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Kahuku vs. Farrington has the makings of a classic


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POSTED: Friday, October 02, 2009

The breakthrough may be near.

That's what persistence might do for the Farrington Governors, who host Kahuku in a key Oahu Interscholastic Association Red East showdown at Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium tonight.

Few football programs are willing to schedule homecoming against a true nemesis. Kahuku has won 12 of the last 13 meetings between the schools. Many of those games were one-sided, but last year was quite different.

Kahuku swept Farrington in two games, but by narrow margins. During the regular season, Alapeti Magalei's 26-yard, second-half touchdown run out of a (then) rare spread formation was the difference in a 13-6 Red Raiders win at Kahuku.

A month later, St. John Lessary III's 26-yard field goal in the second overtime lifted Kahuku to a 22-19 win for the Oahu Interscholastic Association Red championship.

This season is not much different. Top-ranked Kahuku (6-0, 4-0 OIA Red East) and No. 4 Farrington (5-0, 4-0) have the division's stingiest defenses. Kahuku, led by defensive linemen Hauoli Jamora (6-foot-2, 235 pounds) and Kona Schwenke (6-3, 215), have allowed just 9.8 points per game. Farrington has been air-tight, lock-down tough, allowing just 3 points per game. Linebackers Justin Vele and V.J. Fehoko are part of a unit that rested up through a bye week.

Kahuku has its concerns. Offensive lineman Jase Toomalatai (6-1, 280) suffered a head injury at practice this week and is out for the game.

“;You don't have a 100 percent healthy team at this point of the season,”; coach Reggie Torres said.

With a defensive stalemate in the forecast, the matchup might come down — as it did in the OIA final — to the kicking game. Kahuku kicker Clinton Mercado has 60-yard range at practice, but missed two tries in last week's win over Kaimuki.

“;I don't have any qualms about him trying a 50-yard field goal,”; Torres said of the transfer from Florida. “;I know he can do it. He missed those kicks (last week), but I'll still go to him. Kickers have to have a short memory.”;

While Kahuku has flexed its creative muscle with more shotgun and spread formations this season, the ground attack is still the foundation. Viliami Pasi (98 yards against Kaimuki) has increased his production as part of Kahuku's committee of ballcarriers.

Farrington has relied on its powerful ground game, using Harry Tuimaseve as a workhorse. A backup last year to Apelu So'oalo, Tuimaseve had 84 rushing yards on 21 attempts in the two games with Kahuku, including a game-tying touchdown in the OIA final.

The OIA will collect disaster relief contributions at the gate. All money collected will go to the Red Cross' efforts throughout Asia and Polynesia.

Here's a look at tonight's other matchups:

Nanakuli at No. 7 Leilehua

The Mules (4-2, 3-1 OIA Red West) can't afford a letdown against the Golden Hawks, who are after their first win. Leilehua won last season's matchup 45-12.

No. 8 Waianae at Waipahu

The Seariders (3-3, 3-1 OIA Red West) lost to Leilehua last week and need a win to solidify their playoff chances. They haven't forgotten last year's 28-15 homecoming loss to Waipahu. The Marauders (3-3, 1-3) need a win to stay ahead in the battle for the fifth and final playoff spot.

Kailua at Castle

The Knights (4-2, 2-2 OIA Red East) got six touchdown passes in one half from Jaymason Lee in last week's win over McKinley, but rival Kailua (3-4, 2-3) is tough as usual.

Moanalua at Waialua

With Tahje Canyon churning out big yardage, Na Menehune (5-1, 5-0 OIA White) have won their share of close games. Waialua (2-4, 2-3) is in a logjam as the playoff hunt gets tougher.

Radford at Kaiser

The Rams (3-3, 3-2), without injured quarterback Doug Brown, have a tough hurdle in the Cougars (3-3, 3-2). Radford will have to deal with Kaiser's prolific running back, Josh Gonda.

Kealakehe at Honokaa

Sage Johnson's prolific passing and scrambling has the Dragons (3-3, 2-1 BIIF) in position for possible upset against dynastic Kealakehe (3-2, 3-0).

Waiakea vs. Hilo, Wong Stadium

The Warriors (1-2 BIIF) and Vikings (1-2) are on the heels of Kealakehe and Honokaa in the D-I standings.