After a wild weekend in OIA football, the playoff seeding is beginning to take shape with two weeks left in the regular season.
Here’s a breakdown of each division.
Teams in: Leilehua, Kahuku, Waianae, Kaiser
Teams on bubble: Castle, McKinley, Waipahu
Key games: Leilehua at Kahuku (Sept. 26), McKinley at Castle (Oct. 3), Kaiser at Leilehua (Oct. 4), Waianae vs. Kahuku at Aloha Stadium (Oct. 4).
The race for the top spot in the OIA Red took a huge turn on Friday when Kaiser upset Kahuku with a stunning rally in the final seconds.
Leilehua (5-0) currently is in first place all by itself but has to close with marquee games at Kahuku (4-1) on Friday and at home against Kaiser to finish the regular season. The Mules would lock up the No. 1 seed in the Red with a win. Kahuku can claim the No. 1 seed if it wins out against Leilehua and Waianae.
The Cougars had to forfeit their season-opening win over Aiea, which looks like will really make a difference for playoff seeding. Instead of a second-place tie with Kahuku, which it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over, Kaiser is tied for third with Waianae, which handed the Cougars their only on-the-field loss back in August. Kaiser’s only road to a playoff bye now is to win out and hope either Leilehua beats Kahuku or the Red Raiders win out, which would put the Mules into a second-place tie with Kaiser.
Waipahu earned a big win over McKinley on Saturday with receiver Jordan Taylor catching four touchdown passes from quarterback Blaise DeAsis. A Castle upset of Kaiser this weekend would put both the Knights and the Marauders into the playoffs, otherwise it comes down to Castle against McKinley the following week. The Tigers can force a three-way coin flip for the final two berths if they beat Castle and Waipahu loses to Waianae on Friday.
Teams in: Mililani, Farrington, Campbell, Moanalua, Aiea, Kapolei
Team out: Kailua
Key games: Farrington at Mililani (Sept. 27), Farrington vs. Campbell at Aloha Stadium (Oct. 4), Kapolei at Aiea (Oct. 4).
Just like Leilehua in the Red, it’s time to see what Farrington’s got over these final two weeks. The Govs have to play the two other top teams in the division in Mililani and Campbell. A Trojans win on Saturday wraps up the division and the No. 1 seed. The regular-season finale between the Govs and the Sabers at Aloha Stadium will decide which team gets a first-round bye and hosts a quarterfinal game.
Don’t sleep on the meaning of Kapolei’s game at Aiea on Oct. 4. The winner of that game could still be in line to host a first-round game and avoid going on the road at likely either Kaiser or Waianae with the season on the line.
Campbell can finish no worse than third and clinch a home playoff game with a win at Aiea on Saturday.
OIA Division II
Teams in: Nanakuli, Pearl City
Teams out: Roosevelt, Anuenue
Key games: Pearl City at Nanakuli (Sept. 26), Radford vs. Nanakuli at Aiea (Oct. 3), Kalani at Pearl City (Oct. 3)
Only two teams are technically eliminated from the playoffs but the likelihood of Nanakuli, Pearl City, Radford and Kalani as the four playoff teams are pretty good after the Falcons beat the Bulldogs for the first time in 17 years on Saturday.
The Chargers and Golden Hawks will play for sole possession of first place on Friday. The Chargers have already beat Radford so a win over Nanakuli would just about lock up the top spot.
Kalaheo and Waialua are still alive at 2-3 and the Mustangs own a big win over the Falcons, but Kalaheo suffered a bad loss to Roosevelt last weekend and closes with Radford, Kaimuki and Pearl City in its final three games. The Bulldogs would likely need to win out since they were shut out by the Falcons 32-0 in the conference opener.
Kaimuki closes with Waialua, Roosevelt and Kalaheo and could get to 4-4, but the loss to the Falcons was devastating. Kalani can finish no worse than 4-4 and the Bulldogs would need a third team to finish at .500 to avoid losing a head-to-head tiebreaker. That means either Waialua would have to beat both Anuenue and Radford or Kalaheo would have to beat Radford and Pearl City.
The first round of the OIA Division I playoffs starts Oct. 10 and 11 while the OIA D-II playoffs get underway Oct. 17/18.