Yearly OIA test awaits ‘Iolani

'Iolani junior KJ Pascua has rushed for four touchdowns in two games. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.
‘Iolani junior KJ Pascua has rushed for four touchdowns in two games. Photo by Jay Metzger/Special to the Star-Advertiser.

Back in its Division II days, this was the week that would give ‘Iolani an idea of how it might fare against a Division I schedule.

This year, it’s a preview of things to come.

The Raiders haven’t been afraid to test themselves against good nonleague competition, playing 10 games against OIA Division I teams in the month of August dating back to 2006. ‘Iolani has gone 3-7 in those games, beating Waipahu, Waianae and Kapolei.

Aug. 17, 2013: Leilehua (L, 56-35)
Aug. 18, 2012: at Waipahu (W, 35-34)
Aug. 20, 2011: Farrington (L, 42-7)
Aug. 27, 2011: Waianae (W, 21-14)
Aug. 20, 2010: at Mililani (L, 43-23)
Aug. 21, 2009: at Castle (L, 42-21)
Aug. 29, 2009: Kapolei (W, 23-21)
Aug. 22, 2008: at Leilehua (L, 33-14)
Aug. 31, 2007: at Waianae (L, 22-19)
Aug. 25, 2006: at Mililani (L, 26-23)

With two weeks to rest between Saturday’s game and the ILH Division I opener against Punahou (which begins a string of at least seven games in seven weeks against either Punahou, Kamehameha or Saint Louis), the Raiders can afford to play yet another big, physical team in the Govs.

‘Iolani coach Wendell Look said after a Week 1 win against Kamehameha-Maui that his defense is the strength of his club. It will get tested against a Govs team that might throw the ball a little more than usual with three different quarterbacks vying for the starting job.

That could play right into ‘Iolani’s hands. The Raiders’ secondary, which features five defensive backs (seniors Ryan Yoshioka, Makoa Magnani, Kevin Matsuoka and juniors Helam Baldomero and Makana LaBoy), is a talented group. Senior Christian Naeole fills the ‘Iolani role perfectly as an undersized (5-9, 196) defensive linemen who makes plays. His blocked punt led to a touchdown return against KS-Maui.

Like Farrington, ‘Iolani has also platooned three quarterbacks so far this season, alternating every drive with a new QB. Could this be the week one or two wind up with the majority of reps?

It’s hard to say if these games against OIA D-I foes are a good indicator of things to come.

‘Iolani was blown out by 21 points or more in three of these games (2009, ’11, ’13). The 2009 team is considered one of the best ever at ‘Iolani. It went 8-1 in the ILH, beating both Kamehameha and Punahou. However, the 2013 team was the only squad not to win the Division II state championship between 2007 and 2014.

The difference now is this isn’t just a one-time deal. This is the reality for ‘Iolani the rest of this season. Its next eight games will all come against teams ranked in the top six in the state.

Let that sink in. Eight straight games against teams ranked in the top six.

Welcome to Division I.


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