Kahuku a big obstacle in Farrington's path


POSTED: Thursday, November 26, 2009

Cameron Mercado has already decided the outcome of one classic game between Kahuku and Farrington.

Could he do it again tomorrow? The lanky kicker had his ups and downs when the teams met in regular-season play, missing a PAT, but nailing a game-winning field goal in the clutch for a 16-14 Kahuku win on Oct. 2.

The teams meet in the Division I semifinals of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA State Football Championships at 4 p.m. tomorrow at Aloha Stadium. The winner moves on, and the loser calls it a season. Farrington (9-2), which has absorbed its fill of close losses to the Red Raiders (11-0), would like nothing better than to win big.





        Semifinals tomorrow

Division I
        At Aloha Stadium
        » Farrington (9-2) vs. Kahuku (11-0), 4 p.m., OC 16, KWAI 1080-AM.
        » Leilehua (9-3) vs. Kamehameha (10-1), 7 p.m., OC 16, KWAI 1080-AM


Division II
        At Radford High
        » Aiea (9-3) vs. 'Iolani (10-2), 7 p.m.
        At Vidinha Stadium
        » Hawaii Prep (11-0) at Kauai (9-0), 7 p.m.




On the other hand, they've got a steady kicker in Moses Kaina, who has patiently waited for his chance to shine. The opportunity could come soon enough.

On paper: Kahuku won Division I state titles in 2000, '01, '03, '05 and '06, but has not been to the final since.

Farrington hasn't reached the final since the state tourney was established in 1999. The Governors are ranked No. 4 in the Star-Bulletin Football Top 10, losing only to Kahuku 16-14 and Leilehua 9-7, the latter in the OIA Red semifinals.

Kahuku opened the season with a win over defending state champion Punahou, but didn't take the No. 1 spot in the poll until Sept. 22, after Saint Louis was upset by 'Iolani.

This will be the sixth encounter between Torres and Farrington coach Randall Okimoto. Since Torres took over at Kahuku in '06, the Red Raiders have won all five meetings.

This season, Kahuku trailed 14-0 before rallying in the second half for a 16-14 win. Evan Moe was picked off twice in his first four attempts, but later hit eight passes in a row, including a scoring strike to Sage Kaka. Mercado's 32-yard field goal in the final quarter was the difference.

The skinny: Farrington's “;Bamboolas”; up front have paved the way for running back Harry Tuimaseve (1,601 rushing yards). The senior ran for 95 yards on 26 carries in the loss to Kahuku—good numbers against a great defense, but a season low for Tuimaseve.

Farrington ran the ball 40 times and passed 16 times in that regular-season loss. Quarterback Jared Hakuole looked crisp in a 48-16 opening-round win over Honokaa last week, but few teams have as quick and dominating a tandem up front as Kahuku. Hauoli Jamora and Kona Schwenke are among the toughest in the state to defend in obvious passing situations.

The Red Raiders opened up the playbook this season to give Moe and his receivers more opportunities, but they still prefer the ground game to set a defense up. Viliami Pasi, Tyrone Brown and fullback Fonoivasa Mata'afa share the load out of the backfield.

X factor: Kahuku's play-action game has been effective, with tall receivers like Shairone Thompson (6-4, 200) to work in a vertical attack. Thompson, a tight end, is a matchup nightmare for most defenses. Farrington's best cover man is Alvin Faamausili, but he'll probably spend his night covering Kaipo Pearl or Punga Vea. That leaves Thompson to linebackers like Justin Vele (6-0, 206).

Faamausili is the best deep threat in Farrington's arsenal. The wide receiver/cornerback caught two touchdown passes against Honokaa.