HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Knights, Na Alii rested and ready
The Castle Knights had a week off, which is good news for players who have a few dings to heal up.
For Aiea, a bye last week was unintentional.
As the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red Conference playoffs neared, the McKinley Tigers forfeited their game to Na Alii because of inadvertent use of an ineligible player during the regular season.
Aiea (6-2, 4-2 Red West) and No. 3 Castle (6-2, 6-0 Red East) will match up in a battle that could take three hours to unwind. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. tomorrow at Kaiser High School stadium.
Both teams are highly proficient in run-and-shoot offenses that have veteran quarterbacks at the reins.
Castle senior Bryce Kalauokaaea guided the Knights offense to 317 yards per game during league play. The 6-foot-1 left-hander led the conference in passing yardage (1,189, or 198 yards per game) and fired a high of 13 touchdown passes. He threw just six interceptions.
Aiea ranked second in the Red West with 309 yards per game. Kali Kuia enjoyed a strong comeback season, passing for 1,192 yards and nine touchdowns. The nimble-footed senior was picked only five times.
Castle's receiver corps is a bit more familiar, but not necessarily a whole lot better than the crew from Aiea. Blaine Kobashigawa led the Red East with 24 receptions, averaging 11 yards per catch. Teammate Lihikai Domingo had a conference-high 359 receiving yards (16.3 per catch).
Scott Keiter-Charles is yet another target for Kalauokaaea. The two-sport standout averaged 17 yards per catch, hauling in four touchdowns in league play.
Three of Kuia's receivers finished among the top 6 in the Red West. Lofa Liilii, who averaged 20.4 yards per reception, caught 25 passes to share the lead. Josh Blakemore had 20 receptions (16 yards per catch) and Lahaina Olsen-Kuroda averaged 11.7 yards per reception.
If Castle has an edge offensively, it is with running back John Ufuti. The 197-pound senior ranked fourth in the Red East with just 45 yards per game, but his average per carry (8.2 yards) is eye-popping.
Early trip watch: It's only October, but a number of local players are being sought after by Division I universities.
Micah Kia, who recently returned to action after suffering an early-season fracture of a tibia, has scholarship offers from the following schools: Hawaii, UCLA, Boise State, Washington, New Mexico State, Utah, Colorado, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Oregon State, Oregon, Cal and San Diego State.
Pacific Islands Athletic Alliance director Doris Sullivan chuckled at Kia's lengthy list of choices.
"He'll need to pick five to take trips to," she said.
Radford linebacker Russell Wantowski has a trip and offer from New Mexico State, a new WAC school that has begun to make a stronger presence with local players.
Damien has two hot prospects in linemen Lolomana Mikaele and Michael Sipili, and running back Kealoha Pilares, who leads the Interscholastic League of Honolulu in rushing. Mikaele has been offered trips to Arizona and New Mexico State. The Aggies have already made the 6-2, 260-pounder a scholarship offer.
Sipili has a trip and scholarship offer from NMSU, as well as a trip offer to Boise State. Pilares has a trip offer from Boise State.
Kahuku defensive end B.J. Beatty has a trip and scholarship offer from NMSU.
On TV: The Kapolei vs. Kahuku football playoff game tomorrow at 7 p.m. will be shown live on OC-16.