No. 1 Punahou faces
No. 2 Kamehameha

The Buffanblu get another
test after beating Saint
Louis in their ILH opener

The last time the state's top two teams met, Kahuku blanked Kamehameha.

That was a month ago. Since then, the faces of Hawaii's prep football powerhouses have gotten a lift. Castle upset Kahuku last week, leaving room for a new king on the throne.

Despite two key injuries, Punahou (4-0) won its league opener against Saint Louis and is perched at No. 1 in the Star-Bulletin Top 10.

The Buffanblu's first chance to prove the voters right comes on Saturday, when Punahou and Kamehameha (3-1) clash at Aloha Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Among other big matchups are Division II battles. Third-ranked Iolani faces Damien in a 4:30 game at Aloha Stadium on Saturday. Also on Saturday, unbeaten Moanalua visits rival Radford in a pivotal Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference showdown.

The voting panel of coaches and media isn't completely sold on the Buffanblu. Punahou collected 15 of 27 possible first-place votes. Nine went to No. 2 Kamehameha, which has won three straight since the Kahuku game.

A bye last weekend gave the ailing Warriors a chance to heal going into their Interscholastic League of Honolulu opener. Running back Ryan Montez is lost for the season with an ACL injury, but Kamehameha gets linebackers Mana Lolotai and Kapono Rawlins-Crivello back in the lineup this week. Also, defensive tackle Kawika Shook returns.

Losing game and practice time could be a factor. "Kapono played a lot last year, but some of the other guys haven't," Kamehameha coach Doss Tannehill said.

Lolotai might be a little rusty. "Mana only played against Edison," Tannehill said, referring to the Warriors' win over the highly ranked team from California.

Punahou's run-and-shoot offense will face a Kamehameha linebacker corps that is among the state's best. Receiver Miah Ostrowski has been hot lately. He caught nine passes for 126 yards, including the go-ahead 40-yard touchdown, against Saint Louis. The week before, he caught 10 passes for 181 yards and the game's only touchdown in an upset over Timpview, which was ranked No. 1 in Utah.

However, last year, Ostrowski struggled in the first meeting with Kamehameha, catching one pass for minus-1 yard as Punahou lost 34-7. In the second matchup, Kamehameha won 39-21, but Ostrowski had nine receptions for 126 yards and two scores.

"I think it's gonna present a new challenge for us since we haven't played a team that throws in this fashion. Brett Kan gets rid of the ball really quickly," Tannehill noted. "And they're playing good defense, too."

Punahou's defense has improved vastly, and special teams is another area where the Buffanblu have strength. River Kim is among the league's top kickers.

"We've worked on some new things, and we'll finalize that in the next few days," Tannehill said of his defense, which is essentially using the same package as last year, when the Warriors won the ILH and state championships.

Kamehameha's cornerbacks will be tested, especially since the graduation of standouts Michael Holt and Travis Uale. "I don't know if we've adjusted yet because it's still early on. As far as corners and safeties go, we'll have a better handle after Saturday," Tannehill said. "I don't think our corners did real good against Leilehua, but the kids have worked at it, the coaches have worked at it."

One of the points of concern for Tannehill after Kamehameha's 20-14 win over Leilehua two weeks ago was consistency and intensity. "Especially on offense, we've worked on that," the first-year head coach said. "But you never know until you play the game."

Running back Jeremiah Dela Pena was a workhorse in the win over Leilehua. The Warriors are deep in the backfield, and large and in charge up front.

"I think we run pretty well. We need to establish our ground game. That's what we do. Everything else comes off of that," Tannehill said.

Punahou's 3-4 defense may seem vulnerable to a smashmouth offensive attack, but the coach isn't assuming anything.

"Those 'backers run pretty well. Whether they'll stick with it or go to a more conventional four-man front, I don't know," he said.

Kamehameha's passing game hasn't gotten untracked yet, but is showing signs of improvement. Senior Aaron Nichols caught a touchdown pass against Leilehua and is ready for more.

First-year starter Kahaku Kaai is 6-foot-3 with a missile launcher for an arm. "He is a real hard-working kid, real serious about playing quarterback," Tannehill said. "He is progressing."



OIA Red East: Kailua at Kahuku, McKinley vs. Farrington at Aloha Stadium, games begin 25 minutes after end of 5 p.m. JV game.

OIA Red West: Pearl City at Kapolei, Aiea at Leilehua, games begin 25 minutes after end of 5 p.m. JV game.

OIA White: Kalaheo vs. Kalani at Kaiser, Kaiser at Campbell, games begin 25 minutes after end of 5 p.m. JV game.


OIA Red East: Castle vs. Roosevelt at Kailua, game begins 25 minutes after end of 4 p.m. JV game.

OIA Red West: Nanakuli at Waianae, game begins 25 minutes after end of 4 p.m. JV game.

OIA White: Moanalua at Radford, game begins 25 minutes after end of 4 p.m. JV game.

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