[ HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL ]
Defense will rule
Points should be hard to come by
in Oahu's best prep matchups
It's the White Conference, but it's a red-hot matchup.
Tomorrow, Oahu Interscholastic Association football fans will find out which team is the true White front-runner as the midseason mark fast approaches.
Campbell and Radford go at it at 7:30 p.m. at the Rams' home field. Both teams are 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the league.
Coaches Tumoana Kenessey of the Sabers and Fred Salanoa of the Rams won't be surprised if it turns out to be a low-scoring, defensive affair.
"I always tell my kids that defense wins championships," Salanoa said. "So if we hold them to nothing and kick a field goal, I'd be fine with that."
Defensive ends Russell Wantowski and Vasa Kuresa, as well as cornerback Mike Davis, have been instrumental in leading Radford to success on the defensive side of the ball.
In three league games, Wantowski has 40 tackles, seven sacks, a blocked punt and an interception.
But Campbell has its share of defensive studs, too, including defensive back Isaac Laupola, linebackers Jake Lopes and Shaye Asoau and defensive ends Kealii Basham and Jacob Achiu.
Asoau, a Kaimuki transfer at quarterback, and Laupola, a receiver, form a dangerous passing combo.
Kenessey calls Laupola "a legitimate Division I" college player.
"He runs the 40 in 4.4. He stretches the coverage on offense by demanding a double team," Kenessey said. "On defense, he goes up against an opponent's best receiver. But he's only one part of the team."
Running back Alex Daniels and quarterback Ryan Burciaga lead the Rams on offense.
"Ryan does the little things. He checks off at the line of scrimmage when he needs to and he's been making some big plays," Salanoa said.
Burciaga threw the winning TD pass in a fourth-quarter comeback victory over Waipahu.
The Sabers get mileage from a strong offensive line, which is led by pulling guard Keoni Gaui.
"When he pulls, I'm sorry for the guy in his way," Kenessey said.
The winner will take over sole possession of first place in the White (Division II) Conference.
The Interscholastic League of Honolulu opens league play this weekend, and the big game is a Division I matchup between Kamehameha and Punahou.
The Warriors (2-0-1) and the Buffanblu (2-1) are coming off a bye week and are well rested for their game at Aloha Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
For Punahou's intricate and dangerous offense, it doesn't get any easier. The Buffanblu played one of the best defensive teams in the state two weeks ago in a 21-7 loss to Mililani. Kamehameha, too, isn't in the habit of giving up points.
The Warriors have some extra incentive. A year ago, their first loss came against the Buffanblu late in the season, and it was a major factor in bumping Kamehameha off its path to a possible ILH championship.
Many people considered that loss an upset, but that might not be true because Punahou was one of the strongest and most improved teams in the state late in the year.
"I hope this is something on our boys' minds," Kamehameha coach Kanani Souza said. "It's not something we talk about, but we want to atone for that performance against Punahou last year."
Souza and the Warriors know all about the Buffanblu's hard-to-stop offense, which is led by quarterback Brett Kan and speedy back Steven Dannaway.
"They're a good football team coming off a great season," Souza said. "They have a lot of skill and they spread the field and they really know their system. They have the ability to move the ball and they can score deep."
Kamehameha, which likes to run the ball with primary back Jayson Rego, can hurt you with the pass, too, with quarterback Pono Kam throwing to many targets, including Waika Spencer and Ikaika Hardie.
Hardie is also a kick- and punt-return threat.
"I'm very impressed with Kamehameha's running game and the way they block," Punahou coach Kale Ane said. "Their receivers are scary fast and their defense is aggressive. We're in for a battle."
Other key games
Farrington (1-2, 1-0 OIA Red East) meets defending league champion Kahuku (3-1, 2-0) tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Aloha Stadium. The Govs lost to the Red Raiders in the regular season, the OIA playoffs and the state tournament a year ago.
Leilehua's field gets a new name -- Hugh Yoshida Stadium -- tomorrow night as the Mules (3-0, 1-0 OIA Red West) meet Nanakuli (2-2, 1-1). Yoshida is a former Leilehua coach and University of Hawaii athletic director.
Also tomorrow night, Waipahu (2-2, 2-1) visits Kaiser (1-3, 1-2) in an OIA White game that looms large for both teams as the playoff picture begins to take shape.
On Saturday, ILH Division II rivals Damien (2-1) and Iolani (3-0) open league play against each other. The 4:45 p.m. game kicks off an ILH doubleheader, which can be seen on OC-16 pay-per-view.
Also on Saturday, Kapolei (1-2, 1-0 OIA Red West) challenges conference leader Mililani (4-0, 2-0).
High School Football
OIA Red East
Farrington vs. Kahuku, 7 p.m.
McKinley at Roosevelt, 7:30 p.m.
OIA Red West
Nanakuli at Leilehua, 7:30 p.m.
Pearl City at Aiea, 7:30 p.m.
Campbell at Radford, 7:30 p.m.
Waipahu at Kaiser, 7:30 p.m.
Moanalua vs. Kalaheo, at Kailua field, 7:30 p.m.
Kauai vs. Waimea, Hanapepe Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Baldwin at Kamehameha-Maui, 7:30 p.m.
Kohala at Kealakehe, 7:15 p.m.
Waiakea at Ka'u, 7 p.m.
Damien vs. Iolani, at Aloha Stadium, 4:45 p.m.
Kamehameha vs. Punahou, at Aloha Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
OIA Red East
Kaimuki vs. Castle, at Kaiser Stadium, 6:30 p.m.
OIA Red West
Kapolei at Mililani, 6:30 p.m.
Kalani at Waialua, 6:30 p.m.
Maui vs. Lahainaluna, at War Memorial Stadium, 7:30 p.m.
Hilo at Kamehameha-Hawaii, 1 p.m.
Kona at Keaau, 7:15 p.m.
Hawaii Prep at Honokaa, 7:15 p.m.