'Iolani and Kauai can play a little D too


POSTED: Friday, December 04, 2009

Run-and-shoot is a misnomer sometimes.

For Kauai and 'Iolani, run-and-shoot offenses are less about aeronautics and more about controlling tempo. Dictating the pace and taking what defenses give are common philosophies for the two finalists in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Division II State Football Championship.

'Iolani (11-2), the top seed, has faced a mix of D-I and D-II opponents, which makes its defensive statistics quite intriguing. Kauai (10-0), the No. 2 seed, has faced an all-Division II slate so far. If last week's 28-14 win over upstart Hawaii Prep (which won at Moanalua in a quarterfinal) is any indication, Kauai has one of its traditionally tough teams on both sides of the ball.





        Who: 'Iolani vs. Kauai

Where: Aloha Stadium


When: Today, 4:30


TV: Pay per view, Dig. 260


Radio: KWAI, 1080-AM




The numbers don't lie:

» Opposing quarterbacks managed a mediocre 60.0 passing efficiency rate against Kauai.

» The Red Raiders permitted only 74.7 rushing yards per game.

» Only 57 points were scored against Kauai in Kauai Interscholastic Federation and state-tourney play.

With bruising Paleku Yasay (5-foot-9, 210) at running back, Kauai has helped out its defense by running a whole lot. The Red Raiders ran 174 times and had 228 pass attempts, a ratio of 43 percent rushing and 57 percent passing.

'Iolani continues, year after year, to use average-sized (or smaller) running backs with success. The Raiders have helped their defense stay fresh by pounding away on the ground. With 346 carries in 13 games, their run-pass ratio is 45 percent (run) to 55 percent (pass).

» Opposing offenses have 10 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions against 'Iolani's defense.

» Passers have an efficiency rate of 106.3 against 'Iolani—much higher than Kauai's defense—but the Interscholastic League of Honolulu has some of the top quarterbacks in the state.

» Seven times, 'Iolani allowed 127 passing yards or less. All but one (Kapolei) were D-II foes.

» Eight times, the Raiders limited opponents to less than 100 rushing yards. They won all eight of those games, which were also entirely against D-II teams.

» One of those defensive gems was against Aiea. 'Iolani limited Na Alii to 56 yards (in 32 carries) in last week's semifinal.

So, is Kauai's offense on a D-I level, ready to plunder 'Iolani's defense? After all, KIF teams played among the D-I powerhouses until the D-II state tourney was created in 2003. Or is Kauai more of a standard, yet elite D-II program that will be content to pass well? Trey Shimabukuro threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns against HPA, but that doesn't mean Kauai will focus less on running the ball.

In fact, the Red Raiders are so far removed from being a pure run-and-shoot team—June Jones would cringe just a bit if he were at the game tonight—that they go under center sometimes.

So does 'Iolani, of course, when defensive tackles Kaena Moose and Seali'i Epenesa line up as fullbacks in the occasional power-I set on short-yardage and goal-line situations.

Beyond the defensive numbers, what binds the two teams is an insatiable willingness to destroy expectations and categorizations. They'll do what it takes to compete and win—running the ball often, if possible—and that should provide plenty of backdrop for what could be a puzzle for a matchup.