That Kahuku football schedule is getting better by the day.
The Red Raiders will battle Punahou on Nov. 20, in addition to an Oct. 9 matchup with Kamehameha. The date, according to Punahou coach Nate Kia, is “reserved.”
Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho does not have any remaining bye weekends for his team, but the alternative of fewer games is not on his wish list.
“Hopefully, everyone stays healthy and the game can happen,” Carvalho said.
After nearly two years without an official high school game, players are quite hungry.
“Oh, let’s go. That’s big time! I love it,” Kahuku linebacker Liona Lefau said. “We’re excited and will be ready by the time it comes. We’re hyped up about this year.”
This gives Kahuku, the 2019 OIA Open Division champion, a total of seven games. Though the crossover games with ILH teams Punahou and Kamehameha will not count toward the OIA standings, it is no surprise that one of the premier football programs in the state is revved up for action.
The last time the teams met on Oct. 5, 2019, freshman John-Keawe Sagapolutele passed for 271 yards and two touchdowns as Punahou outlasted Kahuku, 21-13, at Aloha Stadium.
The game on Oct. 9 between Kahuku and Kamehameha will likely be similar to a controlled scrimmage with first-string players of Kahuku and Kamehameha playing in the first half. Reserve players will line up in the second stanza. The game will be played at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
By Nov. 20, Punahou will have been three weeks or more removed from regular-season play. If the Buffanblu win the ILH title, this would be their only game action until the HHSAA state tournament in late December, a gap of two months.
If Punahou doesn’t win the ILH crown, the Kahuku matchup might feel more like a bowl game and final hurrah for outgoing seniors. With just five or six games in ILH play instead of the typical season — Punahou played 12 games in 2019 — landing Kahuku is a gem.
“We didn’t want to plan anything during the ILH season. That’s priority No. 1 for us, determining our league champion,” Buffanblu coach Nate Kia said. “Sterling and I discussed independently setting up a game as a contingency long before the original interleague schedule was cancelled.”
The possibility of rescheduled games, which has been the necessity and norm in the ILH schedule due to COVID-19, scheduling the Punahou-Kahuku game after ILH play was fitting.
Saint Louis has not scheduled any exhibition matchups yet.
OIA Open Division and D-I football teams have just five regular-season games scheduled. OIA D-II, comprised of nine teams, has eight games slated. The playoff brackets have been reduced to a single game between No. 1 and No. 2 for the league titles.
Roster numbers are a key factor in the next few weeks as coaches decipher the results of medical and religious exemption requests by student-athletes regarding COVID-19 vaccination. There is a possibility of more scrimmages or games next week for OIA teams, as Kahuku has shown.
Mililani, the 2018 OIA Open Division champion, is not planning any scrimmages or interleague exhibition games, according to coach Rod York.
Punahou and Kamehameha meet tonight at Aloha Stadium in another key ILH Open matchup.
Here’s a look at each team’s bye weekends.
Campbell – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 22-23
Farrington – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 5-6
Kahuku – none. At Kamehameha, Oct. 9. At Punahou, Nov. 20.
Leilehua – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16
Mililani – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 29-30
Waianae – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 26-27
Aiea – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16, Nov. 5-6, Nov. 19-20
Castle – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16, Nov. 5-6
Kailua – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 29-30, Nov. 19-20
Moanalua – Oct. 8-9. Vs. Damien, Oct. 15. Nov. 19-20.
Roosevelt – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16. Nov. 12-13, Nov. 19-20
Waipahu – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16, Oct. 29-30, Nov. 12-13.
Kaimuki – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 5-6.
Kaiser – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 26-27.
Kalaheo – Oct. 8-9, Dec. 10-11.
Kalani – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 19-20.
McKinley – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 22-23.
Nanakuli – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16.
Pearl City – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 29-30.
Radford – Oct. 8-9, Dec. 3-4.
Waialua – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 5-6.