[ PREP FOOTBALL ]
Although the races for Oahu Interscholastic Association conference titles have just begun, several teams are at the crossroads.
OIA contenders face key
games this weekend
By Jason Kaneshiro
The third week of the OIA football season features several games that could have playoff implications in October.
In the Red Conference, Windward Oahu will host two pivotal games tonight as Kailua faces Waianae and McKinley travels to Kaneohe to take on Castle. Tomorrow, defending state champion Kahuku takes its first road trip of the season to Mililani.
Castle and McKinley, which earned promotions from the White Conference last season, enter their duel undefeated. Castle is flying high after its 55-35 upset of Waianae last week, and coach Nelson Maeda hopes the victory will serve as a springboard into the rest of the season for the Knights.
"We always talk about how belief creates reality," Maeda said. "And a lot of times from a coaching perspective you don't have something substantial to back up that motivating factor you're trying to get into them. This win proves to them that if they play together they can get it done. It can happen."
But if the Knights are still on a cloud tonight, McKinley is capable of knocking them back to Earth. The Tigers feature a thunder and lightning rushing attack led by speedy Kimo Terry and powerful Lorgan Pau. The duo has combined for six touchdowns in the Tigers' first two games.
Waianae must rebound quickly to remain in the hunt for the conference championship. The Seariders face a Kailua team that had a week off to prepare for tonight's game.
It could be another long night for the defenses as both teams' offenses have put up big numbers in the season's opening weeks. Waianae quarterback Kekoa Reyes rushed for 146 yards and threw three touchdown passes in the Seariders' loss to Castle, while Kailua running back Nathan Leaver had 184 rushing yards against Campbell two weeks ago.
Next week Waianae faces Kahuku, which has breezed through its early schedule. The Red Raiders enter tomorrow's game at Mililani undefeated after outscoring Kaimuki and Farrington by a combined score of 88-13.
In the White Conference, Aiea hosts Waipahu tonight in a showdown of two of the conference's top contenders.
Na Alii and Marauders have excelled on defense this season. The Waipahu defense has surrendered only 229 total yards and one touchdown, and forced four turnovers last week against Kalani. Aiea has yielded a conference-low 210 yards in two games and has yet to allow a point in the regular season.
"Our defense has stepped it up and really played well," said Aiea coach Wendell Say. "It's probably been our biggest surprise this season."
The offenses feature contrasting styles. Aiea does most of its damage through the air while Waipahu prefers to grind out yardage on the ground.
Aiea is led by quarterback Lole Laolagi, who has thrown five touchdown passes in two games. Waipahu running back Andrew Hale is averaging more than 6 yards per carry and has reached the end zone four times.
"The key is execution," said Waipahu coach Todd Fujimori. "When you draw things up on the board everything looks great. But the bottom line is which team executes.
"It's a big game," he added. "But I wouldn't say whoever wins it is going to win the championship. The season is so young that anything can happen."
The Interscholastic League of Honolulu unveils several new wrinkles in its season-opening doubleheader at Aloha Stadium tonight. Divisional play will be introduced and the league's 65-player limit will be enforced for the first time.
Iolani faces Damien in the first game at 4:45 p.m. The Raiders and Monarchs were placed in Division II in the ILH's new two-tiered format this season. St. Louis and Punahou meet at 7:30 p.m. in a Division I matchup. Pac-Five and Kamehameha have byes this week.
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