These are your daddy’s preseason games.
So often high school coaches approach preseason games the same way NFL coaches do, getting their starters in for a series or two and settling back to watch everyone else get a chance after that. But in the first week of 2013, it seemed everyone was going for the throat. Sure, Mililani used both its quarterbacks when coach Rod York has pledged that he will choose one to be the starter when games start counting, but most of the other schools kept their full units in until victory or defeat was assured. Pac-Five quarterback Anthony Canencia threw the ball 63 times against Radford. The Wolfpack were certainly trying to win, and they weren’t alone.
Players and coaches seem to hold pride up as an important thing, judging by the way they conducted their business last week. But this week it is about more than pride. It’s about league. It may not mean much to kids who were not even thought of when the leagues split in 1970, but it means something to the elders who were there for it. Public vs. Private, it still matters a great deal to some fans.
There are six games between the conferences this weekend, beginning with Punahou visiting Mililani on Thursday. Castle vs. Damien, Aiea vs. Pac-Five and Farrington at Kamehameha play on Thursday, and the conference rivalry week wraps up with Leilehua visiting ‘Iolani on Saturday afternoon and Saint Louis and Kahuku clashing at the stadium that night.
The ILH holds a slim 2-1 edge over the OIA in head-to-head meetings after the first week of preseason. But now it gets real.
Look at those matchups, they are all close. The ILH could sweep them. The OIA could sweep them. Or, more likely, they will split.
Oahu’s public schools went 4-4 against the private schools in the preseason last year, the first time the ILH failed to win the battle since the OIA went 3-2 against the ILH way back in 2003. Just the fact that it was close might have been a victory for the OIA, because it hasn’t been close in a long time.
Saint Louis and Punahou drove the ILH’s dominance in preseason games, with the Crusaders beating OIA teams 14 straight times from 2005 to 2010 and the Buffanblu winning eight in a row from 2005 to 2008. Kamehameha went 12 games against the OIA without losing from 2005 to 2010, but played Castle to a draw in 2007. The following chart shows preseason wins by each conference against the other in preseason games in the state championship era: