OIA Playoff Preview: Waipahu vs. McKinley

Gerime Bradley and McKinley face Waipahu in the OIA Red playoffs. (Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser)
Gerime Bradley and McKinley face Waipahu in the OIA Red playoffs. (Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser)

OIA Red Playoffs

The matchup: McKinley (4-4, 3-3 OIA Red East) vs. Waipahu (2-6, 1-5 OIA Red West)
Location/Time: Roosevelt, 6 p.m., Friday
Head-to-head (since 1973): Waipahu leads 14-6
Biggest margin of victory: McKinley, 59-7, Oct. 3, 1998
Smallest margin of victory: Waipahu, 7-6, Aug. 29, 1986

McKinley’s offensive leaders

Updated: Oct. 20
Denzel Kalahiki-Gasper737-84-24341
Mathias Tuitele-Iafeta925-49-43626
Chevas Pacheco419-56-32592
Gerime Bradley9804276
Mathias Tuitele-Iafeta96735710
Denzel Kalahiki-Gasper741921
Malik Kuhia8222511
Tyrell Tuiasosopo5163484

Waipahu’s offensive leaders

Updated: Oct. 12
Kai Mercado-Aiona842-114-144221
Gavin Marques816-52-42354
Kai Mercado-Aiona81305857
Jacob Anae6663452
Matthew Leilua5462261
Gavin Marques8391961
Sword De Asis8161431
Matthew Leilua510820
Tama Iosefa591592

The OIA Red playoffs start Friday with McKinley, the No. 3 seed out of the East, facing Waipahu, the West’s No. 6 seed.

The Tigers were shut out, 35-0, in the opening round last year against Campbell. It was their first OIA Red playoff game since 2006.

The Marauders, like McKinley, made the jump from the OIA White to the OIA Red in 2012. They also lost in the first round of the playoffs, but in a much closer game, 31-20 at Moanalua.

Receiver Tama Iosefa has eight catches for 147 yards and two TDs for Waipahu. (Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser)
Receiver Tama Iosefa has eight catches for 147 yards and two TDs for Waipahu. (Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser)

Waipahu replaced nearly all of its offensive skill players from last year, with Kai Mercado-Aiona the one big returnee. Mercado-Aiona has led Waipahu in both passing and rushing in each of the last four games and is averaging 89.8 yards on the ground during that span. Waipahu has struggled moving the ball through the air, with Tama Iosefa being the only legit threat at receiver.

McKinley split its six OIA games and earned the tiebreaker over Moanalua with an impressive 28-21 win in its league opener back in August. It’s still figuring out the quarterback position with three different players leading the team in passing over the last four games. Seniors Gerime Bradley and Mathias Tuitele-Iafeta have carried the run game with Bradley (60 carries, 371 yards, 6 TD) finished third in the league in rushing and Tuitele-Iafeta (47 carries, 277 yards, 8 TD) fifth.

Waipahu has owned this series, winning 14 of the 20 matchups since 1973. However, if you take away the eight meetings played at the Marauders’ field, McKinley is a much more respectable 5-7. McKinley has allowed more than 25 points in a game once all year, letting up 44 against Farrington. Waipahu ended its season giving up 66 points to Leilhua last Friday and has given up at least 35 points in a game five times, losing by scores of 59-8 to Westlake (Calif.), 39-12 to Mililani and 39-0 to Waianae.

The West is clearly the better division in the OIA this season and should win most of the matchups against its East foes. This might be the best chance for the East to pull out a win. The Tigers are coming off a convincing 21-point win over Kailua while Waipahu got flattened by the Mules.

Stopping the run game will be critical for the Marauders. If Bradley and Tuitele-Iafeta, who also threw a touchdown pass against Kailua, get it going early, it could be a long night for coach Eric Keola‘s team.


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