HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Waianae tries to bounce back at home vs. Punahou
Regular-season and nonconference games kick off tonight, but tomorrow's matchups may be even better.
Five Star-Bulletin Top-10 squads are in action from Raymond Torii Field in Waianae to Kunuiakea Stadium on Kapalama Heights.
For Waianae, the battle against No. 1 Punahou is a chance to bounce back from last week's loss to Farrington.
Perhaps more intriguing is Moanalua's early success. The Menehunes, matching their legendary name, moved up from the White Conference of the Oahu Interscholastic Association and into the rugged Red East. The departure of several key graduates left gaping holes for the undersized Menehunes.
In their first game against former Red East squad Roosevelt, Moanalua rolled to a surprising 41-0 win. That made a happy man of coach Arnold Martinez, but he's more satisfied with the direction of the Menehune program.
"We want to show our community and our school that we want to grow as a quality program. Part of that means playing in all the conferences," he said. "Moving up to the Red is a reward. This is what we want to do."
Moanalua had its share of success in the White after Martinez arrived four years ago, finishing second last season to Radford. The White Conference has become tougher, as well, just as the Menehunes get promoted to a brutally tough Division I schedule.
It begins tomorrow with a battle against resurgent Farrington.
"We're going to have growing pains because we are young," Martinez said. "We know we're the Davids against a bunch of Goliaths. The harder things in life are what make you grow."
Success is easily measured in wins and losses, but Martinez counts his victories before the Menehunes even put on helmets and pads.
"We really preach everything outside of football before football. Loving each other as a family, getting grades for our family, our teammates," he said. "For us, it's all about loving each other. We talk about it every day. The brotherhood is special."
Going up against bigger teams means more attention to detail.
"We don't talk about, 'Hey, kick that guy's butt in front of you.' We talk about using your technique, help that guy up and show him some love," Martinez said. "If guys mess up, don't make grades, they have the maturity to apologize to the other 105 (varsity and JV) guys."
The openness and communication aren't flukes. The coaching staff goes the extra mile to schedule offseason fun stuff like paintball battles. In the mysterious Red East, where so many teams are finding their identities, Moanalua gets a big test tomorrow -- a chance to prove doubters wrong all over again.
Here's a look at tomorrow's games:
» No. 1 Punahou at Waianae, 6 p.m. -- The Seariders are smarting after a 37-point loss to Farrington last week. Punahou, meanwhile, has a lethal passing attack that could duplicate what Farrington did. Getting to Buffanblu quarterback Brett Kan is a priority, but Waianae linebacker George Kauwalu has already lost two key teammates to offseason disciplinary action. Miah Ostrowski racked up 12 catches for 186 yards last week in a resounding, comeback win over Kahuku. However, his role as a decoy is nearly as valuable to Punahou's run-and-shoot attack.
» No. 3 Saint Louis vs. No. 7 Leilehua, Aloha Stadium, 6 p.m. -- Solomona Aigamaua and Manu Latu give the Crusaders defensive playmakers up front and in the secondary, but the unit will be tested severely. Bryant Moniz may be the best passer in Leilehua history, and a developing ground game gives the Mules balance. Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda said he isn't adverse to a pinball-machine score.
"I think both teams have guns with a lot of bullets, and the whole season to shoot it all, I hope," Tokuda said.
» No. 9 Aiea at No. 4 Kamehameha, 6 p.m. -- Aiea's Wendell Say and Kamehameha's Kanani Souza are among the most experienced coaches in the state, but new wrinkles may be in store when they meet tonight. Na Alii boast highly-recruited wide receiver Lofa Liilii, while the run-first Warriors may have a new look or two as a result of Souza's one-year stay at Oregon State.
Aiea will certainly throw the ball out of its run-and-shoot, while Souza makes no promises about change.
"You still gotta block and tackle," he said.
» Waimea vs. Hilo, Wong Stadium, 7 p.m. -- Kyle Linoz, a disciple of the Tommy Rita-Jon Kobayashi led dynasty of the '80s and '90s, is the new coach at Waimea. If the weather is wet, Hilo has a certain edge with its ground attack and physical defense.
» Kamehameha-Hawaii vs. Kapaa, Vidinha Stadium, 7 p.m. -- The Warriors posted their first win, 27-9, at Hawaii Prep since 2004. They play well against other leagues, but have struggled for years in the football-rich KIF. KS-Hawaii, meanwhile, is adjusting to life after its first graduating class.
» Kalaheo at Castle, 6 p.m. -- The Knights have their first regular-season home game in two years, but it won't be easy. With just five returning starters, coach Nelson Maeda's team is a work in progress. Kalaheo brings a veer offense borrowed by former De La Salle assistant coach Keith Miller. Both teams believe in ironman football, playing their best athletes on both sides of the ball.
» Moanalua vs. Farrington, Roosevelt Stadium, 6 p.m. -- Quarterback Jordan Monico and slotback Jarin Salvador-Atabay give the Menehunes speed, while linebacker Michael Garringan (5-8, 160) sparks the defensive unit. Farrington passer Elijah Filifili is off to a good start in the Govs' West Coast offense, but the defense may be the most underrated in the OIA.
» Pearl City vs. Nanakuli, Mililani Stadium, 6 p.m. -- A new staff at Pearl City, a new staff at Nanakuli, and their first league game is on TV. Pressure? Nah.
» Waialua at Waipahu, 6 p.m. -- The Bulldogs may have the second-best offense in all of Division II thanks to Caleb Fore, speedy receivers and an experienced, if undersized line.
» Kamehameha-Maui at Lahainaluna, 2 p.m. -- The Lunas are getting a taste for home games after years of driving to War Memorial Stadium. The Warriors are coming off a solid '05 season when they reached the semifinals of the D-II state tourney.
» Pac-3 at King Kekaulike, 7:30 p.m. -- The Titans came perilously close to shutting the program down a week ago, but are continuing on. King Kekaulike, meanwhile, is adjusting to a new staff following the retirement of longtime coach Dennis Dias.