HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Waianae happy to be back home for Kapolei game
Modern technology is a good thing.
They know the power of the airwaves at Waianae, and that's a good thing for Seariders fans who would love to see their team win the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red West crown.
A major schedule change, due to OC 16, has switched the dates of two key matchups. The showdown between old arch rivals Mililani and Leilehua, originally set for tomorrow, will be played tonight at Hugh Yoshida Stadium.
The originally scheduled TV game between Kapolei and Waianae has been flip-flopped. Instead of playing tonight at Mililani's field for a TV audience, the ninth- and 10th-ranked teams in the Star-Bulletin Football Top 10 will kick off at Raymond Torii Field on the Waianae campus.
"Oh, once I heard we were back playing at Waianae, I was happier," Seariders coach Daniel Matsumoto confessed. "It's good to play at home. Chee whiz."
Kapolei, 3-1 in league play, needs a win to stay in close range to front-runner Mililani. The Hurricanes (4-2 overall) lost 36-31 to the Trojans last week.
With Waianae having its best start in years (4-1, 2-1 OIA Red West), Matsumoto didn't mind being switched out of the televised slot.
"We have good support from our fans, so it's always good to play at home. Plus, we hate catching the bus. It's 45 minutes to Mililani if there's no traffic," he said. "I'll take a home game any time."
On the ground, the Seariders churn out 205 yards per game. They spread the ball around; leading rushers Darius Fuller and Curtis Jones are averaging less than 43 yards per game each. Quarterback Henry Keomalu's accuracy (55 percent) and relatively low interception rate are key factors.
The run-by-committee success has benefited Waianae's defense. The Seariders rank second in the Red West in total defense with just 191 yards per game in league play.
Though Waianae upset Saint Louis early in nonconference play, Kapolei presents a multitude of concerns. Hurricanes quarterback Brad Padayao is averaging 213 yards per game in the air at a 59-percent clip (63 of 106). The senior leads the Red West with 11 touchdown passes.
The shifty two-sport standout also ranks third in rushing with 287 yards (7.6 per carry). If Waianae is better this year, so is Kapolei.
Last year's Hurricanes defeated Waianae 20-10.
"I usually try to forget those games," Matsumoto said. "This year, they look so explosive. They're quick-scoring in all facets of the offense. I don't think we're going to face anybody like (Padayao). He's a guy that we need to key on. He can run the ball, this kid."
Preparing for Kapolei means being aware of the Santiago brothers, Jon and Aaron. The former has caught 19 passes for 422 yards and four scores. Aaron Santiago has just 11 receptions, but is second only to his brother in yards per catch at 20.5.
When defenses spread out to keep up with Padayao and the Santiagos, running back Radford Raquedan has prospered. The bullish runner is averaging 9 yards per carry and is second in the Red West with 72 yards per game.
"They do a lot of things well. They're a well-balanced team. It's been tough splitting time between the both," Matsumoto said. "I hope it is a low-scoring game for our sakes. Our defense gotta step it up."
In the Interscholastic League of Honolulu, a classic battle of David and Goliath kicks off tomorrow when Kamehameha's power ground game clashes with the finesse of Iolani.
Third-ranked Iolani has vanquished all Hawaii foes so far this season. At 5-1, the Raiders' only loss came against Washington state power Capital in Tacoma. Iolani is 2-0 in league play, and despite being a Division II team, has a shot at the ILH overall title.
Kamehameha dropped to No. 4 after a tough loss to Saint Louis last week. The Warriors (5-2 overall) are 1-1 in D-I play. Since all of the ILH's D-I teams play D-II opponents only once, Iolani is an X factor in the schedule.
Only one berth is allotted to the ILH for the Division I state tournament. Kamehameha is tied with Punahou and Saint Louis in the standings.
Iolani's highest-ranked foe so far this season, aside from Capital, was Castle. Iolani scored 35 points in the first quarter en route to a victory, though the Knights were still finding their footing with personnel at the time.
Going back to last season, Iolani's most crucial ILH game was the season finale against Punahou. A win would have set Iolani up for a title game. Instead, the Raiders lost a close battle.
"This is different. It's still early," Iolani coach Wendell Look said. "A win won't put us in control. The league is so tough, every week is a battle."
Kamehameha lost two outstanding cornerbacks to graduation, but Look is still concerned. "You can get away with having inexperienced corners if your front seven is outstanding, and theirs is. With (Gerritt) Vincent and (Mana) Lolotai covering the field, that's scary."
Equally dangerous is Iolani's prolific run-and-shoot attack behind quarterback Kiran Kepo'o. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound senior has thrown for 476 yards on 75-percent accuracy through two ILH games. Iolani's arsenal of elusive playmakers, from running back Mike Hirokawa to wide receiver Kekai Kealoha, gives the proverbial David a chance.
That's why Kamehameha coach Doss Tannehill sees Iolani as Division II in name only.
"I know Doss doesn't think we're a Division I team, but we are, size-wise," Look said. "Kamehameha's plan is to pound it on us and maul us, but if I were them, I'd do the same."