HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
Coaches tab 3 as OIA faves
If you listen to them, they usually know better.
Right now, football coaches in the Oahu Interscholastic Association are pointing at Leilehua and Kahuku as the best teams in the Red West and Red East. Leilehua, ranked No. 2 in the state, was a near-unanimous choice in the Star-Bulletin coaches poll to capture the Red West.
The only dissenting vote tabbed Kapolei with one first-place vote. Leilehua and Kapolei were the clear front-runners, with Mililani third -- just a point ahead of Waianae. Coaches voted Waipahu to finish fifth, followed by fellow newcomers Pearl City and Nanakuli.
Leilehua lost four games last season, but caught fire in the second half. After finishing second in the Red West, the Mules won close games in the playoffs and state tourney.
"Tough defense. Playmakers on offense. (The) players have a title to defend, which means they'll be playing with a positive chip on their shoulder," Kapolei coach Darren Hernandez said about Leilehua.
Mules coach Nolan Tokuda is wary of the tough competition in the Red West.
"Kapolei seems to be loaded this year and they also got a guy (linebacker/running back Simione Vehikite) from Lahainaluna," Tokuda said. "Waipahu is the darkhorse. Coach Sean (Saturnio) has been building the program from the JPD Clinics. From building the boys' character, they will overcome obstacles and surprise teams."
Predicted order of finish, as voted on by coaches:
6. Pearl City
OIA RED EAST
5. (tie) Kaiser
5. (tie) Kalaheo
7. (tie) Anuenue
7. (tie) Waialua
In the East, Kahuku was a slim choice ahead of Farrington. Coaches voted Castle third, followed by upstart Kaimuki, Kailua, McKinley and Roosevelt.
"They're retooling and reloading," Castle coach Nelson Maeda said of Kahuku. "They have so much athletic talent and tradition."
Kaimuki is one of the league's sleeper teams, but coach Darren Johnson points to Castle as the team to watch.
"All their kids who went to the (summer) camps ... the five or six of them really stood out," said Johnson, who knows plenty about the Knights after a long stint as rival Kailua's coach. "Watching them on film, they looked real good. They have a lot of fight in them and never give up."
Recently demoted teams dominated the upper level in the White Conference voting. Campbell was a popular selection to finish first, followed by Aiea, Radford and Moanalua.
Voters have Kaiser and Kalaheo tied at fifth, followed by Anuenue and Waialua in a tie at seventh, and Kalani in eighth.
"Campbell's got the weapons and a new coach to get them going," Aiea coach Wendell Say said of Sabers' guru Amosa Amosa, who taught the run-and-shoot at Aiea for several years.
Many of the White Conference (Division II) teams, in fact, would be highly competitive in the Red if not for the reshuffling that the OIA does every two years. In last week's nonconference games, Aiea (White) beat Pearl City (Red), Campbell (White) stifled Roosevelt (Red) and Kalaheo (White) trounced Maui (Division I).