Wins and losses are all that really matter to title contenders in the ILH, and if the names are removed, is there really much difference between the state’s No. 1 team (and defending champion) and the squad ranked No. 5?
Wins: Farrington (34-15), at Lahainaluna (34-10), Carson (33-10).
Wins: at Waianae (49-7), Baldwin (61-0).
Which team is which? Team A is Kamehameha, currently 3-0 and gaining momentum with each rousing victory. The struggles of a young team in ’16 are all but forgotten. The Warriors took down Farrington, ranked at the time (and returned to the Top 10 this week). Lahainaluna, another ranked team. Carson (Calif.), it could be agreed, is probably at a Top 10 level for Hawaii. Quality wins, wide margins of victory.
Team B, Saint Louis (2-0), has new starters at several key positions, including quarterback. Still powerful. Still guided by maestros, including the state’s winningest coach in history, Cal Lee.
So why are the teams four positions apart in the Star-Advertiser Top 10? That’s a topic for fans, not so much for coaches.
“Our job as a coaching staff and as players is to continue to build our culture and team, and become better and improve on a daily basis,” Kamehameha coach Abu Ma‘afala said. “That’s all we are focused on.”
“Everybody ranks teams and all that stuff, but the show starts on Friday,” Lee said. “The toughest and biggest competitor we’re going to face is ourselves, making ourselves better every day. We know who we’re going to play, but we have to compete. It’s very easy to get complacent.”
A hungry, cohesive Kamehameha squad is impossible to overlook.
“They’ve very good,” Lee said. “Abu is doing a great job. It shows on film that they have improved since their scrimmages and their first game. They’ve got a good offensive line, good people up front, and (Kanoa) Shannon is a good runner and a veteran. Their quarterback (Thomas Yam) can get the ball to their receivers and he can scramble.”
With a shifty and fast QB in Chevan Cordeiro, Saint Louis is no slouch either. And his agility plus passing accuracy have basically prepared the Crusader defense for what Kamehameha can do with Yam in and out of the pocket.
“It starts up front. We’ve got to hold the line of scrimmage, and that helps our linebackers as far as keying people. But if we get pushed back, we could be in trouble,” Lee said. “I think the line doesn’t get credit because the ‘backers get the plays.”
Saint Louis has one of the premier junior defensive linemen in the nation, Faatui Tuitele, in the trenches.
“Tui is a big strong guy, but agile enough to get to the quarterback. Michael Malepeai, Gino Quinones, those guys are the ones that nobody knows about,” Lee added. “You need 11 guys and everyone is vital.”