Before Kahuku and Mililani play for the OIA Division I championship, Waianae and Campbell meet in a game of survival.
The Seariders and Sabers were on the short end of lopsided semifinal games on Friday at Aloha Stadium and have two weeks to prepare for their matchup for the OIA’s third and final spot in the open division of the HHSAA/First Hawaiian Bank State Football Championships.
“We have two more weeks, we’re going to prepare because we want play somebody again,” Campbell coach Darren Johnson said after the Sabers fell to Kahuku’s 42-7 in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. “We want to get our kids to finish right.”
Waianae coach Walter Young had much the same outlook after Mililani rolled to a 42-6 win in the nightcap.
“We’ll go back home and regroup and get ready for the next game,” Young said.
The OIA third-place game between the Seariders (6-4) and Sabers (7-4) precedes the Kahuku-Mililani title game on Nov. 4 at Aloha Stadium.
After an 0-3 start, including losses to Saint Louis and Kahuku, Waianae picked up its first win of the season with a 27-14 OIA Blue victory over Campbell back on Aug. 25 at Raymond Torii Field.
Waianae’s Kanai Mauga scored on both sides of the ball — on a fumble return and a 1-yard run — to help ignite a six-game winning streak that elevated the Seariders to second in the division and into the OIA semifinals.
Campbell went 5-1 after dropping the regular-season meeting with Waianae, the lone defeat a 45-6 loss to Kahuku on Sept. 29 to close the regular season.
The Sabers’ rematch with the Red Raiders on Friday went much the same way as the first meeting, with Kahuku’s pressure stifling the Campbell offense and coming up with three interceptions in the second half to fuel the rout.
“Turnovers hurt us again and I think we died out on defense because we were on the field too much,” Johnson said. “We’ve got two weeks to fix up everything and do it again.”
Johnson was on the other side as a member of the Kahuku coaching staff in years past, and experiences such as Friday’s could be part of the process in building the Campbell program.
“To beat teams like that we gotta get bigger and stronger,” said Johnson, in his first season at Campbell. “(The Sabers) gotta get here to understand how to beat them and if you don’t play them you’ll never beat them.”
Among Johnson’s objectives toward that end is to “get our athletes in Ewa to stay home and let them build their own memories and let them build their own tradition.”
In more immediate terms, earning a place in the four-team open division state tournament is the most pressing priority for both teams.
Waianae qualified for the inaugural six-team open division bracket last year and opened with a win over Farrington before falling to eventual champion Saint Louis in the semifinals.
Campbell played in the Division I tournament and blew past Waiakea in the first round then lost to ‘Iolani in the semifinals.