Pupule ballot: Trojans vault over Buffanblu, but why?

Torrey Pines’ Mac Bingham was stopped by the Punahou defense after a short gain in the first quarter of a game at Aloha Stadium. Photo by Bruce Asato/Star-Advertiser.

Here’s a look at how I voted in this week’s Star-Advertiser Football Top 10. Please mind that all prep polls have the nutritional value of whipped cream. Small doses are fine.

Pupule football ballot
1. Saint Louis
2. Kahuku
3. Punahou
4. Mililani
5. Kamehameha
6. Kailua
7. Hilo
8. Kapaa
9. Lahainaluna
10. Damien

Pupule perspective
Listed are teams according to my ballot, followed by how the are ranked in this week’s Star-Advertiser Top 10 by our panel of coaches and media.

** Indicates Top 10 opponent

1. Saint Louis (2-0, 0-0 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 1.

Wins: @ ** Waianae (49-7), Baldwin (61-0).

Next: vs. No. 5 Kamehameha, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Aloha Stadium

The skinny: This old-school outlook hasn’t changed much over the years. The champ is still the champ until someone beats him. The Crusaders end a long drought this weekend when they take on surging Kamehameha. They haven’t played since Aug. 12. After this weekend, there’s another bye, then it is Punahou (Sept. 16), a nonconference duel with CIF powerhouse Narbonne (Sept. 23), Kamehameha (Sept. 29), and then Punahou again (Oct. 7) to end the first round of ILH play.

2. Kahuku (3-0, 3-0 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 2

Wins: Leilehua (24-0), @ **Waianae (37-0), Moanalua (40-6)

Next: @ Aiea, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Red Raiders have outscored opponents 101-6 and landed in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 at No. 23. Fans would have enjoyed an early-season Kahuku-Saint Louis matchup. The one I remember most between the two programs was in 2010, of course, when a certain first-year starter at quarterback dashed to the end zone untouched from 50 yards out, then never kept the ball again for the rest of the night. Kahuku won that game handily, but Saint Louis and Marcus Mariota went on to win the ILH and state titles in a highly-controversial season for Big Red. But that’s another story/novel. In ’17, there’s no assurance the two teams will meet in the state tournament. After Aiea, Kahuku plays Bingham (Utah) in Las Vegas (Sept. 9).

3. Punahou (2-0, 0-0 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 4

Wins: Moanalua (35-7), **Torrey Pines (23-7)

Next: @ Junipero Serra (Calif.), Saturday, 1 p.m.

The skinny: Torrey Pines, defending champion of the CIF’s Avocado League (San Diego Section), was ranked No. 8 by San Diego Prep Insider before coming to the islands. For all intents and purposes, that was a Top 10 win. The Buffanblu were sturdy with run defense against the run-heavy Falcons. Voters decided to vault Mililani, which routed Castle, ahead of the Buffanblu this week. I’m not sure why; Castle is gritty and tough, but I’d give the edge to Torrey Pines as the tougher opponent. Consistency and common sense aren’t requirements of any prep poll, but still, I beg to differ. More than that, Punahou-Mililani would be a helluva game. MAKE IT SO.

4. Mililani (3-0, 3-0 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 3

Wins: Kaiser (2-0, forfeit), Leilehua (47-0), Castle (49-0).

Next: @ Clayton Valley Charter (Calif.), Friday, 4 p.m.

The skinny: It sure isn’t the Trojans’ fault that they haven’t been tested yet. I wouldn’t necessarily pick Punahou to beat Mililani if they played this week. Just for fun, let’s look at the positional comparisons.

O-Line: Punahou has five returnees. Mililani is stout there, too. Edge: Pick ‘em.

Receivers: Punahou’s crew has a bit of experience, but still replaced four seniors. Mililani has returning starters here. Edge: Slight, to Mililani.

Running backs: Punahou’s thunder-and-lightning duo of Sitiveni Kaufusi and Vincent Terrell has been effective, though not dominant. Kaufusi, at 6-2, 220, is a wrecking ball between the tackles who churns out necessary yardage, but isn’t alway a tackle breaker. Terrell has a nice burst and a lot of north-south tendencies that make him very slippery for slow defenders in the box. Mililani has first-year starter Kilifi Malepeai, plus last year’s 1-2 punch of Jalen Olomua and Darius Muasau. The latter two spend more of their time at LB now, so this isn’t an easy call. Edge: Even.

Quarterback: Stephen Barber vs. Dillon Gabriel. Each likes to utilize the entire field as passers. Each likes to gobble up open real estate. Barber is the bigger of the two, built like a linebacker. Edge: Even.

Defensive line: Mililani’s defense has not allowed a point. Punahou’s D-line might be the best in the ILH. Edge: Even.

Linebackers: The Trojans have a bit more experience here, though it’s hard to rank any of their ‘backers higher than Punahou’s Maninoa Tufono. Edge: Even.

Defensive backs: Punahou has playmakers here, but they don’t gamble a whole lot. Mililani has been steady in the secondary for a long time, but the Buffanblu has narrow advantage thanks to experience. Edge: Slight, Punahou.

Kicking game: Hunter Hosoda has been steady for Punahou. Unlike previous all-galaxy placekickers there, Hosoda is a position player who can kick, rather than vice-versa. Damien Santiago is a returnee with good range. Edge: Even.

Coaching: Punahou has collected an all-star staff for years now. Reggie Torres. Fred Salanoa. Eric Hannum. On and on. But Mililani’s staff is proven, and their year-round dedication through the Mill Vill program has kept the pipeline of talent coming to campus at full throttle even with the OIA’s change in transfer requirements in 2015. Edge: Even.

Overall, Mililani has a slight edge at receiver an Punahou has a slight edge in the secondary, and everything else seems even. Maybe this should have been a tie for No. 3, even though ties are evil.

5. Kamehameha (3-0, 0-0 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 5

Wins: @ **Farrington (34-15), @ **Lahainaluna (34-10), Carson (33-10).

Next: vs. No. 1 Saint Louis, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Aloha Stadium.

The skinny: The blueprint of Coach Abu Ma‘afala has gone through its share of tweaks since Year 1. The results so far in Year 2 beg this question: Should the Warriors be in the Top 4 or Top 3? Depth has rarely been an issue, and they are utilizing this luxury at running back, even with returning starter Kanoa Shannon getting plenty of work. KS-STL is, perhaps, the first can’t-miss big game of the fall.

6. Kailua (3-0, 2-0 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 6

Wins: @ Moanalua (44-0), Buckeye Union (28-27), Nanakuli (40-14).

Next: vs. No. 7 Farrington, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Surfriders are off to a scintillating start, but as standout offensive lineman Sione Veikoso noted, they haven’t faced the big dogs of their division yet. The power of their ground attack and the effectiveness of first-year starter Aaron Mejia (7 yards per pass attempt) make it a nice balance for Kailua. If defenses can’t get the Surfrider offense — and a very capable O-line — off the field, the battering-ram effect only gets more pronounced with each series.

In years past, I normally ranked teams in this region of the ballot — all things considered — based on sheer head-to-head projections if head-to-head results weren’t available. But it’s not so simple this early in the campaign. In fact, it’s downright ludicrous how much parity there is in the OIA.

** Twisted web **
Waianae beat Campbell
Campbell beat Farrington
Farrington beat Kapolei
Kapolei beat Waianae

Therefore, even though these four teams could and should be in the Top 10 on talent and coaching alone, I will defer until later. When one or more of these four teams separates itself from the pack, I’m going with squads that are unblemished so far. Even if their depth and talent aren’t close to what we know about Waianae (1-3), Campbell (2-2), Farrington (2-2) and Kapolei (2-2).

7. Hilo (2-0, 1-0 BIIF)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 8 (tie)

Wins: @ ‘Iolani (62-35), @ Hawaii Prep (73-6).

Next: vs. Honokaa, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: Untested, you say? Padding statistics, you bemoan? There aren’t a whole lot of football fans who understood that ‘Iolani would be one of the smaller teams in the state this season, even by the Raiders’ modest standards. And the Raiders did bounce back to trounce Kaimuki over the weekend. As for Kahale Huddleston’s enormous numbers, prodigious talent and superb grade-point average? 1) He hasn’t touched the ball much, just 26 times as a rusher and kick returner, for 690 yards and nine TDs. If teams kick the ball to him, his job is to run it back as far as he can. If it’s early in the game, Hilo will run the ball. If it’s late in the game, Hilo will run the ball. If the Vikings elect to keep their best RB in the game during a third or fourth quarter and risk injury, that is their prerogative. Of course, I’m interested in seeing what a replacement-level RB would do behind that vastly skilled and athletic offensive line. Huddleston (16 yards per carry) is doing his part. Backup Kaleo Ramos (8 per attempt), likewise.

8. Kapaa (2-0, 0-0 KIF)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Not ranked

Wins: @ Maui (24-7), Konawaena (33-13).

Next: vs. Waimea, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: Reaching the D-II state final and giving Lahainaluna a tough rub in defeat hasn’t done much to leave an impression on voters. Certainly, they aren’t ready to consider the dynastic Warriors in the same level as some of the OIA’s traditional title contenders, and that’s understandable. Lahainaluna earned its way into prominence, and the same bar is expected of Kapaa, I suppose. Fair or not, nothing stokes the fire like signature wins, and the Warriors haven’t quite notched a big one against a ranked foe, especially a D-I program. There have been clutch wins, notable wins, but not quite enough for the panel to open its eyes. Beating a D-I team on another island (Maui) and a perennial BIIF powerhouse (Konawaena) doesn’t jolt the Richter scale enough for them. For me, Kapaa will stay on my ballot until they lose, maybe. Or one of the D-I teams at .500 or lower goes on a roll.

9. Lahainaluna (3-1, 2-0 MIL)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 10

Wins: @ Pearl City (20-7), King Kekaulike (45-0), @ Maui (32-13).

Losses: **Kamehameha (34-10)

Next: @ Baldwin, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: The Lunas are the best D-II program in the state, and that goes for this season, so why are they lower than Kapaa on my ballot? Because numbers do count, just enough, and the loss to Kamehameha matters. Should the Lunas be penalized for taking on tough competition? Of course not. But I won’t penalize Kapaa either, for having a perfect record. Now, if Kapaa struggles with Waimea and Lahainaluna beats D-I Baldwin, well…

10. Damien (2-1, 0-0 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10: Not ranked.

Wins: @ Castle (42-7), @ Kealakehe (20-7).

Losses: Villa Park (14-6).

Next: vs. ‘Iolani, Saturday, 2 p.m., Skippa Diaz Stadium.

The skinny: I admit it. Damien probably isn’t one of the best 10 teams in the state. But my ballot isn’t about the “best” teams. It’s about the teams that have the results that could be Top 10, and Damien has done enough to have the 10 spot on my list. Yes, they lost to a good Villa Park team. But wins over D-I Castle and D-I Kealakehe do matter. This early in the season, I can justify in my pupule mind, rationalize just enough to sneak an overachieving program like Damien onto my ballot. This is much less likely later in the season as powerhouses rack up quality wins over each other, and the rest of the D-II elite rarely compete against ranked opponents. But, yes, Damien would hold its own against most Top 10 foes.

Honorable mention
Waianae (1-3, 1-2 OIA). With one of the toughest early schedules in the state behind them, I expected the Seariders to rise as their young squad gains experience. A 27-14 win over Campbell is a step in that direction.

Campbell (2-2, 2-1 OIA). The loss at Waianae isn’t a shock, but for a team that had big momentum, it’s a chance to regroup and sharpen.

Farrington (2-2, 2-1 OIA). Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 7. A stellar defensive performance and solid special teams made the difference in a 28-7 win over Kapolei. The buzz of the home crowd at Skippa Diaz Stadium is special. A long time coming, and totally an advantage for the home team.

Kapolei (2-2, 1-2 OIA). Star-Advertiser Top 10: No. 8 (tie). Arguably a Top 3 defense in the state, and when the offense stabilizes (becomes slightly balanced), the Hurricanes still have the potential to be a Top 4 team in the state.

Pearl City (3-1, 3-0 OIA D-II). The Chargers have outscored foes 106-0 in the past two weeks. The season-opening loss to Lahainaluna (20-7) is the only blemish. For me, it doesn’t hurt the Purple People Eaters a whole lot.

Waipahu (3-0, 2-0 OIA D-II). The Marauders are healthy thanks to a relatively lite/light schedule so far. The wins were expected (by me), but it’s tough to gauge where the black flag should be staked in the rankings at this point.

Kamehameha-Hawaii (3-1, 1-0 BIIF). Wins over Maui, Waiakea and Keaau have been decisive, but that opening loss at Kauai (10-7) is an issue for me as a voter.


  1. The Rim August 30, 2017 7:31 am

    #7 Hilo – Just an observation of the HPA-Hilo game and your comments. #1-Hilo threw the ball most of the first Qtr passing for two TD’s and one rushing TD by Huddleston. #2-Huddleston carried the ball about five times in the first half scoring three times. #3- Most if not all of the starters did not play after the first Qtr, or played one or two plays here and there. #4- HPA had mental errors that pinned them inside the five most of the game. #5- Huddleston played one play on a kickoff return, was not touched and returned it 97 yards. Risk of injury? That can happen at practice so why even mention it.

  2. Education First August 30, 2017 8:34 am

    The goal is to play. The reason why many coaches often allow starters to play in the 4th quarter of games that might already be decided could be one of the following reasons.

    1) Kids need to play into the 4th quarter to get their bodies used to playing into the 4th quarter.

    2) You cannot simulate game speed in practice and it takes playing into the 4th quarter to get bodies properly conditioned.

    3) Often you might leave starters into the game into the 4th quarter to develop chemistry and cohesion, especially being pretty early into the season.

    4) I do not know the roster, but often if you have inexperienced players playing, allowing more experienced players to continue to play bring a calm to the team that will often help the less experienced players.

    5) Like THE RIM said, you can get injured anywhere. The kids play football expecting or hoping to compete for 4 quarters.

    At the end, it’s the coach’s prerogative to play kids however they feel fit.

  3. Coach C August 30, 2017 9:05 am

    With all the Hu ha about Division 1 and open, how does hilo,lahainaluna,Kapaa and damien jump ahead of Kapolei,Waianae,Farrington and campbell? This is why there is no clear indication when OIA teams approaches the classification table and announce their true level. Also when do these outer island teams claim Open? No excuse for Waianae, but they went thru a brutal first 3 games.

  4. OKWATEVA August 30, 2017 9:59 am

    How can you even put the outer Island teams and Div 2 teams it the top 10 ? Competition, Competition, Competition, there is no way that Hilo, Kapaa, or Damien would beat Waianae or Farrington. There should be a clear cut top 10 with just Open, D1, and D2 all in their own category.

  5. Oia#1 August 30, 2017 10:34 am

    Do you guys think the bottom 5 teams have a chance against campbell, kapolei, farrington and waianae? This ranking is pupule alright.

  6. Hyn August 30, 2017 10:54 am

    Well we should find out this week because farrington plays Kailua. At least the bottom four wouldn’t stand a chance against those teams.

  7. rootedNOTrecruited August 30, 2017 2:32 pm

    what a joke ranking… waianae, farrington, campbell and kapolei belong in there… 7 through 10 wouldnt touch them lol smh

  8. Coach_B August 30, 2017 3:08 pm

    @Paul Honda

    I’d just like clarification on your sources for your rankings and roster data. Just within the the Mililani section you mentioned there are several statements that seem off.

    First was that Punahou might have the best defensive line in the ILH. To my knowledge I think that there are several individual linemen in the ILH with more offers than the Punahou line combined. Make of that what you will.

    Second, where/when did you ever see Hunter Hosoda kick for Punahou? To my knowledge he never attempted any kick/punt. Tim Horn on the other hand is one of two kickers on the roster who has been an up and comer under coach Hannum. He was on the roster and handled kick off duties last year.

    Third, Cortez Feria has seen at least as many snaps/carries at RB as Kaufusi and more than Terrell. At least worth mentioning his contribution considering he very well might have the 2nd or 3rd most yards on the team after Barber and Kaufusi.

    Fourth, Punahou has no returning starters and only two returnees period at WR, neither with significant experience. If you consider that no component of last year’s dominant passing attack is returning, I would give Mililani a significant advantage.

    Comments and opinions are fine, but try double check on your facts.

  9. anywaaaays!! August 30, 2017 5:34 pm

    on the Kahuku Summary:

    Its interesting that PH brings up 2010 with MM. “He ran untouched for a 54 yd TD and never ran again” is also untrue, how can he run for a 54 yd td, never run again and then finish the game with 82 yds.

    I think the insinuation is that STL could have won the game if MM ran a 2nd time untouched, and a 3rd time untouched, 4th, 5th…all for TDs to win the game. That is highly unlikely as Kahuku made adjustments in the 2nd half and took a 23-21 halftime lead and blew the game wide open in the 2nd half 49-27. Its a team sport and STL special teams and defense was below average that year, Kahukus offense was probably the most balanced Kahuku has ever seen and their defense was great.

    The media always falls for the glitz and glamour of high-flying offenses and spiral footballs. If you can throw a football you have already won in the medias eyes even when you walk home with the L.

    (2010) Kahuku dominates St. Louis, 49-27

  10. ToppDogg August 30, 2017 5:45 pm


    Kahuku does seem to be developing a high-flying offense this year which, according to your thinking will find favor in the medias eyes. However the ball will not be spiral.

  11. Hyn August 30, 2017 7:03 pm

    @ToppDogg that’s some funny stuff!

  12. Alpha August 31, 2017 8:54 pm

    But Punahou’s gray unis though. . .Niiice…..

  13. Sonny August 31, 2017 11:39 pm

    Punahou’s Grey Jerseys might be the ugliest uniforms in the state if not the entire US. I hope it was free and donated. If they paid for it, I hope they ask for their money back. The color looks like decayed feces….

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