OIA White playoff race heats up

Kaiser's Thomas Buntenbah-Leong ran through Radford's defense on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. (Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser)
Kaiser’s Thomas Buntenbah-Leong ran through Radford’s defense on Friday, Aug. 30, 2013. (Bruce Asato / Star-Advertiser)

I had the opportunity to watch four contenders for the Oahu Interscholastic Association White Division title over the weekend, and walked off the Kailua field Saturday night with a distinct sense of the league’s pecking order.

Kaiser routed Radford in every aspect for a 48-7 result on Friday night and Kalani handed Kalaheo its first league loss, 34-17 on Saturday.

The standings remain close. Kaiser leads at 2-0, and four other teams — Kalani, Kalaheo, Radford and Nanakuli — are right behind at 2-1.

The top four in the nine-team division qualify for the league playoffs, making each regular-season game matter immensely (compared to the Red, where nearly every team makes the playoffs).

Kaiser has to be the distinct favorite at this point if Kahoalii Karratti plays as efficiently as he did on Friday (12-for-15 passing) and bruising back Fitou Fisiiahi stays healthy. Soccer player Thomas Buntenbah-Leong brings some serious speed in the return game, and if he breaks through the secondary as a runner or receiver on offense, he’s as good as gone. The Cougars were just in another league (yes, they probably belong in the Red) than Radford, which averaged more than 50 points per game going into the contest. You do have to take into account that Kaiser had an extra bye week to prepare.

Radford can still bounce back, but it will be tested this weekend in a pass-fest against Kalani, which is coming off back-to-back victories. Rams quarterback Cody Lui-Yuen can put up some prolific numbers, but he was erratic on Friday with near-constant pressure by the Cougars. When that happened, Radford’s whole offense broke down.

Kalani, the airborne engine that could, displayed some potency against Pearl City and Kalaheo the past two weeks with a 37-point scoring average. Noah Brum has a go-to target in Trevor Yamashita, who caught 11 balls for 114 yards against the Mustangs. Watch out for these guys — they could surprise someone in the playoffs.

Kalaheo has some weapons, most notably senior back Makena Johnston, who scored from 88 yards out against the Falcons. But the ‘Stangs clearly didn’t get him the ball enough this week, something that will have to be rectified if they want to be a serious threat to finish in the top four.

This coming weekend, Kaiser travels to Waialua, Radford and Kalani tangle at Kaiser, Kalaheo and Pearl City meet at Kailua. Roosevelt and Anuenue compete for their first league win.


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