Expect No. 2 Mililani to stay unbeaten


POSTED: Saturday, September 26, 2009

There's a reason why a preseason scrimmage between Kahuku and Mililani in early August was so memorable.

It was blazing hot by the time it all began at 10 a.m., but more than that, the new versions of the Red Raiders and the Trojans were unveiled that week. Kahuku, with its shotgun sets to complement a traditional power running game, got plenty of work done. Quarterback Evan Moe got plenty of reps in offensive coordinator Walter Santiago's new package. Having a considerably smaller roster—the years of 90-plus players are gone—didn't hurt.

Mililani was in the developing stages on both sides of the ball. New quarterback Trent McKinney was lodged in a battle for the starting spot with JV product Nainoa Pihana. Defensively, the Taz effect was under way. Dalaunte “;Taz”; Stevenson was learning the safety position on the job, a new playmaker for a slightly smaller, but quicker unit.

Seven weeks later, Kahuku and Mililani are Nos. 1 and 2 in the Star-Bulletin Football Top 10.

Here's a look at today's matchups:

No. 2 Mililani at Nanakuli

The Trojans (5-0, 3-0 OIA) like to have range and flexibility on defense. The plan has worked so far. Mililani has permitted three points by Moanalua, 18 by Leilehua, nine by Punahou, zero by Waipahu, 14 by Campbell and last week, got a bye.

A well-timed weekend off only helps the Trojans. Nanakuli is looking for its first win of the season.

Word of Life vs. No. 3 Saint Louis

The Crusaders (4-1, 1-1 ILH) were knocked out of the league lead—and a top ranking—by Punahou last week. Now the rest of the season begins, and the Firebrands (0-3, 0-2) are first in line against the steaming Saints.

Damien at No. 5 Kamehameha

The Monarchs had their share of wins last season, particularly in nonconference play. Their 48-0 loss to Kamehameha, though, was a stinger. Damien (1-4, 1-2 ILH) will have to cope with the prowess of running back Ryan Ho, who rushed for 187 yards and four touchdowns in last year's matchup. Kamehameha (4-1, 1-1 ILH) limited the Division II Monarchs to 89 total yards.

Castle vs. McKinley, Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium

The Knights (3-2, 1-2 OIA) have been up—a nonconference win over 'Iolani—and down. They struggled to move the ball consistently against Roosevelt two weeks ago while giving up 36 points. The Tigers (2-3, 1-2) are in the playoff hunt despite some one-sided defeats. Their 23-21 win over Kailua three weeks ago could prove to be a huge tiebreaker edge if the two teams finish in a tie.

Pearl City at Waialua

Last week's loss to Anuenue put a big dent in the Chargers' playoff hopes. Pearl City (1-4, 1-3 OIA White) still has four more regular-season games, but Waialua (2-3, 2-2) is equally testy since a blowout home loss to Kalaheo two weeks ago.

Kalaheo vs. Kalani, Kaiser Stadium

The Mustangs (3-3, 2-3 OIA White) suited up 22 players last week, but may be healthier now. Kalani (0-5, 0-4) is heavy with underclassmen, many of whom were still on the JV when Kalaheo notched a 70-0 win last year.

Lahainaluna at Kamehameha-Maui

The Warriors (1-2, 1-1 MIL) can widen the gap in the D-II race with a win. KS-Maui's offense has been potent recently, but the Warriors also allow more yardage than any team in the MIL. The visiting Lunas (1-3, 1-2) defeated KS-Maui twice last season, including a 28-21 win at the Warriors' field.