POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Sep 24, 2010
Oh, there have been seasons when 'Iolani vs. Punahou had less spotlight -- or sunshine -- and was more of interest to alums, less so to a statewide audience.
It is one of the more historic arch rivalries on any football field in the islands, but for roughly two decades, Saint Louis practically owned its foes in the powerful Interscholastic League of Honolulu.
But that was then. The Punahou Buffanblu are a perennial contender and the 'Iolani Raiders have won four Division II state crowns in a row. The Raiders have also knocked off traditionally stronger programs every season for some time now. This year, they've already beaten defending D-I state champ Kamehameha, though the Warriors have dealt with massive losses to graduation and injuries.
When the two teams meet at Punahou's Alexander Field this afternoon, there may be another factor beyond personnel and schemes: hydration. There has been, seemingly, much more cramping this season. Though tradewinds have apparently returned, neither team is willing to lose a key player in what could be a very close game.
Punahou lost prolific running back Steven Lakalaka to cramps in both legs during a loss to Saint Louis last week. 'Iolani has had its share of cramps. Today's kickoff is at 3:15 p.m. -- there are no lights at Alexander Field -- which could mean more cramping than usual.
Saint Louis coach Darnell Arceneaux offered this advice for Punahou coach Kale Ane, who openly asked for suggestions this week.
"It could be the Monster and Red Bull," Arceneaux said of the energy drinks consumed by various players at any school. "Those aren't good. Kids are tanking that stuff and cramping up."
Many energy drinks contain taurine, guarana root and other energy boosters, but they also include high doses of caffeine, which some contend causes fluid loss.
Here are the matchups for this weekend's games:
Today's OIA games follow 5 p.m. JV games, unless noted; tomorrow's OIA games follow 4 p.m. JV games
» No. 1 Kahuku at Moanalua: Na Menehune (3-2, 2-1 Oahu Interscholastic Association) have held their own against run-first teams, allowing just 22 total points against Punahou and Kaiser. However, the Red Raiders have a passing game to complement the power of running backs Aofaga Wily and Tyrone Brown. So far, Kahuku (5-0, 3-0) has proven that it won't be distracted or overconfident against teams with the will to compete. A defense led by linebackers T.J. Tito and Ben Mamea has shut out the last two OIA Red East foes.
» No. 2 Saint Louis vs. Pac-Five, 5 p.m., Aloha Stadium: The Crusaders (4-1, 3-0 ILH) would be happy to finish this game intact with a win, and the most efficient way would be to pound the tough Wolfpack on the ground. Led in part by linebackers Ben Keller, Joshua Donovan and defensive back Kelly Meguro, the 'Pack have shown resilience; Punahou had 3 points at the half and 'Iolani had seven. A lack of offensive consistency has been one of the keys that has Pac-Five (1-4, 0-2) looking up in the D-II race. The Crusaders had more than a 2:1 pass-run ratio last week with 33 rushing attempts and 16 passes..
» Aiea at No. 3 Mililani (follows 4:30 p.m. JV game): Gang Green, or Na Alii, have banged heads with some of the best in the OIA Red West. Tonight, they get to chase one of the state's most dynamic playmakers in Mililani quarterback Trent McKinney. Aiea (3-2, 1-2) shook up the West with a win at Waianae two weeks ago, but needs a win to keep pace with playoff-bound contenders. Coach Wendell Say's teams used to air it out. Now, Aiea grinds its out, relying on a physical defense and a quarterback (Freddy Taliulu) with the mentality of a middle linebacker. Na Alii have surrendered only 9.7 points per game in league play. Mililani (4-1, 2-1) is averaging 38 points per game.
» No. 5 'Iolani at No. 4 Punahou, 3:15 p.m.: The Raiders (5-1, 3-0 ILH) were senior-heavy and bulky up the middle last year, when they trounced the Buffanblu 35-12. They haven't missed a beat even with injuries and graduation. Sophomore quarterback Reece Foy has had ups, eluding Kamehameha's potent front four in a 13-6 win, and downs with three picks against Pac-Five. He'll be tested by an athletic front seven. Punahou (3-1, 1-1) stayed close with Saint Louis last week by using defensive players DeForest Buckner, K.T. Tuumalo and Luke Kaumatule on offense. How much they can contribute on both sides of the ball on a hot afternoon is a big question.
» No. 6 Leilehua at Radford: This traditional rivalry was mostly a nonconference matchup in recent years, but the Rams (3-2, 2-1 OIA) are back in D-I and upsetting the food chain. Quarterback Maika Ulufale was pinpoint accurate in a win at Campbell last week, but the Mules will be ready. Leilehua coach Nolan Tokuda took in all the action and did his own videotaping. The Mules (3-1, 3-0) have relied heavily on an agile, unpredictable defensive unit. They may stop Radford running back Phil Hogan (14 carries, 8 yards last week), but Ulufale's field awareness is key.
» Roosevelt at No. 7 Castle: The Rough Riders have endured injuries at key positions, but they have enough athleticism to stay with the speedy Knights. Few offenses, though, are gliding at warp speed as well as Castle (4-1, 2-1 OIA), which rung up 29 points on Farrington and 30 on Kaiser. Castle's offense, featuring Jaymason Lee (1,152 yards, eight touchdown passes), is up against a unit that gave up 41 points to pass-first Kailua. Roosevelt (0-5, 0-3) has alternated quarterbacks in recent weeks.
» Damien vs. No. 10 Kamehameha, 7:45 p.m. Aloha Stadium: The Warriors (2-3, 0-2 ILH) have endured a stretch of offensive struggle (35 points in three games) that is somewhat similar to last year -- before then-quarterback T.C. Campbell caught fire. The Monarchs (0-5, 0-3) scored a touchdown in the nonconference opener at Aiea and haven't scored since.
» No. 9 Kailua at Kaiser: The Cougars (0-6, 0-4 OIA) are easily the best winless team in Hawaii. With running back Josh Gonda back in the lineup, they came close to knocking off Castle and Moanalua. They even gave Farrington a battle a month ago. Kailua (4-2, 3-1) is a team on a roll. A rugged defense has been bolstered by the move of former quarterback Chevy Mikaele to D-end as the offense made a tremendous transition from power-running, I-formation sets to a wide-open shotgun attack. Sophomore Kahaku Iaea showed great promise early on in scrimmages, made his youthful mistakes, and is now capitalizing on opportunity. Iaea passed for 303 yards last week in a 31-15 win over Farrington.
» Kapolei at Campbell: Sabers quarterback Nilo Agbayani-Omalza shows improvement in the run-and-shoot. If the Sabers (2-4, 1-3 OIA) can hang on to his spirals -- they dropped seven passes against Radford -- this rivalry matchup with the Hurricanes (1-5, 1-3) could be theirs to win.
» Anuenue at Nanakuli, 6 p.m. varsity only: Na Koa (1-4, 1-3) are scoring points again -- 36 in a win over McKinley and 26 in a loss to Waialua despite one of the smallest rosters in the state. Nanakuli (0-5, 0-5) hasn't scored since late August.
» Hawaii Prep at Konawaena: Ka Makani (4-1, 3-1 BIIF) sustained a stunning overtime loss at KS-Hawaii last week, but perhaps more damaging was a leg injury suffered by quarterback Keanu Yamamoto. The Wildcats (1-5, 1-3) have one of the youngest lineups in the BIIF.
» Kamehameha-Hawaii at Ka'u: Shades of Mana Silva. The Warriors (5-1, 5-0 BIIF) are playing almost as well as they did when Silva, now a UH safety, was their strong-armed quarterback. Last week's thrilling win over HPA was pivotal. Daniel Grant-Johnson saved the day with two field goals, including a 26-yarder in overtime to win it. The Trojans (2-2, 2-2 BIIF) bounced back from a lopsided loss to HPA two weeks ago by outscoring Kohala on the road.
» Baldwin vs. Maui, War Memorial Stadium: Ceejay Santos continues to impress. The senior booted a 50-yard field goal last month at Kailua, and in a 27-20 win over Lahainaluna last week, he drilled a 53-yarder with room to spare. Still, coaches and media voted the Bears (4-1, 3-0 MIL) out of the Star-Advertiser Top 10. Maui (1-3, 0-3) has not been the same since 1) Coach Curtis Lee retired, 2) Robert Kemfort was a classic I-formation tailback, and 3) King Kekaulike opened its doors. The pipeline of big linemen from Upcountry is long, long gone.
» Waipahu vs. Kalaheo, Kailua H.S. field: Mustangs running back/linebacker Jesse Carney has nearly 1,000 rushing yards, but the Marauders (3-1, 2-1 OIA) have a wrecking ball of their own in Victor Moananu. If Carney is at full strength, the Mustangs (3-1, 3-1 OIA) could be a lethal threat against a Waipahu defense that gave up 34 points to McKinley's misdirection-loaded offense a month ago.
» Pearl City at Waialua: The Chargers (5-0, 4-0 OIA) are one of two programs with unbeaten (overall) records that have yet to crack the Top 10. Their biggest win came in mid-August, a 14-7 victory over Kapolei. Unfortunately, for the Chargers and their loyal fans, Kapolei has struggled since and voters haven't taken much notice of PC. The proud Bulldogs, meanwhile, are 2-3 in OIA White play (2-4 overall) and need a win to stay in the playoff race. Waialua is tough at home (2-1).
» Kaimuki vs. Kalani, Kaiser Stadium: Last week's win over Kalaheo boosted the Bulldogs (5-1, 4-0 OIA) in the White Conference standings. The Falcons (0-5, 0-4) have shown more firepower offensively with nearly 300 total yards in a loss to Kalaheo two weeks ago. Stopping Kaimuki running back Chester Sua (723 yards, 8 yards per carry, six touchdowns) is a mystery for most defenses.
» Honokaa at Kohala: The Dragons (2-4, 2-2 BIIF) bulldozed Konawaena for 347 rushing yards in a 45-0 win last week. Kohala (0-4, 0-4 BIIF) is coming off losses to Konawaena and Ka'u and faces the possibility of its first winless season in a long time.
» Kapaa at Kauai, Vidinha Stadium: The Red Raiders, along with Pearl City, are still unbeaten (4-0, 2-0 KIF), but lacking statewide recognition. They barely got by Kapaa in a 13-7 win four weeks ago. The Warriors (3-1, 1-1) turned into title contenders with the arrival of former Kauai coach Kelii Morgado two years ago, but a loss this weekend to the Red Raiders would be a backbreaker.
» Lahainaluna at Kamehameha-Maui: The Lunas 3-1 (2-1 MIL) gave up more points in last week's loss to Baldwin (27) than they had in their first three games (18). The Warriors (3-1, 2-1 MIL) can regain traction in the MIL race with another win under first-year coach Kevin O'Brien.