For the third time in nine years under head coach Eddie Klaneski, the Damien Monarchs are 3-0.
But unlike 2012 (Kalaheo, Kaimuki, Vacaville (Calif.) and 2015 (Aiea, Kauai, Hawaii Prep), the Monarchs are doing it against a Division I schedule.
Save of course, Lahainaluna, but the three-time defending champions in Division II had a 22-game winning streak before losing to Damien in overtime to start the year. Since then, the Monarchs have rolled past Radford and then knocked off defending Division I state champion Waipahu on the way to a perfect start.
This week, Damien jumps up to No. 8 in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser Football Top 10. It matches the highest ranking in school history. In 2003, the Monarchs were No. 8 in the Honolulu Advertiser Top 10 entering the Division II state title game that they lost to Aiea.
Damien will host St. Thomas More Collegiate, a team from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada, on Saturday at Skippa Diaz Stadium. Then comes Castle and Leilehua on the road before ILH rival ‘Iolani in the only regular-season meeting between the two schools vying for the league’s lone berth in the D-I state tournament.
“We still got a lot of work to do but we are slowly getting better,” Klaneski texted Monday. “We need to peak at the right time but winning helps keep our boys motivated so we can continue to get better each week. We have a tough road ahead.”
The only other team to improve in the rankings this week is Hilo, which is back in the Top 10 at No. 9. The Vikings, who have made the D-I state title game each of the last two seasons, are 2-0 with a 54-10 win over Kamehameha-Hawaii and a 56-0 shutout of Keaau.
The top three stayed the same by all 10 voters this week with Saint Louis, Mililani and Punahou. Campbell held onto the No. 4 spot but No. 5 Kahuku crept within four votes after its 32-0 shutout of Waianae.
Leilehua remains at No. 6 with Moanalua at No. 10 as the two teams will play Friday at Hugh Yoshida Stadium after last week’s game at Moanalua was canceled due to some of the lights not working.
Kamehameha is No. 7 after earning its first win of the season.
Kapolei, which received eight votes, dropped out of the Top 10 after a 44-13 loss to Punahou. Lahainaluna (two) and ‘Iolani (one) also received at least one votes.
The Crusaders, who moved up a spot to No. 10 in the country this week, have a showdown Friday with No. 15 Bishop Gorman (Nev.) in the Aloha Football Classic at Aloha Stadium. Hawaii’s No. 2-ranked team, Mililani, faces Nevada’s No. 2-ranked team, Liberty, at John Kauinana Stadium.
TOP 10 SCHEDULE
Friday, Aug. 30
>> No. 1 Saint Louis vs. Bishop Gorman (Nev.), at Aloha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
>> Liberty (Nev.) at No. 2 Mililani, 7 p.m.
>> No. 10 Moanalua at No. 6 Leilehua, 6 p.m.
>> No. 9 Hilo vs. Kealakehe, at Wong Stadium, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 31
>> No. 3 Punahou vs. Long Beach Poly (Calif.), at Moorpark H.S., 4 p.m. Hawaii time
>> No. 4 Campbell at No. 5 Kahuku, 6:30 p.m.
>> St. Thomas More Collegiate (Burnaby, British Columbia) vs. No. 8 Damien, at Skippa Diaz Stadium, 6 p.m.
Honolulu Star-Advertiser Top 10