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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.