Pupule ballot: Voters raise Waipahu’s black flag

Waipahu linebacker Centennial Kulikefu (44) readied himself to deliver a big tackle for the Marauders against Kaimuki earlier this season. Photo by Steven Erler/Special to Star-Advertiser

The Black Flag is waving on the castle of Star-Advertiser Football Top 10, and that means another team has been bumped out. Unless there has been a tie.

Waipahu, Damien, Lahainaluna, all worthy teams this season and especially for Damien in recent years, and Lahainaluna over the course of decades, that have been overlooked due to Division II designation/choice. I lamented almost endlessly last week about Damien’s strategic approach and defeat, and whatever the case, voters penalized the Monarchs by booting them out of the Top 10. Even I did, after weeks and weeks of voting them as high as No. 6.

This time, it’s Waipahu, which has throttled OIA Division II, that enters at No. 10. The Marauders are at No. 7 on my ballot (see the list below), and again it is a low ceiling, low floor scenario. The lack of ranked teams on slate means voters haven’t been rewarding the Marauders for a perfect mark, and a single loss would be a fall off the mountain peak, as they did to Damien.

Lahainaluna would likely have a similar fate even though the MIL’s integrated schedule means the Lunas have to beat quality D-I programs like Baldwin and Maui on a regular basis — which they’ve done this fall.

Pupule FB ballot 10/16/17
1. Saint Louis Crusaders (7-0, 4-0 ILH)
2. Kahuku Red Raiders (8-1, 7-0 OIA)
3. Mililani Trojans (9-0, 7-0 OIA)
4. Kamehameha Warriors (4-4, 0-4 ILH
5. Punahou Buffanblu (5-3, 2-2 ILH)
6. Lahainaluna Lunas (8-1, 7-0 MIL)
7. Waipahu Marauders (9-0, 7-0 OIA D-II)
8. Campbell Sabers (7-3, 5-2 OIA)
9. Waianae Seariders (6-3, 5-2 OIA)
10. Leilehua Mules (6-3, 5-2 OIA)

Pupule breakdown
1. Saint Louis Crusaders (7-0, 4-0 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 1
How I voted last week: No. 1

Over the weekend: Idle.
Wins: @ *Waianae 49-7, Baldwin 61-0, *Kamehameha 44-0, *Punahou 49-13, *Narbonne (Calif.) 56-50, *Kamehameha 23-12, *Punahou 40-20.
Losses: None.
Next: vs. *Kamehameha, Aloha Stadium, Saturday, 6 p.m.
The skinny: A week of rest and reps comes at a great time for the gentlemen of Kalaepohaku. With the ascent of Kamehameha, the Crusaders could be in war-room mode, or if-it-ain’t-broken-don’t-fix-it mode.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. Still very Chiyonofuji.

2. Kahuku Red Raiders (8-1, 7-0 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 2
How I voted last week: No. 2

Over the weekend: def. *Kapolei 35-7.
Wins: Leilehua 24-0, @ *Waianae 37-0, Moanalua 40-6, @ Aiea 51-7, Kaiser 2-0 (forfeit), Radford 64-0, @ *Campbell 45-6, *Kapolei 35-7.
Losses: *Bingham (Utah) 17-0 at Las Vegas.
Next: vs. *Campbell, Aloha Stadium, Friday, 5 p.m.
The skinny: The quarterfinal win over Kapolei revealed one very distinct aspect in this state-title quest: QB Sol-Jay Maiava is prepared for the next step in Kahuku’s offensive evolution. His poise and sense of urgency were a perfect blend as the Red Raiders drove in the final minute of the first half, and that circular scramble was part-improvisation, part-mastery. He’s still just a sophomore, and he’s not someone Kahuku overly depends on. They still ran the ball 32 times out of 67 plays from scrimmage, but clearly they’re prepared to unleash elements of the offense that Maiava is full comfortable with.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna.

3. Mililani Trojans (9-0, 7-0 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 3
How I voted last week: No. 3

Over the weekend: def. Moanalua 49-14.
Wins: @ Kaiser 2-0 (forfeit), *Leilehua 47-0, @ Castle 49-0, @ Clayton Valley Charter (Calif.) 49-30, @ *Farrington 42-6, @ *Kapolei 42-21, Nanakuli 44-33, *Kailua 52-0, Moanalua 49-14.
Losses: None.
Next: vs. *Waianae, Aloha Stadium, Friday, 7:45 p.m.
The skinny: Very good defense, probably top five statewide. Explosive offense, dependent on perfect reads and execution. Nobody has stopped it. McKenzie would be proud. Dillon Gabriel is stronger and more durable and everything depends on his health, so… 1) a win on Friday assures Mililani of one of the three berths in the HHSAA Open Division state championships, 2) at this point most defense will take away downfield opportunities and try to keep the fleet-footed Gabriel under wraps, 3) the onus will continue to be on the ground game. A healthy Kilifi Malepeai is key.
Sumo rank: Yokozuna. How hard is it to get to this point of the year and still be unbeaten? Only two teams have done it so far. The Trojans do it with consistency week after week.

4. Kamehameha Warriors (4-4, 0-4 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 4
How I voted last week: No. 5

Over the weekend: def. *Punahou 44-31.
Wins: @ *Farrington 34-15, @ *Lahainaluna 34-10, Carson (Calif.) 33-10, *Punahou 44-31.
Losses: *Saint Louis 44-0, *Punahou 21-0, *Punahou 21-17, *Saint Louis 23-12.
Next: vs. *Saint Louis, Aloha Stadium, Saturday, 6 p.m.
The skinny: Head to head, there’s no doubt. Kamehameha and Punahou were so even, and the Warriors came through in the fourth quarter to eliminate Punahou from the ILH playoffs. Logically, there’s a case for Punahou, which won the previous two meetings with the Warriors. But current head-to-head means a lot, and this is where I give Kamehameha 4a and Punahou 4b.

The signature win during Coach Abu Ma‘afala’s coaching career came at the right time. The Warriors had dominated foes outside ILH D-I, but within the framework of what is expected, there is very little mercy in the state’s most competitive league. The Warriors came up huge against Punahou.

With Kamehameha-Saint Louis around the corner — the winner goes to the state tourney, loser stays home — the same thoughts come to mind. The politics and history of high school athletics in Hawaii, on Oahu in particular, are fascinating and sobering. The fan in me wonders how, every year, we have a Top 5 team missing the state tourney. Pick any sport, pretty much. Of course, the ILH created this scenario over the decades, and what we have is the byproduct of immaculately developed academics and athletics, competition for the brightest mathletes and athletes. 2016 was a thing of beauty to see the top two ILH teams play in the Open Division of the state tourney.

Sumo rank: Ozeki.

5. Punahou Buffanblu (5-3, 2-2 ILH)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 5
How I voted last week: No. 4

Over the weekend: lost to *Kamehameha 44-31.
Wins: Moanalua 35-7, *Torrey Pines (Calif.) 56-42, @ *Serra 56-42, *Kamehameha 21-0, *Kamehameha 21-17.
Losses: *Saint Louis 49-13, *Saint Louis 40-20, *Kamehameha 44-31.
Next: Season over.
The skinny: In another universe, I’d configure a charity tournament for the ousted teams. Imagine Punahou, Kapolei, Leilehua, Farrington, either Kamehameha or Saint Louis, either Damien or St. Francis, playing in a bowl-style playoff tournament. Split the revenues between the schools and a charity. It would never go, of course, due to strict exhibition-game rules during the season. ILH teams would possibly go for it. In 1990, Damien was invited to play in the MacNut Bowl and beat Konawaena 17-6 at Julian Yates Field. Damien was second in the ILH’s first round that year with a 4-1 mark. Then their QB (Breckterfield) got hurt and they stumbled. He was healed up in time for the bowl game and it was a good battle, and full house, at Konawaena.

Sumo rank: Ozeki.

6. Lahainaluna Lunas (8-1, 7-0 MIL)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 8
How I voted last week: No. 6

Over the weekend: Idle.
Wins: @ Pearl City 20-7, King Kekaulike 45-0, Maui 32-13 (War Memorial Stadium), Baldwin 28-20 (WMS), @ Kamehameha-Maui 39-19, Maui 24-17, King Kekaulike 52-0, Baldwin 20-17 (OT).
Losses: *Kamehameha 34-10.
Next: vs. Kamehameha-Maui, Friday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: It’s there for the Lunas’ taking: another MIL D-II crown and automatic state berth. And with a win, they Lunas are in position to nab the top seed in the state D-II tourney as the defending champions.

Sumo rank: Komusubi.

7. Waipahu Marauders (9-0, 7-0 OIA D-II)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 10
How I voted last week: No. 8

Over the weekend: def. Roosevelt 38-0.
Wins: @ Nanakuli 51-14, Kalaheo 2-0 (forfeit), Roosevelt 35-8, Waialua 63-7, Kalani 49-0 (Kaiser Stadium), Pearl City 37-6, Kaimuki 35-14, McKinley 56-0.
Losses: None.
Next: Idle. Vs. Pearl City, Aloha Stadium, Thursday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m.
The skinny: The team from Y-Pahu is in the state tourney, and now they are also one win from securing the OIA D-II championship. First, a week of rest and healing. They had a bye in early September, so they’ll appreciate this well-earned break.

CORRECTION: No team from the OIA has qualified yet for the D-II state championships. The D-II tourney has four entrants statewide and just one from the OIA, so the winner of Friday’s matchup between Waipahu and Pearl City will qualify. My apologies for the mistake. The D-II bracket had two OIA teams last year, but was reduced this season.

Sumo rank: Komusubi.

8. Campbell Sabers (7-3, 5-2 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 7
How I voted last week: No. 9

Over the weekend: def. @ *Leilehua 10-6.
Wins: *Farrington 26-20, Aiea 48-13, Kaiser 71-0, Moanalua 51-6, @ Radford 35-19, Castle 24-9 , @ *Leilehua 10-6.
Losses: *Kapolei 23-7, @ *Waianae 27-14, *Kahuku 45-6.
Next: vs. *Kahuku, Aloha Stadium, Friday, 5 p.m.
The skinny: Quite a season for the young Sabers. They’ve already lost to Kahuku once. It will take a perfect game (almost) to keep up with the defending champions.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake. Very, very little separates Campbell from the glut of quality teams in the OIA, such as Leilehua. But the Sabers have two quality wins (ranked opponents), a solid resume and the bonus of winning in the playoffs. Top 4 in the OIA is very noteworthy.

9. Waianae Seariders (6-3, 5-2 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: No. 6
How I voted last week: No. 10
Over the weekend: def. *Farrington 27-21

Wins: *Campbell 27-14, Moanalua 43-20, @ Radford 47-15, Aiea 44-0., *Farrington.
Losses: *Saint Louis 49-7, *Kapolei 7-0, *Kahuku 37-0.
The skinny: Once again, though the Seariders may struggle early in the season — partly because they usually have the toughest preseason matchups in the state — they rise and develop over the course of time. And here they are, once again, in the OIA semifinals. Top 4 out of 22 football programs in the league. Again.
Sumo rank: Sekiwake. A second win over a ranked team plus overall resume plus winning in the clutch earned the Seariders this promotion.

Honorable mention
Farrington Governors (5-5, 4-3 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: Not ranked
How I voted last week: Not ranked

Over the weekend: lost @ *Waianae 27-21.
Wins: @ Nanakuli 35-0, *Kapolei 28-7, @ *Kailua 3-0, Castle 53-16, Radford 36-14.
Losses: *Kamehameha 34-15, @ *Campbell 26-20, *Mililani 42-6, @ *Leilehua 33-6, lost @ *Waianae.
Next: Season over.
The skinny: Young team, rebuilding after three years of great talent and work ethic. This was a classic overachieving team, keeping games close against deeper, more experienced and often more talented programs while beating the teams they should have beaten. They might be the only team in the state with five losses and all five against Top 10 opponents.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Kapolei Hurricanes (5-5, 3-4 OIA)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: Not ranked
How I voted last week: Not ranked

Over the weekend: lost @ *Kahuku 35-7.
Wins: @ *Campbell 23-7, @ *Waianae 7-0, @ *Kailua 33-0, @ Nanakuli 36-0, Aiea 41-0.
Losses: Castle 2-0 (forfeit), @ *Farrington 28-7, Leilehua 20-19 (OT), *Mililani 42-21, lost @ *Kahuku 35-7.
Next: Season over.
The skinny: I’ve penned countless inches about how the OIA format rewards late-season success and indirectly penalizes regular-season success, i.e. no automatic state-tournament berths. It works both ways, and in Kapolei’s case, the opportunity to reach a state tourney was stonewalled by defending OIA champion Kahuku. The difference in wins, losses and totem-pole position in the standings is huge in the OIA, where no sane team really wants to have a state berth on the line against the physically imposing and traditionally dominant Red Raiders. The frustrations of the Hurricanes could be traced to the academic ineligibility glitch that forced the team to forfeit a lopsided win over Castle. That would’ve give Kapolei better standing in the division and a better chance to avoid Kahuku. But it’s all history now, and the only question left from this pupule is why so many quality programs don’t have the opportunity to play in the Division I state championships. It may be about quality control by the league, or safety concerns about longer seasons, but there’s no question teams like Kapolei, Leilehua, Farrington are clearly competitive at D-I statewide. Even Kailua, Moanalua, etc. would fare well. Safety? There are teams in California that play 15 games. Kapolei has played 10 and Coach Darren Hernandez says they would be game to play one, two or three more. The opportunity for more exposure, more fun, for players and coaches it’s a mystery why they’re denied this by their own league.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

Damien Monarchs (8-2, 5-1 ILH D-II)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: Not ranked
How I voted last week: Not ranked
Over the weekend: def. Pac-Five 30-20.
Wins: @ Castle 42-7, @ Kealakehe 20-7, ‘Iolani 35-21, Pac-Five 39-18, St. Francis 27-20, @ ‘Iolani 42-35 (OT), def. Pac-Five 30-20.
Losses: *Villa Park (Calif.) 14-6, St. Francis 19-0.
Next: vs. St. Francis, Aloha Stadium, Saturday, 3 p.m.
The skinny: There really is no significant difference between the Damien team I voted No. 6 for weeks and the one that won its semifinal game last week. Should voters ignore results that have no bearing on regular-season standings? Probably.
Sumo rank: Komusubi.

St. Francis Saints (7-3, 4-2 ILH D-II)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: Not ranked
How I voted last week: Not ranked

Over the weekend: won @ ‘Iolani 43-19.
Wins: Kauai 42-0 at Punahou, @ Konawaena 39-20, Pac-Five 35-21 at Aloha Stadium, @ ‘Iolani 43-26, *Damien 19-0, @ ‘Iolani 43-19.
Losses: @ Leilehua 13-9, Damien 27-20.
Next: vs. *Damien, Aloha Stadium, Saturday, 3 p.m.
The skinny: The Saints are marching in, rolling since a late-season loss to ‘Iolani.
Sumo rank: Maegashira.

‘Iolani Raiders (4-5, 3-3 ILH D-II)
Star-Advertiser Top 10 this week: Not ranked
How I voted last week: Not ranked

Over the weekend: lost to St. Francis 43-19.
Wins: Kaimuki 57-34, Pac-Five 55-20, St. Francis 45-29, Pac-Five 34-0.
Losses: *Hilo 62-35, *Damien 35-21, St. Francis 43-26, *Damien 42-35 (OT), St. Francis 43-19.
Next: Idle. HHSAA D-II state tourney.
The skinny: The loss of WR Justin Genovia (collarbone) was a major key in the loss to St. Francis. He won’t be back this season, but the Raiders still have the D-II state tourney ahead.
Sumo rank: Maegashira.

Bonus pupule
Teams that I don’t have on my ballot, yet orbit the voggy atmosphere of my brain.

Kauai Red Raiders (5-2, 4-1 KIF)
Wins: Kamehameha-Hawaii 10-7, Waimea 34-20 (Hanapepe Stadium), Kapaa 27-17, Kapaa 30-0, Waimea 23-3 (Hanapepe).
Losses: St. Francis 42-0 (Alexander Field/Punahou), Waimea 16-14.

The skinny: So which came first, the chicken or the egg? I mean, if Kauai had declared to be in D-II, would there have been this same mission to win the KIF and play in the state tournament? Or did the Red Raiders see the surge of new talent coming to campus? Either way, they play three-time defending champion Kapaa on Saturday at Vidinha Stadium. Nothing is really at stake besides Pride. On Kauai, that is pretty much everything.

Sumo rank: Juryo. By now, the Red Raiders are probably worthy of a Maegashira rank. But we just an’t measure that improvement emprically. I mean, they lost to St. Francis by six TDs. The Saints are Maegashira, like a Maegashira East 1. Kauai might be a Maegashira West 5 or 6. But they haven’t beaten a ranked team, and St. Francis beat Damien, a previously ranked team.

Waimea Menehune (4-3, 3-3 KIF)
Wins: Pac-Five 49-21 (Hanapepe Stadium), Kauai 16-14 (Vidinha Stadium), Kapaa 34-24 (Hanapepe), Kapaa 55-38 (Vidinha).
Losses: Kauai 34-20 (Hanapepe), Kapaa 47-21 (Vidinha), Kauai 23-3 (Hanapepe).
Next: TBA (HHSAA D-II state tournament).

The skinny: The Menehune are in state-tourney play for the first time in AGES. Paging Jordan Dizon. Paging Jon Kobayashi. WOW. It has also been ages since I’ve been to Hanapepe Stadium, back when it had gray wooden bleachers just like old Honolulu Stadium.

Sumo rank: Juryo.

Hilo Vikings (7-1, 6-1 BIIF)
Wins: @ ‘Iolani 62-35, @ Hawaii Prep 73-6, Honokaa 41-0, @ Waiakea 54-0, @ Kamehameha-Hawaii 28-14, Keaau 63-6, Kealakehe 42-29.
Losses: @ Konawaena 24-14.
Next: vs. Kealakehe, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: Hilo is not a large school. Hasn’t been for some time. The new gym, I’ve got to see it one day, just like the “new” wood floor at Konawaena, which I’ve seen on a non-game day. The Vikings are right at the point where they have a strong foundation in football, yet don’t get the consistent competition in the BIIF at a higher D-I level. Not much can be done about that, though it still boggles my mind that the program played in the MIL for four years during the 1960s, winning a title before eschewing those brutal ferry rides from Hilo to Maui for good.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

Konawaena Wildcats (7-2, 7-0 BIIF)
Wins: @ Kealakehe 46-16, Keaau 50-0, Honokaa 40-7, *Hilo 24-14, @ Waiakea 57-8, @ Kamehameha-Hawaii 13-12, Hawaii Prep 2-0 (forfeit).
Losses: Kapaa 33-13 (Vidinha Stadium), St. Francis 39-20.
Next: vs. Kamehameha-Hawaii, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: Seven wins in a row for the Wildcats, which also coincides with the return of all their academic-probation players. For the umpteenth time, student-athletes, DO YOUR WORK. It only takes an hour or two to finish homework and turn it in on time. Double check it and you probably get an A or B. Some kids don’t get reinforcement from home when it comes to academic success, but every one of the Wildcats has something special with this football program. The history. The tradition. The passion. And getting below 2.0 GPA in the spring is really an affront to that history, tradition and passion. Leadership starts with yourselves. Do the work. Otherwise, what point would it be for the coaching staff to schedule top D-II teams in preseason when so many Wildcats treat school like this. Rant over.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

Baldwin Bears (4-5, 4-3 MIL)
Wins: King Kekaulike 57-7, Kamehameha-Maui 46-14, King Kekaulike 55-6, @ Kamehameha-Maui 59-47.
Losses: *Saint Louis 61-0 (Aloha Stadium), *Mission Viejo (Calif.) 39-14, *Lahainaluna 28-20, Maui 32-21, @ *Lahainaluna 17-14, OT.
Next: vs. Maui, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: Baldwin-Maui is one of the best matchups in the islands this weekend.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

Maui Sabers (4-5, 4-3 MIL)
Wins: King Kekaulike 55-0, Baldwin 32-21, Kamehameha-Maui 27-23, King Kekaulike 45-6.
Losses: Kapaa 24-7, @ Kamehameha-Hawaii 23-0, @ Kamehameha-Maui 21-13, *Lahainaluna 32-13, @ *Lahainaluna 24-17.
Next: vs. Baldwin, Friday, 7 p.m.

The skinny: The most improved team in the MIL? Probably. The Sabers have closed the gap against everyone.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

Pearl City Chargers (7-2, 6-1 OIA D-II)
Wins: Kalani 22-16 (Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium/Roosevelt), Roosevelt 42-0 (Aloha Stadium), Waialua 64-0, Kalaheo 31-0, Kaimuki 17-15 (Skippa Diaz Stadium/Farrington), McKinley 42-0, Kaimuki 7-0.
Losses: *Lahainaluna 20-7, @ *Waipahu 37-6.
Next: Idle. Vs. Waipahu, Aloha Stadium, Thursday, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.

The skinny: The Chargers have always been fundamentally sound under Coach Robin Kami, playing with commitment defensively and on special teams. They don’t air it out a lot, but they have balance offensively. In other words, they do what it takes, and that’s the mentality it’ll take to beat unbeaten Waipau next week.

Sumo rank: Maegashira.

Molokai Farmers (5-1, 3-0 MIL 8-man)
The skinny: Nothing new here. I’m still curious about whether the Farmers will stay in 8-man or move up to 11-man. The numbers are there: 38 on this year’s roster, and 33 were underclassmen. That alone doesn’t mean any program should move up, but it’s a heck of a starting point. A move by Molokai would hurt the 8-Man league (Lanai, Hana and Seabury Hall). And there’s no word about Seabury Hall, either. It’s been two years since I heard that the Spartans were interested in 11-man, and though they were 0-6 this year, they were still highly competitive.

Ka‘u Trojans (4-2, 4-1 BIIF 8-man)
The skinny: Of any league that is engaged or considering 8-man, the BIIF might fit the game best. I love that Pahoa is back to the gridiron. The numbers on campus are certainly there, and now, clearly, there is ample adult leadership. I remember going to Pahoa in the early 1990s with a photographer (we were at West Hawaii Today) for photo day. Three players and one assistant coach showed up. The program folded a week later. Sad. But today, it’s happy times for Dagger football. Pahoa (5-1, 3-1 BIIF 8-man) had a game with Kohala scheduled on Oct. 13, but it was cancelled. So, technically, Ka‘u has the better league record, but for practical purposes, it seems like that canceled game would have been a lopsided win for Pahoa because Kohala has struggled this season (0-6, outscored 265-54).


  1. Northshore October 19, 2017 6:47 am

    You continually list the Bingham/Kahuku score as 21-0. Get it right, it was 17-0 although it’s not really a big thing, it’s still a lost.

  2. John kamai October 22, 2017 12:43 am

    Marauders are so overrated

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