Preview: Friday’s football matchups

Quarterback Isaac Hurd and No. 8 Campbell face No. 6 Leilehua on Friday, Aug. 23. (Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser)
Quarterback Isaac Hurd and No. 8 Campbell face No. 6 Leilehua on Friday, Aug. 23. (Cindy Ellen Russell / Star-Advertiser)

[Note: This is the extended version of the story that ran in Friday’s Star-Advertiser]

Preseason, nonleague, interleague, nonconference … those games jumped into coaches’ plans early enough.

This week, the OIA Red and MIL follow the OIA White with regular-season battles. Some teams will welcome the return of players who have been on academic probation. The usual course — there will likely be at least one OIA team that reverses course and peaks late in the season — is probably underway.

But first things first. Here’s a look at Friday’s matchups.

Friday, Aug. 23 games

Kaimuki (1-1) at No. 3 Kahuku (0-1) — For the gritty Bulldogs, the good news thus far is a combined 298 passing yards, three touchdown passes and zero interceptions by Tevita Lino and Kainalu Spencer. Randon Tuitama has bolted for 243 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and Fano Tuisila (eight receptions, 164 yards, two touchdowns) is a capable route runner.

But this is Kahuku, which doesn’t lose many OIA openers. The two-time defending champion Red Raiders are coming off a 45-24 loss to Saint Louis. Size and depth are on Big Red’s side, and slowing that lethal option attack will require all of Kaimuki’s technique and discipline. So will every attempt to tackle quarterback Tuli Wily-Matagi (6 feet 3, 223 pounds), and running backs Soli Afalava (6-2, 201), P.J. Liua (5-9, 219) and Salanoa-Alo Wily (6-0, 243).

No. 8 Campbell (2-0) at No. 6 Leilehua (1-0) — OIA Red West play kicks off with a big defensive challenge for the Mules. There may not be a more lethal dual threat than Campbell quarterback Isaac Hurd, who has already accounted for 414 yards from scrimmage, including 301 yards, five touchdowns and no picks through the air. The Sabers have found a reliable ballcarrier in Austin May (164 yards, three touchdowns) after losing Triston Pebria in the offseason.

Kainoa Perry (5-11, 170) has emerged as an major target for Hurd with eight grabs for 118 yards and three touchdowns.

But the Sabers haven’t met a machine quite like Leilehua yet this season. The Mules were highly efficient in a 56-35 win at ‘Iolani last weekend. Mack Eberhardt was steady (13-for-19, 143 passing yards) while Ikaika Piceno was explosive out of the backfield with 125 yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries.

Eberhardt and reserve Kalanimoku Pauole spread the wealth around to sure-handed receivers Tristin Kamaka, Dustin Ancheta-Maeda, Toma Savea and Justin Jenks. That could spell another entertaining night for fans. Last year’s game was a wild 35-34 win for Campbell.

No. 7 Mililani (1-1) at Kapolei (2-0) — The Trojans enter conference play coming off a 24-14 loss to Punahou. Coach Rod York said the alternating quarterbacks situation has changed. McKenzie Milton will get the start against Kapolei.

Vavae Malepeai, a slippery sophomore, was a breakout star in the first two games with 213 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He suffered an injury against the Buffanblu, but will start this week, York said.

The Trojans have relied heavily on slotback Bronsen Ader (14 receptions, 115 yards), but one of last year’s top targets, speedy Kainoa Wilson, has been limited to six grabs.

The Trojans are often at their best when linebacker Dayton Furuta lines up at running back, but Kapolei’s defense, spearheaded by Micah Paris, will be waiting. So will a no-huddle Hurricanes offense featuring Pebria, who has raced for 224 yards and four touchdowns in wins over Pearl City and McKinley.

Kailua (0-2) at Castle (1-1) — The Surfriders have struggled so far, but may be looking forward to this matchup with their neighbors. Kailua won last year’s game 24-6 with an offense that was predominantly ground-and-pound; 38 of 55 plays were runs.

Sophomore quarterback Noah Auld has not thrown a pick in two games.

Castle limited Kamehameha to one offensive touchdown in a downpour two weeks ago, then topped Damien 27-13 over the weekend. The Knights remain a pass-first team; quarterback Stephen Lee is learning on the job. He has thrown 50 passes (23 completions) for 201 yards, two touchdowns and four picks.

Moanalua (0-2) vs. McKinley (1-1), Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium — Scott Pagano is at Clemson and life must go on for Na Menehune. Coach Arnold Martinez wasted little time testing his team, lining up rock-solid defensive squads (Mililani, Waianae) out of the chute. Moanalua’s passing attack is intact. Micah Kaneshiro has twirled 89 pass attempts already for 422 yards and two touchdowns.

The downside is five interceptions and a ground game that has yet to develop. Donald Lambert (14 receptions), Chad Aragon (13) and Jason Sharsh (eight) are enjoying the attention from Kaneshiro, who threw for 229 yards, five touchdowns and four picks against the Tigers last year.

The Tigers are deeper and bigger this year, and have two-way playmakers like Gerime Bradley and bulldozing linebacker Mathias Tuitele-Iafeta (5-11, 235). But they still miss the services of fleet-footed Tyrell Tuiasosopo (6-2, 180), who will remain out with a foot injury until early September.

Radford (2-0, 1-0 OIA White) at Nanakuli (1-1, 1-0) — The historians may have to dig deep to find a Rams team that has scored 114 points in its first two games. Coach Fred Salanoa runs a tight ship, which means protege Cody Lui-Yuen is always challenged to reach higher. The 6-4, 210-pound southpaw has passed for 534 yards, eight touchdowns and just one pick in 45 attempts.

Radford has also used a committee of Tobias Powell, Chance Cacatian and Rashone Osborne in the backfield. The three have 323 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. But the biggest find has been 6-3, 190-pound junior Absolom Henry. The former JV receiver worked hard in the offseason with Lui-Yuen.

The result: seven catches, 203 yards and three touchdowns. With Henry and Jameson Pasigan (seven grabs, 122 yards, four touchdowns) wreaking havoc on defensive backs, Powell — a transfer from Maryknoll who didn’t play varsity football until this season — has also become a threat out of the backfield (four receptions, 96 yards, one touchdown).

The Golden Hawks are finding their way after losing several key defensive players to graduation. After taking a 56-12 loss at Kapaa, they opened OIA White play with a 22-19 win at Waialua. Chazz Troutman opened the season at running back, a change from his quarterback position a year ago, while continuing to start at safety.

Roosevelt (0-2, 0-1 OIA White) at Waialua (0-2, 0-1) — After forfeiting against McKinley, the Rough Riders started OIA White play with a 15-0 loss to Kalaheo. Waialua struggled with numbers early on, but the varsity is faring much better now that the JV squad has folded. Roosevelt won this matchup last season, 9-7.

Pearl City (0-1, 0-0 OIA White) vs. Kalani (0-2, 0-1), Kaiser Stadium — When these teams met late last fall, the Chargers were one of the hottest teams in the state, outscoring the Falcons 40-30 for their fifth win in a row. Now, Pearl City is rebuilding with new starters at several positions on offense and defense.

The Falcons are airing it out again. Noah Brum has passed for 490 yards, five touchdowns and four picks in 93 attempts. Enrique Gruver leads a busy receiver corps with 16 grabs for 155 yards and three touchdowns.

Westlake (Calif.) (0-0) at Waipahu (1-0) — The visiting Warriors from Westlake Village chose to travel nearly 3,000 miles for their season opener. They play in the Marmonte League of the CIF, where they went 3-1 last year (6-5 overall) and finished second. Neil Uskali, second in the league in passing yardage, has graduated, but Tommy Gonzales returns for his senior year at quarterback.

Alex Egurbide, a 6-5, 195-pound senior, led the league in receiving yardage (661 yards). Another key target, Cole Hair (6-0, 170) was third in the league with 541 receiving yards.
Linebacker Hunter Mattox, now 6-4 and 255 pounds, was fifth in the Marmonte League with six sacks. Defensive back Jesse Cuccia (6-1, 165) led the league as a sophomore with four interceptions.

The Marauders are coming off a 19-14 nonconference win over Kaimuki. It was a model of rushing imposition by their option attack. Sophomore Matthew Leilua (5-8, 205) rushed for 124 yards and sophomore quarterback Gavin Marques (5-10, 162) tallied 103 yards.

Maui (2-0) vs. Baldwin (0-1), War Memorial Stadium — Two weeks have passed since Baldwin, the perennial Division I powerhouse in the MIL, absorbed a 55-0 loss against Saint Louis. The Bears surrendered 503 total yards that night.

The Sabers may have reason to be more optimistic than they’ve been in years. They followed a 51-0 victory over St. Francis with a 47-37 comeback win over defending BIIF D-II champion Konawaena. Maui trailed 24-7 at halftime against Konawaena.

The series between the two historic rivals — Maui was dominant under then-coach Curtis Lee in the 1990s — has been one-sided for some time now with 24 straight Baldwin wins going back to Nov. 4, 2000, according to Robert Collias of the Maui News.

  • 2012: Baldwin 25, Maui 5 (Sept. 1); Baldwin 49, Maui 17 (Oct. 5). The Bears lost to Mililani 24-13 in the quarterfinals of the state tourney at War Memorial.
  • 2011: Baldwin 42, Maui 6 (Sept. 23); Baldwin 30, Maui 0 (Oct. 22). Baldwin upset Farrington 28-24 at War Memorial before losing to Punahou 35-0 in the state semifinals.
  • 2010: Baldwin 52, Maui 0 (Sept. 24); Baldwin 47, Maui 0 (Oct. 23). Leilehua ousted Baldwin 35-26 at War Memorial in the state quarterfinals.
  • 2009: Baldwin 41, Maui 6 (Sept. 25); Baldwin 20, Maui 0 (Oct. 16). The Mules rout Baldwin 48-12 in another state quarterfinal.
  • 2008: Baldwin 37, Maui 12 (Sept. 12); Baldwin 40, Maui 14 (Oct. 31). Leilehua over Baldwin 34-15 in, yes, the state quarterfinal round.
  • 2007: Baldwin 36, Maui 7 (Sept. 15); Baldwin 20, Maui 0 (Oct. 27). The Bears stun Farrington 26-14 in the opening round of state play, then fall 41-34 to eventual state champ Leilehua in the semis in a clash between Jordan Helle (303 yards) and Andrew Manley (263 yards, three touchdown passes). This ends a Baldwin run of five semifinal appearances in a six-year span.
  • 2006: Baldwin 41, Maui 0 (Aug. 25); Baldwin 42, Maui 2 (Oct. 7). The Bears edge Mililani 22-17 in the state tourney, then lose to eventual state champ Kahuku 22-20 on a miraculous last-second touchdown pass at Aloha Stadium.

Konawaena (0-0) at Hilo (1-0), Wong Stadium — Last week, it was a 30-minute flight to the Valley Isle for the Wildcats, who lost 47-37 to Maui. This week, a two-hour drive to East Hawaii is on the itinerary. Hilo opened BIIF play with a 36-6 win over Waiakea last week.

The Vikings are counting on quarterback Donovan Kelley, a junior who took over when Drew Kell moved to Oregon in the offseason.


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