HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Malosi Teo and the Kahuku Red Raiders have a tough test tomorrow, when they face Kapolei in the OIA playoffs.
Kapolei ready for rough atmosphere in Kahuku
Hurricane season is in full effect on the North Shore tomorrow night.
When Kapolei arrives at Weimer Field to battle No. 1-ranked Kahuku, the top offense in the Oahu Interscholastic Association will meet the top defense.
In another playoff battle tomorrow, Farrington visits Mililani, also at 7 p.m.
Saturday's playoff games include Aiea at Castle and Kailua at Waianae, both starting at 6 p.m.
Three games are slated for Interscholastic League of Honolulu play tomorrow. Iolani hosts Punahou at 3:15 p.m. The other two games will be at Kaiser High School stadium. Kamehameha meets Pac-Five at 4:45 p.m., followed by Saint Louis and Damien at 7:30.
Here's a look at tomorrow's key matchups.
Kapolei (5-3, 4-2 OIA) at No. 1 Kahuku (6-1, 5-1 OIA) -- The last time Kahuku's dominant defense met a run-and-shoot offense, the Red Raiders suffered their lone defeat at the hands of a quick, dangerous Castle squad.
Kapolei can be even more lethal. Brothers Jon and Aaron Santiago are supremely quick slotbacks. Quarterback Brad Padayao, meanwhile, has used his elusiveness to rank third in the Red West in rushing.
None of this means much, of course, especially since Kahuku may have the best home-field advantage in the OIA. Not only is Kapolei more than an hour's drive from Kahuku, the Red Raiders' 12th man is an immense factor.
They expect a crowd of about 5,000 for the game.
"It's a different kind of community. It's church-oriented, the fans there are what high school fans should be about," Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said.
The longtime coach does know about winning in Red Raider Land, though. During his successful tenure at Campbell, the Sabers won at Kahuku 24-0. "I don't know the last time Kahuku lost on their home field, but I believe it was in '96," he said, recalling standout Clifford Russell among others. "But that was a long time ago."
Kapolei's toughest road game to date was at Waianae, where a hearty crowd filled the bleachers at Torii Field. The Hurricanes were in the game until midway through the fourth quarter, and Waianae won in a blowout. Kapolei hasn't returned to the Top 10 since.
Still, the Hurricanes led the Red West with 397 total yards per game. Padayao, rushing for 52 yards per game (6.7 yards per carry), also leads the Red West in passing with 217 yards per game and 13 touchdowns. He completes 57 percent of his passes and has just six interceptions.
The senior has a 3.5 grade-point average and is drawing interest from Air Force, Hernandez noted.
Playing a tough foe on the road doesn't get any more challenging, however, than at Kahuku. Padayao will likely be up to the task, but he can't do it alone. If not for 16 dropped passes at Waianae, he would have completed 32 of 36 attempts, Hernandez said. Three of the drops would have been for touchdowns.
"We played really poorly. If that's our worst game and we got it out of our system, we're hopeful we can do well this Friday," Hernandez said.
Crowd size and intensity should not be a big factor, he added. "It's such a tough place to play. The good part about it is, our kids are pretty loose. They've got nothing to lose. Nobody expects us to win, and we're gonna let it fly by the seat of our pants," Hernandez said. "We're gonna let our offense cut loose and hopefully our defense can step up and we can give 'em a game."
Kahuku's defense, loaded with outstanding linemen and linebackers, is brutal against the run. The Red Raiders allowed just 98 total yards per game in Red East play, including just 17 yards per game rushing.
"Their front seven on defense is unreal," Hernandez said.
JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Radford Raquedan, left, and the Kapolei Hurricanes take on top-ranked Kahuku tomorrow.
Offensively, the Red Raiders ranked second among Red East teams in total offense (3-1 per game), but most of it came on the ground behind Kamuela Alisa.
"They have tremendous running backs, receivers, their O-line is strong. When they have a quarterback like (Inoke) Funaki, they're impossible to stop," Hernandez said of Kahuku's long-departed quarterback.
"But without a quarterback like that, they're more one-dimensional. But, even at that, they're tough to stop. If you can stop them and make them punt, that's phenomenal," he said.
Kapolei's defense is led by linebacker Po'okela Ahmad, but another 'backer has helped the Hurricanes' effort. Keola Tom, a 5-foot-10, 230-pounder, is leading Kapolei in initial hits from his middle linebacker spot. "As a senior, he's really stepped up. We're hoping that our guys step up," Hernandez said.
Farrington (4-5, 4-3 OIA) at No. 7 Mililani (6-2, 5-1 OIA) -- The Governors' state tournament hopes got a boost after last week's big win over Leilehua.
Now, they'll have to deal with a Trojan offense that is run-first. The teams have not met in two years. "It's a different year, but that (tape) helps a little bit. You've gotta prepare for their running game," Farrington coach Randall Okimoto said. Mililani ranked second in the Red West in rushing, led by Kekoa Perbera (83 yards per game). Jordan Torres ranked sixth in the Red West to give the Trojans a tough 1-2 combination.
"I think they're a very disciplined team with a lot of guys, a lot of depth. A lot of weapons. David Rivers is 6-4 at tight end and receiver. And 11 (Torres), 21 (Perbera), not to mention the offensive lineman who came back, the big boy," Okimoto said, referring to highly-recruited senior Micah Kia.
"They're a very well-coached team. I don't think they're No. 1 in the West for nothing," he added.
Farrington did some house-cleaning last week that may have hurt the team on paper, but on the field it led to the win over Leilehua.
Nine starters were out due to injuries grades and discipline. Okimoto solved the discipline issues. "I dismissed the guys who weren't taking the team philosophy and rules seriously, so that helped morale. I just wanted to make a stand with the team, and I think the team wanted the same," Okimoto said. "They showed it Friday night."
James Sagapolutele and Logovae Afuola return from injuries this week to bolster the offensive line. Defensive lineman John Sagapolutele, James' brother, will also be back.
"Finally, our offense is turning turnovers into points. Our defense has been doing their job for us all year, but finally, our offense got into sync and we're capable of playing the way we're playing," Okimoto said.
The Govs are pushing the limits in their quest for a state berth. Junior Elijah Lesu played at cornerback and wide receiver last week. Senior running back Kenneth Faumui, as usual, was up to par.
"He played a great game," Okimoto said. "Overall, we feel good. It's been up and down, so it's been hard for me, but hopefully, we've got the message across. Hopefully, we can keep it up.
No. 4 Punahou (6-2, 3-2 ILH) at No. 7 Iolani (6-3, 3-2 ILH) -- This ancient rivalry used to be a twice-a-year series. Now that it happens only once annually, the anticipation is even bigger.
Punahou certainly cannot afford another loss in the Division I race, not when only one state berth is available. Iolani, on the other hand, is ahead in the Division II battle.
"Iolani's a great team, well coached. Wendell (Look) does a great job," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "They're tenacious and disciplined."
Both teams are coming off tough losses. Iolani fell to Saint Louis, 35-3, last weekend.
"Saint Louis played great. They have their backs against the wall, so every game's a title game for them. It was a rainy, windy game, so that hurt Iolani's passing game," Ane said.
The same could be said of Punahou, which saw its run-and-shoot offense derailed by a furious Kamehameha defense and 35-mph gusts in Aloha Stadium.
"We need to win to keep our hopes alive. We had the opportunity to control our destiny and we didn't get it done. Our part of the puzzle is to win Friday," Ane said.
The rivalry has toned down somewhat off the field in recent years, but in competition, the two schools are among the state's best in many sports.
"We look at this as a major rivalry with lots of respect on both sides. We reminded our kids that every game Iolani's played in, they've battled back beginning with the Washington (Capital) game," Ane said. "We're expecting a battle.
Miah Ostrowski was hemmed in by Kamehameha's defense last week. The ILH's leading receiver had just three receptions for 26 yards while facing a multitude of obstacles at the line of scrimmage.
"They do that in basketball with him, and he knows that's gonna happen," Ane said. "He needs to bide his time, and when he has his opportunity, take advantage of it."