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HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Interleague’s first week
A last-second reversal of fortune, followed immediately by an opportunity for another.
And when the clock finally hit :00 as a field-goal attempt drifted just wide of the goal post, the Kahuku Red Raiders celebrated a state football championship following a thrilling 27-26 victory over a heartbroken Saint Louis squad.
Not quite eight months later, Kahuku and Saint Louis return to Aloha Stadium for a rematch, although without nearly as much at stake.
A matchup between the defending champions from the Oahu Interscholastic Association and Interscholastic League of Honolulu on Saturday highlights the first weekend of interleague play.
Oahu's high-school leagues agreed on the interleague setup last spring and although the games don't count in the standings, they make for some interesting pairings.
"From a fan's standpoint, it's a great thing because I know a lot of football fans in Hawaii look for good matchups," Saint Louis coach Delbert Tengan said. "It's like a Florida State playing a Miami early in the season."
The Red Raiders and Crusaders play in the second game of an interleague doubleheader at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Kailua and Kamehameha, the OIA and ILH runners-up last year, play in the first game at 4 p.m.
The interleague schedule opens tomorrow with three games. Punahou plays Farrington at Kunuiakea Stadium on the Kamehameha Schools campus. Castle plays Damien at Kailua's field and Pac-Five faces Kaimuki at Kaiser. All three start at 7:30 p.m.
Interleague play continues next week with the ILH teams playing schools from the OIA Red West.
"The public wanted something like this, also to help generate more interest and revenue we think this will be a plus-plus situation," OIA executive secretary Dwight Toyama said. "And I'm sure it's going to improve our programs in both leagues.
"It'll bring back some old rivalries and old traditions and start new ones."
This weekend also marks the beginning of regular-season action in the OIA Red West, OIA White and Maui Interscholastic League.
Defending Red West champion Mililani plays Aiea, the reigning state Division II champ, tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Mililani. On Maui, Baldwin begins defense of its MIL title at King Kekaulike on Saturday.
Kahuku enters Saturday's game with a three-game winning streak against Saint Louis, including last year's memorable Division I final. The Red Raiders rallied from a 23-7 deficit and scored with 19 seconds left to take the lead. But the outcome wasn't decided until a Saint Louis field-goal attempt went wide as time expired.
Although the Saint Louis-Kahuku rivalry grabs the attention of fans, the teams approach this week's game still in preseason mode.
"I don't know if the quality of play will be as good as people normally envision it," said Tengan, who led Saint Louis to the 2002 state title and returns as the Crusaders' coach after a year away from the post.
"There are so many things that haven't been put in offensively and defensively because it's so early. For us, we're not going to be even close to midseason form, let alone postseason form.
"I haven't seen a banner up in our gym for a preseason game yet. They only put banners up for state championships, that's why I don't think it's that important."
The early-season rust showed in Kahuku's 27-8 loss to Skyline (Utah) in Salt Lake City last Saturday. The Red Raiders fumbled on their first four possessions, losing three. In all, the Red Raiders turned the ball over eight times. But Kahuku coach Siuaki Livai was able to find a silver lining.
"The positive thing is we know exactly what we have, the good and the bad," Livai said.
Saint Louis opened the season with a 62-7 win at Nanakuli last Friday. Stanley Nihipali threw four touchdown passes for a young Crusaders squad. Saint Louis returns just three starters; one of them -- defensive lineman Tyson Alualu -- won't play until the ILH schedule starts next month due to a foot injury.
On the tube: Oceanic Cable begins its coverage of high school football by televising the Aiea-Mililani matchup tomorrow night from Mililani. Saturday's interleague doubleheader at Aloha Stadium games will be televised on a pay-per-view basis. For details, call 625-8100.
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