If Pearl City and Radford remain classified in Division II, look for a real rivalry to develop.
The schools are less than seven miles apart, and the competition has been super close on the football field.
A year ago, the Chargers edged the Rams 7-6 in the regular-season finale at Radford.
On Friday night at the Aiea High School field, Pearl City held on for a 34-26 win. After Jordan Taamu’s touchdown pass and two-point conversion toss to Israel Kaleo with 2:17 left, the Chargers stopped a Radford drive as time ran out.
The win kept Pearl City (5-0, 5-0 OIA D-II) in a first-place tie with Nanakuli, (5-0, 5-0), and it dropped Radford (4-2, 4-1) into third place in the hotly contested conference.
The Chargers travel west to play the Golden Hawks on Friday, the first of three tough games in a row for hard-hitting Nanakuli.
After that, the Golden Hawks take on Radford at Roosevelt’s Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium on Oct. 3 before finishing up with a game against fourth-place Kalani (4-2, 4-2) at the Kaiser High School field on Oct. 11.
It’s a race that promises to go down to the wire, and it sets up what could be intriguing playoff matchups.
After losing to the Chargers in their last two meetings by a total of nine points (the Rams lead the series 13-5-1 since 1973), Radford coach Fred Salanoa would welcome a rematch with Pearl City.
Salanoa said it sunk in right after Friday’s loss that the two teams have a good chance to cross paths “sooner or later,” either in the OIA D-II playoffs or the states.
“We’re probably going to see them again,” added Pearl City coach Robin Kami, whose team finished as the OIA runner-up a year ago before being knocked out of the first round of the states by Kauai on the Garden Isle.
The Rams will be without senior Dylan Frank for the rest of the season. He caught a TD pass against Pearl City before tearing his ACL.
Linebacker Jordan Walker had a game-high eight tackles, including a half-sack with Dominic Albalos and another tackle for loss, for the Rams.
Radford’s “quarterbackfield” of senior Andrew Morgan and junior Quintas Ward played effectively, subbing in for each other on every play. Both threw one TD pass, and they were a combined 17-for-26.
Taamu, who is being recruited by UNLV, showed his smooth scrambling and passing ability. Aside from the tying 13-yard TD and 2-point conversion to Kaleo, he threw a 56-yard TD bomb to running back Dominic Maneafaiga.
Taamu completed 20 of 31 passes for 241 yards, with two TDs and no interceptions. He also gained 38 yards rushing.
“Jordan had a great game,” Kami said. “He made the right reads and he knew when it was time to scramble.”
Maneafaiga gained 155 yards from scrimmage, including 95 on the ground.
Pearl City defensive end Kyler Mano and defensive tackle Jackson Fuamatu broke through for sacks. Fuamatu’s sack was on Radford’s last-gasp possession.
Chargers strong safety Joseph Komomua made the biggest defensive play of the night, an interception of Ward on the Rams’ second-to-last possession. It was the game’s only turnover.
“It was a good game with two good teams and it came right down to the end,” Salanoa said. “It’s too bad we were on that (losing) side of the stick.”
And if they meet again, there’s a good chance it will be another good show to add some fuel to what looks like a budding rivalry.