Aiea will attempt
to derail Kapolei
Na Alii face the tough task
of stopping the Hurricanes' offense
Kapolei is aiming for its first championship. Aiea is focused on keeping the score low.
The Hurricanes (9-0) are in their second year of Oahu Interscholastic Association varsity competition and on the verge of taking the White Conference title.
Na Alii (7-2), known for their staunch defense, can spoil Kapolei's party by doing something no team has been able to this season: Stop the Hurricanes' potent offense.
The two teams tangle tomorrow night with the championship and the league's higher seed in the upcoming Division II state tournament for the taking.
"We have to play a near-perfect game to beat them," Aiea coach Wendell Say said. "They're solid all around and we have to be prepared in all areas.
"Oh yeah, we're hoping for it to be a defensive game. And I'm looking for our defense to step it up like they did all season. This (defense) is what it comes down to when you play a good team."
Na Alii's defense, however, had trouble in the first match-up between the two teams --Kapolei's 44-24 regular-season victory Oct. 10.
"But this is for the conference championship and that's all the more motivation," Say said. "There are a lot of motivating factors and one of them is the fact that we lost to them last time."
Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez isn't taking Aiea lightly.
"They've gotten a lot better since we played them last," he said. "Their defense is always flying around making plays. We'll have to be at our best."
The game could be decided by the multiple-threat players on both sides --slotback and quarterback Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada of Kapolei and Ben Ah Mook Sang of Aiea. Both are dangerous runners, throwers and receivers.
The list of major contributors is a long one for Kapolei. Bronson Pieper had two interceptions in a 41-8 playoff win over Kalaheo on Nov. 1, while brother Brandon Pieper had a touchdown and piled up the receiving yardage. Kaheaku-Enhada scored three rushing TDs on three carries, and brother Kainoa Enhada added two pickoffs.
Running back John Dela Rama and quarterback Jon Medeiros are among the Hurricanes' other offensive threats, while Warren Simanu, Roland Mason and Drake Kula are a few who bolster the defense.
Quarterback Kali Kuia guides Na Alii's offense, which also gets a boost from slotback Alden DeMello and running back Raymond Tauala.
Na Alii defensive back James Hadley had two interceptions in a 21-7 first-round playoff win over Radford on Nov. 1.
But Say doesn't like to single out his players.
"Overall, teamwise, we've been playing better and better and it's a team effort all the way," the coach said. "It's not about the individuals."
BIIF titles up for grabs: The last two state tournament berths will be settled on the Big Island this weekend.
Tomorrow's Hilo-Kealakehe winner hosts Farrington in a Division I state quarterfinal game Nov. 21.
Saturday's Konawaena-Hawaii Prep winner visits Lahainaluna for a Division II first-round game Nov. 22.