Pupule’s ballot: No. 1a or No. 1b?

(Photos by Jay Metzger / Special to the Star-Advertiser and Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser)
(Photos by Jay Metzger / Special to the Star-Advertiser and Jamm Aquino / Star-Advertiser)

Dear Prep Football Top 10 Voters,

My name is Paul. My mom called me Pupule from time to time. That’s saying something because she saw her share of crazy things in her life growing up, and she called me insane. But I am not insane, actually.

It’s this week’s Football Top 10 that is bordering on being ridiculous, or as the kids say, ridonkulous.

Here’s how I voted, which is not to say I have the perfect ballot. But in comparison, you may see why the logic of beating the previous No. 1 team, then not being voted No. 1, is mostly loose footing.

1. Kamehameha.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 1: Punahou
I’m not saying Kamehameha is the sole dominant team in the state. They’re still a work in progress like every other team. But they did beat No. 1 Saint Louis 38-17. They have a tremendous defense and a bone-crunching offensive line leading a powerful ground attack. To me, they’ve been the most consistent team so far. By a hair.

2. Punahou, a.k.a. 1b.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 2: Kamehameha.
This is one of the closest votes ever in the Star-Advertiser Top 10. Punahou outpointed Kamehameha by precisely one point, 265-264. In other words, coaches and media split the difference by 3/100ths of 1 percent. The Buffanblu were superb in a 10-6 win over CIF power Helix on Saturday. I was happy, they’re happy and most fans in Hawaii are happy. I can’t argue against the Buffanblu belonging at the top spot. But the fact is, we don’t know how good or not so good Helix is this year. We know exactly how good Saint Louis is. Otherwise, it should’ve been an easy No. 1 vote for the POI pounders. I call them that because they often line up in a pistol set with an offset-I. Easier to write in my notes and stats (POI) than spelling it all out.

3. Saint Louis.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 3: Saint Louis
Wasn’t so long ago that I was content to leave Kahuku in this slot even after their loss to Saint Louis. Kamehameha basically did to Saint Louis what Saint Louis did to Kahuku: pull away in the final quarter. The Crusaders were sometimes a step behind defensively against Kamehameha, but for the most part, they played terrific defense. But if officials continue to allow a physical defense (like Kamehameha) to pound before and after the whistle (or pass) on a passing offense like Saint Louis, I’m not sure if Ryder Kuhns will be able to adapt. This is the ILH, not the NFL, and the toll of taking hits is huge on a high school kid.

4. Leilehua.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 4: Leilehua
The voters got this right, so I’m fine with this. The Mules aren’t clicking on all cylinders yet, but they’re getting close. It’s a reloading/rebuilding year for so many elite programs. Right now, the Mules are showing that they’re very ready for any opponent. A lopsided win over Vincent Massey (Canada) doesn’t help or hurt the Mules’ status on my ballot. The fact that they took care of their business counts.

5. Mililani.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 5: Kahuku
The Red Raiders lost to East (Utah) and the Trojans were impressive in a road win over previously unbeaten (and No. 5) Waianae. I’m a believer in Kahuku’s upside as anyone, but results matter in these weekly re-calibrations, and the men of Troy belong here. Maybe higher.

6. Kahuku.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 6: Mililani
In the poll, Kahuku has a 3-point edge on the Trojans. But on the field, it’s clear that the Trojans are the more well-rounded team at this point. If and when Kahuku finds its groove, another trip to the state tourney will be definite. Right now, it’s up in the air.

7. ‘Iolani.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 7: Waianae
Raiders keep doing what works, and I’m not about to penalize them for the lack of strength in their schedule. Waianae faltered a bit against Mililani — at home! — so I bumped the Seariders below the Raiders by a skosh.

8. Waianae.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 8: Campbell
Seariders have some impressive early-season wins. Sabers are almost there. They had Leilehua on the ropes a bit a few weeks ago.

9. Campbell.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 9: ‘Iolani
Not faulting the voters for diminishing ‘Iolani’s feats so far. Playing Division II has that effect often enough.

10. Lahainaluna.
Star-Advertiser Top 10 No. 10: Lahainaluna
One of the few votes that I agree with the panel on. Lunas rolled to victory over Kamehameha-Maui 42-7. The one thing holding them back in the poll is the lack of elite competition. Even if and when the Lunas beat Baldwin, that won’t make a big difference to voters. But one closer-than-expected win and I predict the pollsters will bump the men in red.

The Others
For all the parity and excitement of unpredictable games so far, on the whole, football is a notch down statewide. That’s why it’s hard to find other teams even close to cracking the Top 10.

Farrington. The Governors continue to learn on the job, rallying to stun Castle in overtime. Comparing last year’s Govs to this year’s team is really not a good gauge of where the 2013 squad is. New OL starters. New running backs. Even now, with Montana Liana out (knee), new quarterbacks. They’re doing what they can to survive right now.

Kaiser. They miss Kai Gonda occasionally, a guy who could play offense, defense and special teams with huge production. But they’re finding themselves and motoring along. Keeping key players healthy is a priority. Fitou Fisiiahi gives and takes a pounding each week on both sides of the ball. Again, like ‘Iolani, it’ll be tough sledding for the Cougars in the polls. It’ll be tougher, actually, for the Cougars. ‘Iolani will get their shots at the ILH’s D-I giants. Kaiser has a D-II slate the rest of the way.

Kapolei. That lopsided loss to Mililani two weekends ago really hurts them poll-wise. But there’s lots of time for the Hurricanes to reach their potential thanks to the generous OIA playoff format.

Kapaa. Wipeout win over Nanakuli, road loss to Lahainaluna and a KIF-opener win over Waimea 23-0. I’ve got my eye on the Warriors and offensive lineman Maka Ah Loo. KIF is always a grind. Always good football. And KIF football games are streamed online. Cool stuff.

Maui and Konawaena. Konawaena is ripping BIIF foes apart now. But that 47-37 loss to Maui to start the season is a major obstacle even for voters like me who spent years on the neighbor islands. And Maui lost to Baldwin 33-13 two weeks ago.

Baldwin. The Bears are probably relishing this underdog role in the MIL with Lahainaluna getting a lot of pub. The 49-20 loss to CIF dynasty program Mission Viejo is no big deal, not to me.

Kealakehe. When I say it’s a down year statewide, it’s because of graduation more than anything. The Waveriders had a stellar senior class last fall, and now they’re just trying to win the BIIF whichever way they can. They got past Keaau 21-12 on the road on Saturday. The week before, it was a 34-0 loss at Kamehameha (Oahu). It’s too bad Kealakehe and Konawaena don’t play each other, not even in exhibition games.

(Correction: The BIIF changed its scheduling format in football. Kealakehe and Konawaena play each other this season.)

McKinley. They’re doing more than I expected without Tyrell Tuiasosopo (foot) with wins over Moanalua and Kaimuki. The Tigers lost early on at Kapolei. Can they win on the road at Castle on Friday? Big test in the OIA Red East.

Sincerely pupule,


  1. Helping Hand September 3, 2013 5:07 pm

    Paul you wrote Waianae had Leilehua on the ropes a few weeks ago? What does that mean exactly haha. Waianae plays Leilehua this week

  2. Noaguchi September 3, 2013 5:48 pm

    Paul you wrote that you’d like to see a Kealakehe vs Konawaena game, well check this year’s BIFF schedule as both play on Saturday, 10/12 at Kealakehe 7:30pm. This year, all BIFF teams play each other once (instead of teams playing each other twice in their respective division). Thought behind the change this year is probably due to money being made available for the teams to travel, and it preps the Div II teams to play other neighbor island teams i.e. Oahu teams should they advance past the first round of playoffs. Hope you’ll get a chance to get to Kona that weekend.

  3. 808Football September 3, 2013 9:05 pm

    Who is going to be the best high school football team in Hawaii at the end of the season? We will never know, unless the HHSAA make changes in who qualifies for state football playoffs. The playoffs should have the stateʻs best teams. Not just put teams in because of location or amount of teams in your division. Letʻs have the stateʻs top ten teams based on voters from around the state in the playoffs! just like the BCS and NCAA does. First round would have 4 games with top 1 and 2 getting byes until 3rd round. This will truly determine Hawaiiʻs best football team! As of today, 5 football teams out of the your top ten would not even qualify for playoffs according to HHSAA rules. Sadly, we will never know who would be crowned State Champion!

  4. Billy Hull September 4, 2013 1:26 am

    Interesting 808Football. I get it that the state tournament doesn’t feature the top six teams in the state going in, but don’t you still get the best team winning it all? If you’re the best team in the state, shouldn’t you win your conference and get into the state tournament as is? If you don’t, how can you be considered the best team?

    You have a point that the best six teams don’t take up the six spots in the Division I state tournament, but looking at past champions Kahuku x2 and Saint Louis, I feel like the best team in the state won it all each time.

  5. Paul Honda September 4, 2013 1:34 am

    Noaguchi, thank you for reminding me. I totally forgot the BIIF changed the schedule format. Part of me wonders if that’s one reason programs at Kohala and Ka‘u had trouble getting numbers out in the summer. Probably not. But the previous format that separated D-I and D-II was a plus for those smaller programs. Wasn’t it some years back when the smaller programs outright refused to play Kealakehe?

    As for Konawaena and Kealakehe, that’ll be a fun matchup. Too bad they couldn’t play the past few years. Either side told me they were ready and willing, that the other team wouldn’t do it. The gate revenue can’t hurt. I like the picture fog rolling into Julian Yates Field during warmups … it would be nuts!

    808Football, a lot of fans like you and me want a format that brings out the best teams. But the process of change is very … well … democratic. It comes down to this: every year in the past five or six, when a proposal to expand the state tourney (D-I) back to eight teams is up for vote, the ILH has voted against it. That, essentially, kills it since the OIA and ILH outnumber the rest of the leagues in any voting.

    I’d love to see an at-large team among the eight. Would the gate revenue offset the travel costs of having an additional neighbor island team? Or would that eighth team (with an ILH team being the seventh) automatically be from the OIA. Not everyone from the OIA wants to see more OIA teams in any state tourney. The league already represents roughly half of all entries in every state-championship sport.

  6. Helping the Helping Hand September 4, 2013 9:00 am

    He was referring to campbell having leilehua on the ropes last week. “Seariders have some impressive early-season wins. Sabers are almost there. They had Leilehua on the ropes a bit a few weeks ago. ”

    “they” refers to “sabers.” Although it is a little confusing just dropping in campbell like that.

  7. bandits1 September 4, 2013 6:07 pm

    “Again, like ‘Iolani, it’ll be tough sledding for the Cougars in the polls. It’ll be tougher, actually, for the Cougars. ‘Iolani will get their shots at the ILH’s D-I giants. Kaiser has a D-II slate the rest of the way.”

    I get that since Kaiser doesn’t get to “prove” themselves against any more D1 opponents like Iolani does, it’ll be harder for them to crack the Star Advertiser top 10. But what I don’t get is if Iolani loses their D1 match ups, it won’t really count against them too much as far as making the top 10 goes — right? It’s ridiculous to have regular season games that only count if you win and not so much if you lose just because it’s D1 vs D2.

    Both Kaiser and Iolani lost by a fair margin against their D1 opponents earlier this season, both smashed Kalani but the Cougars scored more and allowed fewer points than Iolani did, and so far only the Cougars have a quality win(vs Radford). Unless you’re basing this season’s top 10 lists on the past, why isn’t Kaiser the one ranked right next to/instead of Iolani?

  8. Paul Honda September 5, 2013 3:16 am

    bandits1, that’s a good point. If ‘Iolani and Kaiser have just one loss each, to D-I teams in the Top 10 (Leilehua, Campbell), why isn’t Kaiser there, too (like ‘Iolani)?

    For me, after seeing both Kaiser and ‘Iolani play D-I teams, ‘Iolani was the much more competitive team. The Raiders led Leilehua 21-14 in the first half before losing. When the Cougars played Campbell, they trailed all the way and the offense could barely move the ball.

    It’s not like I thought it out this far when I voted over the weekend. But if you want an explanation, that’s as close as it gets. It’ll always be more art than science. I’d be interested to see what your ballot would look like.

  9. bandits1 September 5, 2013 11:30 am

    Paul, you’re exactly right that Top 10/20/25/whatever polls are more art than science — it’s very much subjectivity and guessing unless all the teams involved have actually played each other head-to-head.

    Being that these top 10s are at least partially subjective, in my mind they should be ranked in order of who could beat who in a five-game series. Sure anybody can beat anybody else in a one-shot deal(Villanova over Georgetown, 1985), but could they beat them in a series? I say no D2 team, including Iolani, could beat any top 10 D1 team in a five-game series, thus I’d be hard pressed to include a D2 team on a top 10 poll.

    That said, here is what I posted on another local website with a couple of adjustments:

    1) Kamehameha
    2) Leilehua
    3) Punahou
    4) St Louis
    5) Mililani
    6) Kahuku
    7) Campbell
    8) Waianae
    9) McKinley
    10) Kapolei

    …I originally had Campbell at #6 and Kahuku at #7, and McKinley at #8 and Waianae at #9, but I flip-flopped those pairs here. We’ll see what happens this week and next.

  10. Paul Honda September 13, 2013 12:39 pm

    If the ILH’s big 3 take turns beating each other, these ballots/lists will be even funner to do…

  11. bandits1 September 17, 2013 10:44 am

    ^^^Not to mention the OIA Red West. Just as talented and much deeper than the ILH D1.

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