RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Leilehua's Allan Macam, left, tried to elude Mililani's Moshi Mabry in a September game. The Mules play Castle in the OIA Red playoffs tomorrow. The Trojans have a bye.
Undefeated Baldwin and Lahainaluna play for bragging rights only
The most intriguing game of the week may be the one involving two teams in different classifications. When Baldwin and Lahainaluna meet tomorrow night, they won't even be playing with the Maui Interscholastic League title in mind. That's because Baldwin is in Division I, Lahainaluna is in D-II, and the MIL doesn't recognize an "overall" champion.
That matters not. The two teams are unbeaten in league play, and the entire island has been looking forward to this clash of titans.
"This game is for bragging rights, basically," longtime Lahainaluna coach Bobby Watson said.
Here's a look at this game and more matchups this weekend:
No. 7 Lahainaluna (6-0, 4-0) vs. No. 5 Baldwin (5-1, 4-0), War Memorial Stadium
Baldwin has ruled D-I on Maui for several years, but Lahainaluna actually won the league title in 2004, then went on to upset Mililani in the first round of the state tournament. Then D-II arrived statewide, and the Lunas went into that classification. That hasn't tarnished Lahainaluna's rep, though.
Voters in the Star-Bulletin Football Top 10 have the unbeaten Lunas ranked No. 7. Lahainaluna has outscored opponents 216-35.
Baldwin, ranked fifth in the Top 10, counts on the prolific passing touch of senior Jordan Helle.
"Helle is a poised quarterback. He's got a couple of good receivers who can catch and make things happen," Watson said. "That's something we've got to work on: get to him and take away the quick passes."
The Bears are unbeaten in MIL play despite the absence of All-State wide receiver Chase Nakamura (injury) and linebacker Kyle Kaaihue-Kaimiola (transferred). Nakamura has been held out so far, but the Lunas expect him to suit up tomorrow.
The Bears have probably learned immensely from a nonconference loss to San Clemente (Calif.)
"People rush hard and (Baldwin) has a thousand screens. Hopefully, we can do a good job and hold them down, and hopefully, our offense can get some scores on them. That's been our problem the past few years," Watson said.
Lahainaluna's physical defense is sparked by defensive ends Simione Vehikite and Jason Manning, tackle Joseph Lai and linebacker Cole Loewen.
Lunas ironman Lake Casco is healing up from a high ankle sprain.
"He's working on it right now, running on it," Watson said of the running back/free safety. "But he cannot cut on it too much."
Maui (0-6, 0-4) at King Kekaulike (1-5, 1-3)
It was the opening of King K in Upcountry Maui that siphoned off a pipeline of beefy linemen to Maui High, and the Sabers have yet to recapture their former glory. Na Alii are rebuilding this season after winning the state D-II crown last year.
Castle (3-5, 3-3) vs. Leilehua (4-4, 3-3), OIA playoff at John Kauinana Stadium
The Knights and Mules have not played since 2004, when Leilehua won a 14-10 playoff game. Castle's run-and-shoot offense could flourish if the field stays dry. Leilehua likes a dry field, too, but is accustomed to winning in muddy conditions. The Mules gave up just 10.8 points per game in conference play, and quarterback Kaipo Kea passed for a season-high 257 yards last week against Campbell.
Waipahu (6-2, 6-1) at Kaiser (3-5, 3-4)
The Marauders have won five of the last six meetings, but the teams battled to a 13-all tie in their most recent matchup -- almost exactly a year prior to tomorrow's game. Waipahu's Keo Palimoo rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns in last week's win over Anuenue.
Roosevelt (5-2, 5-2) at Pearl City (4-2-1, 4-2)
Last year, the teams met for the first time since 2002, and Roosevelt won, 33-25. This year's matchup pits rushing standouts Ranson Tuitama of Roosevelt and Antoin DeWalt of Pearl City.
Kapaa (2-5, 0-4) at Kauai (5-1, 3-1)
The Warriors have been competitive (2-1 nonconference), but struggle with Kauai. The four-time defending league champion Red Raiders have won two times already against Kapaa by a combined 85-7.
Kamehameha-Hawaii (5-3, 5-1) at Ka'u (0-5, 0-5)
The Warriors are on a big roll. Running back Kolten Wong gives them a steady force on the ground.
Kealakehe (8-0, 7-0) at Hilo (2-6, 2-4)
When they last met four weeks ago, backup Keoki Limahai filled in for Kawai Kanuha and amassed 279 total yards in a 30-6 win. Waveriders starting quarterback Kawai Kanuha threw for a career-high 478 yards and four touchdowns last week against Konawaena.
Kailua (3-5, 3-3) at Kapolei (5-3, 3-3), OIA playoffs
The Hurricanes could be a bit angry after losing at Waianae last week, but the Surfriders had time off to study their foes. Kapolei has won the last two meetings, including last season's 35-14 playoff battle. Mason Koa ran for 90 yards and passed for 133 more in the win.
Nanakuli (2-6, 2-5) at Waialua (2-5, 1-5)
Both teams are out of the playoff picture, but last year's game ended in a 14-all tie, which may provide a little extra intensity this weekend.
Kalani (0-7, 0-7) vs. Kaimuki (7-1, 7-0) at Kaiser Stadium
The Bulldogs, who have a win over current runner-up Waipahu, already have the top seed sewn up.
Damien (2-4-1, 1-3) at No. 1 Saint Louis (7-0, 4-0), Aloha Stadium
Monarchs running back Kama Bailey continues to put up enormous rushing stats, but the Crusaders defense has permitted just 11 points per game.
Pac-Five (1-6, 0-4) vs. No. 10 Iolani (4-3, 3-1), Aloha Stadium
The last time these teams met, the Wolfpack had a 12-0 lead in the second quarter before the Raiders took command. Despite three picks, Kela Marciel threw for 236 yards and two touchdowns to rally Iolani.
No. 3 Punahou (4-2, 2-2) vs. No. 6 Kamehameha (3-2-1, 2-2), Aloha Stadium
Both teams are still in title contention, but a loss would eliminate any remaining chance. Five weeks ago, Kamehameha's tough defense limited Punahou to just 140 total passing yards, but Buffanblu running back Dalton Hilliard ran for 100 yards.
Kamehameha-Maui (2-3, 2-2) vs. Trojans (2-4, 1-3), War Memorial Stadium
The Trojans are smoking hot after last week's rout of Maui. A win tonight would create a tie in the D-II standings.
Honokaa (1-6, 1-5) at Keaau (4-3, 4-2)
The Cougars' win streak came to an end against Waiakea last week. Honokaa, meanwhile, has been basking in the joy of its first win last week (against Hilo).
Kohala (3-5, 3-4) at Konawaena (3-6, 3-4)
Positioning for the D-II playoffs is key, particularly because of long road trips. The last time they met, the Cowboys went to Julian Yates Field and pulled off a 14-7 win, their first at Kona in 25 years.
To nominate ...
To nominate an athlete of the week, contact the Star-Bulletin Sports Department by 11 p.m. Sunday: