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Lead in ILH's D-I up for grabs


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POSTED: Saturday, October 03, 2009

There are no championship football games in early October, but this one comes pretty close.

A week ago, all three Division I teams in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu had one loss apiece. After Punahou's defeat at 'Iolani, however, Kamehameha (5-1, 2-1) and Saint Louis (5-1, 2-1) are locked in a first-place tie heading into tonight's duel at Aloha Stadium.

Third-ranked Saint Louis has thrived in high-pressure conference games often enough, amassing a 35-5 mark since the start of the 2006 season, plus two of the last three league titles.

Kamehameha's sturdy defense has limited six opponents to just 35 points, but the sight of quarterback Jeremy Higgins could be spooky. The southpaw passed for 330 yards (22-for-33) with four touchdowns and no picks in Saint Louis' 28-20 win a year ago.

Things got even rougher in their rematch last October, when Higgins went 29-for-43 for 484 yards and six touchdowns in a 55-28 win by the Saints.

The Warriors (5-1, 2-1) have one of the state's top running backs in Ryan Ho, and with a series of pistol sets and unbalanced lines, would love to keep the chains moving and keep Higgins on the sideline.

Damien vs. No. 5 'Iolani, Aloha Stadium

The transition from a run-heavy offense to an aerial show has been rough at times for Damien (1-5, 1-3 ILH), but coach Punahou Aina's commitment to opening up the attack is firm. 'Iolani (6-1, 4-0) has already knocked off Kamehameha and Punahou, but the Raiders barely got past Damien 27-21 a year ago.

Pac-Five vs. Word of Life, Aloha Stadium

The Wolfpack lead the series with the Firebrands 2-0 after last year's 48-28 and 28-6 wins.

After a 31-3 loss to 'Iolani two weeks ago, the 'Pack (4-2, 1-2 ILH) had last week off and could benefit from the return of slotback Darin Kamealoha. The Firebrands (0-4, 0-3) lost to Saint Louis 39-18 last week.

Kaimuki vs. McKinley, Ticky Vasconcellos Stadium

The Bulldogs (1-5, 1-3 OIA Red East) caged the Tigers last season 36-0 behind Justin Paredes (153 rushing yards), who has since graduated. McKinley (2-4, 1-3) struggled in last week's loss to Castle, surrendering six touchdown passes in the first half.

Pearl City vs. Kalani, Kaiser Stadium

The young Falcons have struggled offensively, but have also shown potential. Receivers Angelo Berardy and Chancen Schutter have been productive, and quarterback Dane Onaga was 14-for-23 in a loss to Moanalua. Kalani (0-6, 0-5 OIA White) will be tested by the Chargers (2-4, 2-3), who need a win to stay in the thick of the playoff chase.

Anuenue vs. Kalaheo, Kailua field

The Mustangs (4-3, 3-3 OIA White) are getting by even with a lineup of fewer than two dozen healthy players. Jesse Carney has been prolific. Last week, he rushed for 240 yards and four touchdowns against Kalani.