OIA White unbeatens Kalaheo, Radford meet
They are iron horses who gallop and stomp mercilessly - and usually victoriously.
More often than not, the Kalaheo Mustangs have been winning. After last week's 24-0 victory over Waialua, Kalaheo is 5-0 (3-0 in league play) since being demoted to the White Conference of the Oahu Interscholastic Association.
With Phil Tauai at quarterback - and one of several two-way starters - coach Chris Mellor and staff have gotten the most out of their roster of about 30 players. Last year's team was highly competitive in the Red Conference, losing at Waianae 12-6 in the playoffs.
Along the way, they've ruffled more than a few feathers. During Mellor's reign, no team has drawn more complaints - all made privately - about Kalaheo. Trash-talking. Blocking the path from locker rooms to the field before warm-ups. Flopping for penalties.
Three weeks ago, the Mustangs were ahead 28-7 at Kaiser and called timeouts during a game-ending drive. In the final minute, Kalaheo kicked a field goal.
More than a few Kaiser fans went ballistic.
Tomorrow, the Mustangs bring their take-no-prisoners mentality to Radford, where coach Fred Salanoa and the Rams have a slightly different approach. Salanoa, who broke numerous passing records at Eastern Washington, has the countenance of a chess master. After six seasons at the helm, the Radford alum is still one of the youngest coaches in the state, and one of the most savvy.
Radford (3-1, 3-0) opened the season with a nonconference loss to Leilehua, but has been steady since with wins over Aiea, Moanalua and Campbell. Quarterback Doug Brown is a tough target for pass rushers. Brown, not a pure pocket passer, has a nifty touch on the move and often completes his passes while rolling out or scrambling.
His targets are big - not exactly what some may think of as Division II receivers. Shawn Putman-Curry (6-1, 205), Brad Osborne (6-2, 175) and Deshawn Robinson can get up the field quickly, but tight end Andrew Forester (6-1, 225) is a safety blanket for Brown. Putman-Curry leads the corps with 17 receptions for 232 yards and three scores.
The Rams aren't totally pass-crazy. James Jennings, a sophomore, filled in when starting running back Tama Fiaseu got hurt and rushed for 82 yards against a stout Campbell defense two weeks ago.
Radford's defense could zone in on Kalaheo's veer offense. The Mustangs rushed for 240 yards against Waialua. Vincent Santiago, Shane Stephens, Eddie Tauai and Levi Jackola share ball-carrying duties. Defensive back/running back Dwayne Mitchell is a breakaway threat; he returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown against Maui.
Still, Kalaheo isn't one-dimensional. Tauai threw the ball 20 times in a 7-2 win over Aiea, but may have to watch out for Radford's Tevita Baravilala. The speedy sophomore has already returned two picks for touchdowns.
The difference between two of the conference leaders could come down to the kicking game. Junior Dongwoo Kim has kicked three field goals, with a long of 37 yards.
Here's a look at the rest of tomorrow's matchups:
No. 6 Kahuku vs. McKinley
Since re-opening that old chapter of the playbook - the I-formation option - the Red Raiders (3-1, 2-0) have been on fire with three wins in OIA Red East play. Defensively, they've shut out their last two foes. McKinley (1-3, 1-1) is coming off a lopsided loss to Farrington and lacks depth, but still has warriors in Wil Starks-Togiai, and brothers Tana and Tevita Woodard.
No. 8 Baldwin vs. King Kekaulike
The Bears (2-0, 1-0 MIL) are showing signs of chemistry as new quarterback Buta Wilhelm-Ioane finds his niche in the run-and-shoot attack. Ceejay Santos booted a 51-yard field goal in last week's win over Maui. King Kekaulike (1-1, 0-0) won the D-II state title two years ago, but is still finding its footing in D-I. Na Alii were swept by Baldwin in two games last year, but have been resting since returning from a trip to Florida two weeks ago.
Damien vs. Word of Life
The Monarchs (4-1, 1-1 ILH) are an offensive machine. Say what? Yes, it's true. Brenan Furtado has run for 564 yards and 10 touchdowns, and Stanton Pilialoha was smooth in his debut as a starting quarterback last week. He completed nine of his 15 passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and no picks against Pac-Five. Word of Life (2-3, 0-2), with an enrollment of less than 200 students, started the year strong with wins over Nanakuli and Kamehameha-Maui, but got shut out at Iolani last week. Max Mower (274 rushing yards) and Ryan Alvarado (220 yards) have been steady, and the return of Kala'i Bustos helps.
Anuenue at Campbell
Na Koa (0-5, 0-4 OIA White) have been competitive and bring the Double-Wing offense to Ewa. Juniors Kalani Pua'oi (5-7, 200) and Keliikoa Aki (5-4, 152) spark the ground attack. Lalo Respicio has passed for 808 yards, eight touchdowns and only two picks in three games for Campbell (4-1, 3-1).
Honokaa at Konawaena
They're both smaller schools (less than 800 enrollment) that are playing the best football on the Big Island. Honokaa (3-0, 2-0 BIIF) was without six starters but still edged Keaau. As a member of Division I, the Dragons are in for an exhibition game with the D-II Wildcats. Konawaena (5-0, 2-0) lost slotback Nalu Ka'eo and linebacker Corey Johnson for the season in the win over Kohala.
KS-Hawaii at Kohala
The Cowboys (4-1, 1-1) have struggled against the Warriors in the past, but have home field and the memory of last year's 22-6 and 21-7 losses. KS-Hawaii (0-4, 0-3) had a tough nonconference schedule before losing 27-20 to Hawaii Prep last week.
Waiakea at Kealakehe
The Waveriders (2-2, 1-0) have been a dynasty in the BIIF for many years, but are in rebuilding mode. Jordan Ursua has moved from wideout to quarterback, where his size and athleticism should produce big results. Waiakea (0-3, 0-1) lost at Kealakehe in last year's D-I title game 50-13.