The most unusual season in Hawaii prep football got even more interesting with Kahuku and Kamehameha set to square off in an exhibition game on Oct. 9 at Skippa Diaz Stadium.
Kahuku coach Sterling Carvalho confirmed the matchup.
“We’re just happy to be playing,” Carvalho said.
“This is big for us,” Kahuku linebacker Liona Lefau added. “We’re excited and ready to play under the lights! We have a solid team this year with a tight bond, so it’s going to be fun.”
OIA powerhouse Kahuku has not played a game since the fall of 2019. The OIA football season was postponed, then later cancelled in the 2020-21 year. This fall, the DOE halted fall sports as COVID-19 numbers exploded in the islands. With the vaccination requirement in play for all public high school student-athletes, football teams are preparing for the regular season, which begins on Oct. 15 in Open Division and Division II. OIA D-I league games will begin on Oct. 22.
At Kahuku, practices have shifted to the other side of the fence. Carleton Weimer Field is under renovation, so the Red Raiders work out on the grass at Kahuku District Park. Kamehameha’s Kunuiakea Stadium is also being renovated.
Coach Carvalho doesn’t have a clear number of players on his varsity roster yet.
“We are finalizing this week. Checking on (medical and religious) exemptions,” he said.
Kamehameha is currently 1-1 and coming off an upset win over Saint Louis. That thrust the Warriors into a share of the No. 1 ranking with the Crusaders in this week’s Star-Advertiser Football Top 10.
In addition to Kahuku-Kamehameha, Damien and Moanalua have an exhibition game slated for Oct. 15. Moanalua had a gap that weekend after the OIA recently moved its D-I games for Oct. 15 back to the end of the regular season.
“Coach Vinnie (Nihipali of Moanalua) agreed to a game,” Damien coach Anthony Tuitele said.
With the support of its administration, Moanalua was one of the first schools that returned to training in the offseason.
“We’re feeling great. It’s a long time coming,” Nihipali said. “We look forward to seeing these kids in live action after that long pause.”
Moanalua begins its regular season on Oct. 22.
“It’s getting (Moanalua) prepared for the season. At the end, the (crossover) games don’t count. This is the only way we’re going to learn. We’re using the game to get extra reps and get more film for our kids,” Tuitele said.
OIA D-I has just six teams this season with a single round robin of five games. In each classification, the OIA playoffs are limited to a championship game. OIA D-I teams have two bye weekends to play with, which opens the possibilities of exhibition games.
“That was the plan all along, for the OIA to have crossover games,” ‘Iolani coach and ILH football coordinator Wendell Look said. “It’s up to each individual school to schedule games. It’s kind of the reverse of preseason for us, and it’s preseason for the OIA.”
‘Iolani has not set up an exhibition game yet.
“We’re trying to schedule games, trying to fit it into our schedule and their schedules,” Look said.
OIA football bye weeks
Campbell – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 22-23
Farrington – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 5-6
Kahuku – Nov. 19-20
Leilehua – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 15-16
Mililani – Oct. 8-9, Oct. 29-30
Waianae – Oct. 8-9, Nov. 26-27
Aiea – Oct. 15-16, Nov. 5-6, Nov. 19-20
Castle – Oct. 15-16, Nov. 5-6
Kailua – Oct. 15-16, Oct. 29-30, Nov. 19-20
Moanalua – Nov. 19-20
Roosevelt – Oct. 15-16, Nov. 12-13, Nov. 19-20
Waipahu – Oct. 15-16, Oct. 29-30, Nov. 12-13
Kaimuki – Nov. 5-6
Kaiser – Nov. 26-27
Kalaheo – Dec. 10-11
Kalani – Nov. 19-20
McKinley – Oct. 22-23
Nanakuli – Oct. 15-16
Pearl City – Oct. 29-30
Radford – Dec. 3-4
Waialua – Nov. 5-6
>> OIA D-I regular season ends Dec. 4
>> ILH Open playoffs Oct. 22, Oct. 29
>> HHSAA state tournament, Dec. 31-Jan. 1, Jan. 7-8