OIA WHITE CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
Kaimuki or Roosevelt will make history
Two teams that have never won an OIA football championship have a chance at history.
OIA White Championship
Who: Roosevelt (6-2-1) vs. Kaimuki (9-1)
When: 5 p.m. tomorrow
Where: Aloha Stadium
Regular-season champion Kaimuki and upstart Roosevelt will battle for the White crown tomorrow at 5 p.m. at Aloha Stadium.
The Bulldogs have won nine straight games against division foes, including a 34-13 victory over the Rough Riders this season.
"The kids have bought into our system and what the coaches bring to the table," first-year Bulldogs coach Darren Johnson said.
Johnson took over a team this season that had been 7-27-1 over the past four years, including a run of 19 consecutive losses between 2002 and '05.
The Bulldogs were the top scoring team in the conference this season, but the defense has been the biggest factor in their success.
Senior linebacker Maua Tuitele leads the unit that gets it done at all 11 positions on the field.
"It definitely is our strength," Johnson said. "We put up numbers on offense, but we live on our defense. They get a lot of takeaways and don't give up much."
They have only given up 10 points a game since surrendering 21 to Aiea in the season opener.
In the first meeting between the teams this season, Kaimuki allowed more than 250 yards of offense, but it only translated to 13 points.
"They bring a good offensive package to the table," Johnson said. "We have got to be able to stop their all-around game."
Roosevelt's duo of Lowen Kahooilihala and Justin Otaguro might be the top quarterback/receiver combo in the state. Otaguro has been over 100 yards in his last two games and is the guy Kahooilihala looks for on every key play.
Ranson Tuitama provides the balance on offense as the team's leading rusher.
"(Otaguro) will play a key role in getting first downs and establishing some ball control," Roosevelt coach Les Parilla said. "We still like to run with Ranson and will try to move the chains and get points on each drive."
Tuitama's job has been made easier thanks to an offensive line that has impressed Parilla with its growth.
Senior Alton Townsend anchors the line with four juniors around him that have matured as the season has progressed.
"Alton has done a lot of good things for us," Parilla said. "It's going to be interesting because we're a young team."
Parilla's biggest fear has been the lack of consistency from his young squad. They will play well one game and then fall apart the next.
Their semifinal victory over Waipahu was the best game they played all year, according to Parilla, which means he isn't sure what team he's going to see tomorrow.
"When is this team going to jell?" Parilla asked. "Hopefully the Waipahu game was the game and we'll come into this week rolling."
The winner will become the fifth different champion since the White conference first held a title game in '03.
On paper: Kaimuki has won the last three meetings between the teams and nine in a row overall. The Rough Riders are 3-0-1 in their last four games. Roosevelt running back Ranson Tuitama is coming off a 184-yard, three touchdown performance on the ground against Waipahu.
The skinny: Roosevelt will have to find success running the ball against a stout Kaimuki defense. Tuitama averaged over 5 yards a carry in their meeting earlier this season, but only had 13 rushing attempts. The Bulldogs will feature running back Justin Paderes, who had over 200 yards against the Rough Riders and scored twice. The Bulldogs defense allowed less than 100 yards against Pearl City last weekend.
X-factor: One of the primary reasons for the Bulldogs' success has been their ability to minimize turnovers and penalties. If they can avoid the big mistakes and costly penalties like they have all season, they should be in good shape.
BIIF TITLE GAMES
Waiakea (4-6) at Kealakehe (9-2)
The Big Island's Division I title game pits champions of the present and the past. Waiakea won four BIIF championships in the mid-1990s, and tomorrow is a chance for the Warriors to return to glory. The Warriors have struggled mightily against the powerhouse Waveriders in recent years, but last week's controversial 28-27 win at Kealakehe may have ignited the once-proud program.
Kealakehe won the first-round matchup 54-35, surrendering four second-half touchdowns after emptying the bench. Last week's game wasn't a whole lot different. The Waveriders sat their prolific quarterback, Kawai Kanuha, and played backups in the second half as Waiakea rallied from a three-touchdown deficit. Can the Warriors overcome all doubts and succeed against Kealakehe's first team?
Keoki Limahai, a former quarterback, is a huge key to Kealakehe's pass-heavy offense. The running back was a focal point by Keaau when the Cougars upset Kealakehe a few weeks ago. If Waiakea can contain the shifty senior, it could be the start of a miraculous night on the West side.
Hawaii Prep (8-2) at Kamehameha-Hawaii (8-3)
The first-round Division II champion Warriors began the season with plenty of new starters and showed signs of inexperience before catching fire at midseason. Kolten Wong's monster numbers continued with 144 yards rushing last week, but HPA won the regular-season finale 21-14 on the Warriors' field.
It was Mana Purdy who exploded and led Ka Makani. Purdy ran for 181 yards and now has 1,530 yards.
Second-round winner HPA will have no qualms about returning to the East side in the battle for the Division II title. Getting an early lead again will be a huge key for both run-oriented teams.
: Keoki Phillips, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound right guard, returned from injury to pave the road for Purdy. How the Warriors adjust to Phillips' presence could mean the difference between a state berth and a premature end of the season.