HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Micah Mamiya (7) has the Crusaders at the top of the polls with his passing and running.
Crusaders, Buffanblu clash tomorrow
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When they played last season, Saint Louis and Punahou kept the Aloha Stadium scoreboard operator quite busy.
Punahou scored 35 points in one game and 27 in the other, and still lost to the eventual Interscholastic League of Honolulu champion Crusaders.
Now, Brett Kan is gone. So is Miah Ostrowski. Punahou's offense? Try 56, 28 and 28 points in three games for the state's second-ranked team.
Top-ranked Saint Louis is no offensive slouch, either.
The Crusaders are scoring in bunches, and quarterback Micah Mamiya is returning to the form that made him one of the most balanced quarterbacks in the state.
The teams meet tomorrow night in the second game of an ILH doubleheader.
The Oahu Interscholastic Association has some key matchups this weekend, as well. Fourth-ranked Mililani will host Aiea tomorrow night, and Campbell needs a win over Kapolei to strengthen its playoff hopes.
Campbell will host Kapolei on Saturday, a switch from the originally scheduled date (tomorrow).
The JV game will kick off at 11 a.m., followed by the varsity. Also on Saturday, No. 9 Kalaheo and Farrington square off in a key Red East showdown at Roosevelt. Both teams are 2-1 in league play.
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Ask Delbert Tengan if his Saint Louis Crusaders have a trick play or two in store for tomorrow's showdown with Punahou, and he simply laughs.
With or without a gadget play or two, both Tengan and Punahou coach Kale Ane are old-school, defense-first gurus at heart. That's why, even after last year's scoring fests in two matchups, defense is likely to prevail at Aloha Stadium.
Saint Louis is coming off a three-week break, but tomorrow's game probably won't be a rustic experience, not if Micah Mamiya can help it. The senior quarterback is 13-0 as a starter, but the burning memory of a last year's collarbone injury -- and his team's subsequent loss in the state title game -- won't go away.
Mamiya is stronger and bigger after a long offseason of training, and the Crusaders have approached this week with a quiet confidence.
"Our guys have been very businesslike. Even with the (long) break, our practices were very productive," coach Delbert Tengan said.
Here's a look at this weekend's matchups:
RICHARD WALKER/ RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Robby Toma (9) and Punahou bring a 3-0 record into tomorrow's game against unbeaten Saint Louis at Aloha Stadium, a game in which defense is expected to dominate.
No. 1 Saint Louis (3-0, 0-0) vs. No. 2 Punahou (3-0, 1-0) --
After two dominating games through the air, Punahou had some difficulty against a strong Kamehameha defense last week. Still, Punahou's strength up front allowed shifty Dalton Hilliard to run for 100 yards.
"Any time you face a ballclub like Punahou, you know, you're gonna have to win all phases of the game in order to be successful," Tengan said. "We need to be consistent in our execution. Punahou doesn't give up the big plays defensively. You have to move the chains and sustain the drives."
Tengan, a former defensive coordinator, took notes during last week's Punahou-Kamehameha game. Punahou's 6-foot-4 wideout, Kameron Steinhoff, has become a threat.
"Their offensive weapons, with Hilliard and Manti and Steinhoff, they have some big-play potential," Tengan said. Steinhoff, known more for his basketball skills until this year, had only one catch against Kamehameha, but was targeted by his quarterbacks a team-high 10 times.
Robbie Toma, Punahou's most dangerous deep threat, was targeted just six times. The Crusaders won't wait around to see if Toma and the rest of the receivers get a lot of looks.
"Any time you face a passing team and a quarterback who throws well, you gotta get him out of his rhythm, so we have to put pressure," Tengan said of Punahou's rotating quarterbacks, Kimo Makaula and Cayman Shutter. "If not with four (rushers), then with five, possibly six. You can't let him stand back there and pat the ball three times before he throws."
Last year, the Crusaders won a pair of shootouts with the Buffanblu: 38-35 and 33-27. This time, a defensive duel could be in store. Saint Louis' stellar defensive unit limited Kahuku, Kailua and Aiea to a combined 25 points.
Since the return of Tengan in 2004, Saint Louis is 4-3 against Punahou. All three of Punahou's wins since '04 occurred during the '05 season. Punahou went on to play for the state championship against Kahuku.
More than any of the recent Buffanblu squads, this year's team can line up in the I and grind out yardage and time.
Te'o most significant action will probably come on defense, where his speed could negate Mamiya's mobility. If Saint Louis can contain Te'o, Mamiya and his collection of tall, speedy receivers could continue their touchdown circus against the Buffanblu. Saint Louis is averaging nearly 37 points per game so far.
Iolani (2-2, 1-0) vs. Pac-Five (1-3, 0-1) -- The Wolfpack have a stout defensive unit led by highly-recruited defensive end Aaron Tipoti. They'll be well-tested by the Raiders, who may have the hottest quarterback in the state. Kela Marciel dissected Damien's defense last week for 341 yards on 20-for-27 passing.
Kailua (1-4, 1-2) at Castle (2-3, 2-1) -- The Knights were in position to compete toe to toe with Kalaheo last week and improve their unbeaten league record. Then two-way lineman Solomon Koehler was ejected in the first quarter, and the talented 300-pound senior has been suspended for the Kailua game. With so much parity in the OIA Red East, any advantage helps.
Aiea (3-2, 2-1) at No. 4 Mililani (4-1, 2-1) -- The Trojans are marching hard and can't afford to lose focus against an explosive Na Alii offense. Last week's big win at Kapolei revealed Mililani's ability to run on a solid defense. Mililani's Rustin Funakoshi ran wild out of an empty-backfield set last week, but Aiea could key on the nimble quarterback tomorrow.
Kapolei (3-1, 1-1) at Campbell (0-2-1, 0-2) -- A classic district rivalry game will kick off in the afternoon due to vandalism at the Sabers' field. Campbell is talented, and tough, with only a 7-point loss to Aiea and a tie at Kamehameha to show for their sweat. Because of the forfeit loss to Waianae, the Sabers haven't played in three weeks and should be quite hungry tomorrow. Christopher Fuga is a versatile, key component of Campbell's defense.
No. 7 Waianae (4-1, 2-1) at Radford (0-4, 0-2) -- Rams quarterback Epa Maika threw the ball 46 times last week for 282 yards, but Waianae's Wing-T offense is built to sustain drives and keep Maika's dangerous arm on the sideline. Searider quarterback Ben McQuown is battling through a shoulder injury.
Waialua (2-3, 1-3) at Kaiser (1-4, 1-3) --
The young Cougars showed drastic improvement with a stunning win over Anuenue last week. Waialua's Donovan Matas has returned to running back with success. He ran for 248 yards against Kalani last week.
Pearl City (2-1-1, 1-1) at Waipahu (2-2, 2-1) -- The Chargers are the only Division II team to stay close with front-running Kaimuki. This matchup pits two terrific White Conference running backs: Pearl City's Antoin DeWalt and Waipahu's Keo Palimoo.
Anuenue (3-2, 2-2) at Roosevelt (3-1, 3-1) -- After three distant road games, the Rough Riders are finally home. It won't be easy, though, because playoff hopeful Anuenue is coming off a surprising 17-0 loss to Kaiser.
Farrington (2-1-1, 2-1) vs. No. 9 Kalaheo (4-1, 2-1) --
The Mustangs are iron horses with seven two-way players. Farrington's seasoned linebackers and defensive backs remember last year's struggle with Kalaheo and crafty quarterback Cody vonAppen.
"I think on defense they can make it difficult," Kalaheo coach Chris Mellor said. If the Govs focus on vonAppen, he has two outstanding receivers in Bruce Andrews and Kao Malama-Custer.
Mellor would like to see the ball out of vonAppen's hands a bit more. "We tell him every day, even in practice. He sees a DB coming and a linebacker, and he goes right to 'em. He's a gamer," the coach said.
McKinley (0-4, 0-2) at No. 6 Kahuku (2-2, 2-0) -- The Red Raiders are improving each week, but the visiting Tigers bring fleet-footed playmakers in Tavita Woodward and Will Starks. Kahuku's bone-crushing ground attack amassed 348 rushing yards against Kalaheo.
Kalani (0-4, 0-4) at Nanakuli (1-4, 1-3) -- A close loss to Roosevelt last week the Golden Hawks' playoff hopes in jeopardy. Solo Sausi had a career-best 241 rushing yards in the loss.