Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, September 20, 2001


Kamehameha, Pac-Five
in ILH openers, finally

By Jason Kaneshiro

Kamehameha and Pac-Five may literally have to dust off their game uniforms when they suit up this weekend.

While some public school football teams will be hitting the halfway point of their seasons, the Warriors and Wolfpack will play their Interscholastic League of Honolulu openers Saturday at Aloha Stadium.

Pac-Five faces Damien at 4:45 p.m. in the first game of an ILH doubleheader. Kamehameha plays Punahou in the second game at 7:30.

The Warriors and Wolfpack last played Sept. 1 in preseason games on the Big Island. Three weeks later, the teams are rested and champing at the bit to start their seasons.

"For the kids, I know they're tired of hitting each other and they'd like to do it against somebody else," said Kamehameha coach Kanani Souza.

Pac-Five and Kamehameha had byes on the opening week of the ILH season. When last week's games were postponed due to the terrorist attacks on the East Coast, the teams had their openers pushed back another week.

"It's like we're starting the season all over again," Souza said. "The preseason is forgotten. You just don't know where you are because you haven't played anyone."

For Pac-Five, the break allowed several players to recover from preseason injuries. Quarterback McShane Dator, who missed the preseason with an injury to his non-throwing hand, used the break to regain his timing. The only player who will be sidelined this week is slotback Waikoloa Noa, who suffered a knee injury in a preseason game against Dana Hills (Calif.) on Aug. 25.

But with three weeks between games, keeping the players sharp has been a challenge for the coaching staff.

"It's difficult to maintain the focus and momentum in practice when you have a long break like this," said Pac-Five coach Don Botelho. "You cut down on the length of practice. Make it a little shorter, a little more upbeat. But it has been a long three weeks for us."

Kamehameha will take on a Punahou team that lost to St. Louis 25-16 in its last game Sept. 7. The Buffanblu defense forced seven turnovers and scored two touchdowns against the Crusaders. Punahou's upset attempt was hampered by several dropped passes, but Buffanblu coach Kale Ane said the overall effort aided the players' confidence.

"I think it's a little boost," Ane said. "I think they were disappointed we weren't able to get it done, but they were proud that they battled the whole way."

Pac-Five faces a young Damien squad that struggled in a 48-16 loss to Iolani in its opener. Sophomore quarterback Ranson DeCosta passed for 103 yards and a touchdown and averaged 8.5 yards per rush in his varsity debut for the Monarchs.

In the Oahu Interscholastic Association, all eyes will be on tomorrow night's Red Conference tilt between Kahuku and Castle at Aloha Stadium. Both teams enter the contest with 3-0 records, and the Red Raiders are protecting a 13-game winning streak.

In wins over Mililani, Waianae and McKinley, Castle proved its finesse attack can move the ball against bigger opponents. But the key will be whether the Knights' defense, ranked last in the conference, can contain an explosive Kahuku offense led by quarterback Inoke Funaki, running back Mulivai Pula and receiver Loga Fonoimoana.

Kailua puts its 2-0 record on the line tomorrow against Mililani at the Trojans' field. Kailua beat Waianae 27-7 in its last outing Sept. 8. Mililani gave Kahuku a battle before the Red Raider offense exploded in the second half to spark a 34-19 win Sept. 7.

This weekend will also impact the OIA White Conference title chase.

Aiea hosts Kalaheo in its homecoming game tomorrow. Na Alii sit atop the conference at 3-0 while the Mustangs are 2-0.

Aiea quarterback Lole Laolagi, who has eight touchdown passes this season, will face the conference's top defense. Kalaheo has surrendered just six points this season and has held opponents to an average of 111 yards per game.

Another key battle pits Nanakuli (3-0) against Waipahu (2-1) on Saturday night.

In three games, Nanakuli's Ikaika Asinsin and Rusty Lawson have combined to score 13 touchdowns. Waipahu running back Andrew Hale is the conference's leading rusher, averaging 100 yards per game.

Undefeated Roosevelt (3-0) has a bye this week.

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