborhood rivals, but Kalani and Kalaheo have put on one of the longest-running uninterrupted shows in the OIA.
The Mustangs and Falcons will hook up at Kaiser on Saturday, the 12th straight year they have gone at each other.
Last year’s game is fresh on the minds of both teams, as it closed disappointing seasons. The Mustangs won 22-7 behind the 1-2 rushing punch of Carl Addy (111 yards) and Jaden Amasiu (102). It was the first time the Mustangs put two players over the century mark in a game since Makena Johnston and Christian Johnston did it in 2012.
Kalaheo didn’t rely so much on the run game in last week’s loss to Kauai, carrying the ball 26 times (including sacks) for overall negative yardage.
Kalaheo is in danger of starting 0-2 for the fourth straight season.
Kalani, on the other hand, has a chance to start out 2-0 for the first time since 2000 when it beat Radford and Kohala.
The Falcons blitzed Kohala in last week’s opener, with Logan Lim throwing for 177 yards and Nathaniel Balangitao churning up 97 yards on the ground to lead the team for the second time in his career. Lim’s passing performance was higher than anything a Kalani quarterback put up all last year.