HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL
Mountainous task ahead for Kapolei tomorrow
If there ever came a time for Hurricanes to move mountains, this would be it.
When the Kapolei Hurricanes arrive at Kahuku tomorrow, they will forget -- temporarily -- that they won the school's first Division I football playoff game last week.
In fact, the 'Canes will have to deal with human mountains, as in Kahuku's gargantuan offensive and defensive lines. Kapolei (4-5) is a long shot to get past third-ranked Kahuku (6-2), which has not lost at Carleton Weimer Field in recent history. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
Kapolei eliminated Kailua 35-14 in the opening round of the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red playoffs last week. Kahuku, which had a bye, is well-rested and ready to claim its fourth league title in a row. The Red Raiders may have to hit the field without two key blockers.
Benji Kemoeatu (6-foot-3, 315 pounds) and John Manu-Olevao (6-4, 320) may not suit up for the game.
"As for our health, we are healing, but we might be without those two," first-year coach Reggie Torres said. "They are big-time players, but we've been preparing the last two weeks without them, so hopefully we can put up a good battle."
Led by nose guard Kaniela Tuipulotu, Kahuku's defense will face an option attack that can win in just about any circumstance. Mason Koa, one of the top running quarterbacks in the state, is a master at scrambling and finding gaps. Winning ugly is still winning, and Koa is as durable as most running backs. He ran for 90 yards on just 10 carries in the win over Kailua.
Kahuku may not be at full strength, but facing the option has not been a huge problem in the past. When the teams met last year at Weimer Field, the Red Raiders won 47-7.
Here's a look at more games scheduled tomorrow:
No. 9 Leilehua (6-2) vs. No. 10. McKinley (5-3), Mililani High School field
-- Two seasons ago, a sophomore quarterback named Bryant Moniz had the golden touch. Moniz was the trigger for a hybrid passing attack that set the Red West on fire. The Mules shocked Kahuku in the state tournament, and the promise of a green-and-gold dynasty gave long-suffering fans reason to be optimistic.
That state runner-up season was followed by myriad injuries and a return to struggling. Moniz's junior season was cut short by a collarbone injury, though he returned in the postseason. He never got back to form as Leilehua fell to Farrington in the playoffs.
This year, Moniz has found his touch again. Aside from a midseason concussion, the 6-foot, 180-pound senior has been effective, and his receiver corps has developed. Moniz has thrown for 1,365 yards and 15 touchdowns with just six interceptions in eight games. His last two outings -- a combined 474 yards, six touchdowns and one pick at Aiea and Campbell -- may have been his best of the season.
The Tiger defense, meanwhile, can't focus only on Moniz. Mule running back Micah Abreu-Laybon has been a steady runner and pass catcher. McKinley's stalwart defense, talented but lacking depth, has rarely seen a back with that kind of versatility.
"Honestly, this is going to be one of the better offenses we'll play," McKinley coach Bobby Grey said. "Ability-wise, Farrington's right up there with them. They're definitely balanced. They like to throw the ball deep, but that 24 kid (Abreu-Laybon) is a good runner and he catches the ball well. And 84 (Martin Iosefo) is in the slot, and he's a big kid playing that slot."
McKinley has relied on its defense and highly physical play, but overcame the loss of quarterback Tilton Kaluna (injury) at midseason.
"He's only practiced the last two days and it's still bothering him," Grey said of Kaluna's non-throwing shoulder injury.
Keawe Kalama, who ran for 215 yards in McKinley's regular-season closer against Kalaheo, has been a workhorse. The versatility of Isaac Iuta, who now plays linebacker and quarterback, has been invaluable. Iuta, a senior who transferred in from Nanakuli, will also start at his old position, inside linebacker.
Ideally, the Tigers would love to get Kaluna back on the field. He makes sound decisions in the pocket and is crafty when he scrambles.
"He's been cleared to go. It would be nice to hold him out if we're fortunate enough to get by Leilehua," Grey said. "But it might be his last chance to suit up."
Hawaii Prep (2-7, 2-6) at Ka'u (0-8, 0-8) --
Ka Makani haven't won a game since a 16-6 squeaker over Kohala. They have yet to win on the road this season, and the host Trojans have remained determined. HPA kicker Jung Park is one of the few who have drilled three field goals in a single game this season. HPA visited Pahala Field last season and won 40-0.
Kohala (1-7, 1-7) vs. Waiakea (3-6, 3-5), Wong Stadium -- There is no guarantee in this matchup between Division I and Division II (Kohala) teams. The Cowboys fought off the Warriors in their battle last year, 20-14, but that game was at Kohala, a mere 79 miles away.
Pac-Three (0-7-1, 0-2-1) at Kamehameha-Maui (2-5-1, 0-2-1) (homecoming) --
The beauty of second chances is apparent in the MIL. First time around, Pac-3 was routed by Maui 34-7. Second time around? The Titans tied Maui 6-all last weekend. They're hoping for similar results against KS-Maui, which won the first meeting 34-7.
Pac-Three's Andrew Pacheco has run for 567 yards, the fourth-best total in the MIL.
King Kekaulike (6-2, 3-0) vs. No. 7 Baldwin (7-0-1, 2-0-1), War Memorial Stadium -- Na Alii were hot, with three wins in a row, before they met Baldwin in the first round. The Bears mauled King K 54-14 in Pukalani. This time, Na Alii are on another three-game win streak.
Na Alii's Shannon Kamakaokalani leads the MIL in rushing with 930 yards and 15 touchdowns. Baldwin's Jordan Helle has thrown for 1,626 yards and 18 touchdowns. The junior has been intercepted just four times.