Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Saint Louis vs. Kahuku more than just a game

By Paul Honda


If it's only "preseason," why bother, right?

After all, when No. 2 Saint Louis (2-0) visits No. 1 Kahuku (2-0) the win (and loss) won't count on either team's league record.

Both teams will likely go as deep into their depth charts as possible while still keeping an eye on the score, field position and clock.

But if it's just another meaningless game, why would the top two teams in Hawaii put this game on their nonconference lineups?

If this matchup means so little, why would it be televised across the islands?

Why will hundreds of Crusaders fans make the scenic trek to the North Shore, and why will thousands of hearty Red Raiders fans squeeze into the bleachers at Carleton Weimer Field?

There's something about those navy blue Crusaders helmets and red Kahuku hats that will bring out an extra dose of adrenaline, even when junior varsity teams kick off at 5 p.m. It goes back to tradition and history, naturally.

Since 1999, Kahuku has won five HHSAA state championships. Saint Louis has two, but has finished second five times -- an accomplishment matched by no other program.

Go back further, and Saint Louis won 14 Prep Bowl titles, including 13 in a row, from 1983 to 1998 under Cal Lee. Kahuku never won one of those mythical state crowns, but did lose to the Saints five times in those matchups.

Of course, that was then. More recently, Kahuku's state titles include nail-biters over the boys from Kalaepohaku: a 7-6 victory in 2006 in coach Reggie Torres' first season as head coach, and a 27-26 win in '03, in current Saints coach Darnell Arceneaux's first stint.

In '07, the teams met in a nonconference game at Aloha Stadium and Saint Louis prevailed 21-6. Kahuku lost in the OIA playoffs, Saint Louis reached the state final and fell to Leilehua.

Then there is a wealth of talent harvested from the North Shore that has played for Saint Louis over the decades. The Crusaders scoured the region better than any panhandler roamed the Old West. The North Shore was Saint Louis' deep-sea oil rig, at least until recent years.

So, as Saint Louis buses out to Kahuku today for a shot at bragging rights, it could be a preview of this season's eventual matchup in the state final. So much talent at so many positions, including quarterback, where Saint Louis' Marcus Mariota (Oregon) will bring his 4.3 speed in the 40-yard dash to one of the island's most weather-beaten fields.

Evan Moe, Kahuku's signal-caller, has a chance to bring Red Raiders nation to its feet and prove, once and for all, that Kahuku has a balanced offense better than any foe's.



» No. 3 Kamehameha vs. No. 6 Farrington at Kaiser: This historic rivalry -- the "Kalihi Bowl" -- moves out to Hawaii Kai since the Govs don't have a field to truly call home and the Warriors are without their stadium this fall.
» Kapolei at No. 7 Leilehua: The Mules escaped with a 14-10 comeback win at Kapolei last year. The primary playmakers on the go-ahead touchdown pass, Andrew Manley and Kamana Akagi, have graduated.
» Campbell at No. 10 Waianae: The Seariders are coming off tough losses to Kahuku and Saint Louis. The visiting Sabers are sorting through a quarterback battle.
» Kalani at Waialua: The Falcons were fierce in last year's battle, a 21-7 win by the visiting Bulldogs. This OIA White opener is the first game for Kalani since losing to Kapaa two weeks ago.
» Lethbridge (Canada) at Hilo, Wong Stadium: The visitors from Alberta lost at Kapaa 38-12 last weekend.
» Honokaa at Ka'u: The Dragons, a historically tough D-I program, will make their debut in Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II football.


» No. 9 Moanalua at No. 4 Punahou: The defensive-minded Buffanblu will keep their eyes on Menehune receiver Michael Egami. Moanalua's defense will be tested by a powerful offensive line and running back Steven Lakalaka.
» Kaiser at 'Iolani: This annual battle was cemented during 'Iolani alum Pat Samsonas' era as coach at Kaiser. Now Will Lobendahn, the former Crusader, has guided the Cougars -- now in D-I -- through tough losses to Pac-Five and Farrington.
» Damien at Castle: The Knights are coming off a stunning 22-18 loss to Moanalua.
» Pac-Five at Kailua: The Wolfpack have shown resilience since losing key players to graduation, topping Kaiser 7-3 and losing at Campbell 14-12. The Surfriders are developing their aerial attack, and since this is a nonconference pairing, it's a good opportunity to continue the trend.
» Kamehameha-Hawaii at Honokaa: D-II in the BIIF figures to be compelling with KSH, Honokaa and Hawaii Prep in the mix for one state berth.
» Hawaii Prep at Kohala: A big difference between these small programs is HPA has a history of maximizing potential, while the Cowboys peak once starting lineups are set.
» Kealakehe at Waiakea: The Waveriders have a long voyage ahead, but have a chance to re-establish their BIIF dynasty.
» No. 5 Mililani at Radford: The Rams have moved up to D-I (OIA Red), but won't back down. They gave the Trojans all they could handle four years ago in a 27-21 loss at Mililani.
» Waipahu vs. McKinley at Roosevelt: Marauders running back Victor Moananu rumbled for 214 yards in a win over Nanakuli.
» Kalaheo at Nanakuli: Mustangs senior Jesse Carney, one of the state's top rushers last season, is one of six two-way starters.

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