[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
No. 4 Kamehameha takes on No. 1 Punahou
Three weeks have passed since Punahou's emerald evening.
"We've never had that long of a break. We took some time off and came back to refocus," longtime coach Kale Ane said of his No. 1-ranked team.
When the Buffanblu last played, they earned a 23-16 win over Eastlake (Wash.) in the Emerald City Classic. The win came with a price. Beating the No. 3 team in Washington state -- No. 1 according to SeattlePreps.com -- brought an ankle injury to All-State wide receiver Miah Ostrowski.
The low-ankle sprain has healed sufficiently for Ostrowski, who is also one of the top basketball players in the state.
"Miah's a tough guy. He'll play through the pain," Ane said.
The time away has helped Ostrowski heal, but the break makes the "new" season feel surreal. The Buffanblu will be the last of the Interscholastic League of Honolulu programs to finally begin conference play tomorrow.
It won't be simple or easy for No. 1-ranked and defending league champion Punahou, not in this year's ILH. The Buffanblu start with No. 4 Kamehameha, a team that lost its ILH opener to Saint Louis last week. The Warriors (4-1 overall) are a team backed into a corner, and that makes them dangerous.
"Kamehameha is aggressive, athletic, smart and fast," said Ane, a former NFL center. "You have to read them quickly."
Punahou quarterback Brett Kan, now a senior, has seen all kinds of challenges in wins over some of the top defenses in the state.
"Kahuku is very good, and Waianae has a tremendous linebacker," Ane said of George Kauwalu. "Eastlake is well coached. Our team is young, but I like the way they've handled adversity. The chemistry has been real nice."
Here's a look at tomorrow's other matchups:
Pac-Five vs. No. 8 Iolani
-- A week ago, the Wolfpack were in position to seize momentum in the ILH Division II race. Tomorrow, they'll need a win just to avoid falling back too far. Iolani had a rare weekend off and will be fully rested for this game. The last time they met the 'Pack, Kiran Kepoo fired four touchdown passes in a 42-0 win.
Ryan Dung, Iolani's new starting quarterback, has been efficient in leading the Raiders to a 2-1-1 record (0-0-1 ILH). It remains to be seen, though, if the run-and-shoot will have the kind of success Damien did last week. The Monarchs ran for 193 yards against the Wolfpack defense.
OIA RED EAST
No. 5 Farrington vs. Kalaheo, Kailua field
-- On one hand, the Mustangs are 0-3 since moving up to the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East. On the other, they came extremely close to pulling out a win last week against Moanalua. There's little time for remorse, though, since Farrington awaits.
No. 2 Kahuku vs. McKinley, Roosevelt Stadium -- The Red Raiders (2-1, 0-0) have been idle for two weeks since their last game vs. Kalaheo. Kaniela Tuipulotu, one of the most widely recruited players in the state, is expected to be ready. The 6-foot-1, 290-pound defensive tackle has healed up from ankle and Achilles' heel injuries. McKinley (2-2, 1-1) is coming off an uplifting 12-9 win over Castle.
Waipahu at Pearl City
-- The Chargers are 3-0-1 (2-0-1), but looks can be deceiving. They barely got past Anuenue in a game that didn't count in the standings a month ago, and Kaimuki pushed to the end in a 29-all tie last week. Keo Palimo'o will possibly be the toughest running back to face Pearl City thus far. Waipahu (3-0 OIA White), which allows just 9.3 points per game, has a chance to take control of the conference.
Nanakuli vs. Kalani, Kaiser Stadium -- The bad news for the Golden Hawks is that they're winless so far in OIA White action. The good news is, Kalani is looking for its first win, too.
Roosevelt vs. Anuenue, Moanalua field -- A spiraling football will be airborne in the Moanalua sky when these two run-and-shoot offenses meet. Roosevelt quarterback Lowen Kahooilihala has taken command in recent weeks. Last week, he threw for 251 yards without an interception in a 25-0 win over Nanakuli. Anuenue quarterback Ka'ehukai Nauka, without the benefit of a productive running game, struggled against Kaiser last week.
Kohala at Hawaii Prep
-- The afternoon sun isn't the only thing Ka Makani are looking up at these days. HPA (1-2 BIIF) bounced back from a narrow loss at Honokaa to upset Hilo last week. Kohala (1-2 BIIF) is coming off a rough blowout home loss to Konawaena. In a league where three of the six Division II teams qualify for the playoffs, every win is invaluable.
Hilo at Honokaa -- The Vikings (1-2 BIIF) are on a two-game skid and enter the domain of the Dragons, one of the most hostile environments in the league. Honokaa won't be in a good mood after a one-sided loss at Kealakehe.
Kamehameha-Maui vs. Maui, War Memorial Stadium -- The last time these teams met, the Warriors controlled the second half en route to a 26-6 win. Keahi Raikes, who threw for 154 yards and directed a 365-yard offense in that game, is back for Division II KS-Maui (1-3). Maui's Jonathan Los Baños is the second-leading rusher in the MIL with 420 yards (105 per game).