POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Nov 26, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 02:27 a.m. HST, Nov 26, 2010
It's enough to make the normally stoic Danny Matsumoto a wee bit ... giddy?
"This has been a lot of fun for us. The boys are excited and having fun," the Waianae football coach said.
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The Seariders, even in their glory days of the long-gone Prep Bowl, weren't exactly known strictly for entertainment value. It was blue-collar, hardcore, physical punishment for opposing teams that showed up unprepared.
The same can be true today, but if the second-ranked Seariders are enjoying the fringe benefits of a lovely stay in Postseasonville, more power to them.
After all, they've endured their share of bumps in that long road from 96792 country.
» After a 13-6 home loss to Campbell, the Seariders were 0-3 overall.
» Then came a stunning, televised 42-28 win at then-No. 4 Mililani.
» Following a 9-6 loss to Aiea, again, at home, they were 1-5.
» By the time Waianae lost to Leilehua in the playoffs, it was 4-7 overall, slipping into the state tourney due to Kahuku's disqualification.
Two wins -- and 82 points of offense later -- the Seariders are the first team with a sub-.500 record to play for the D-I state crown.
That's enough to send any player, coach or fan floating to Cloud 9.
On paper: If there ever was a Rocky Balboa scenario, this would be it. ILH champion Saint Louis (10-1) averages more than 41 points a game and is on an eight-game win streak, including seven victories over Top 10 teams.
The Crusaders even walloped Waianae 42-3 in a nonconference matchup on Aug. 21. They're loaded with playmakers at almost every position on both sides of the ball, including Oregon-bound quarterback Marcus Mariota, who was 17-for-19 for 349 yards in a semifinal win over Leilehua. His passer rating was an almost inhuman 267.98 for the game and is 188.88 for the season.
His counterpart, Puletua Wilson, has an outstanding 156.11 passer rating, but his value goes beyond aerial strikes. Wilson's command of the wing-T and run-and-shoot pages of the Waianae playbook is sterling.
The skinny: If Saint Louis has any semblance of vulnerability, it might be up the middle. Kahuku racked up 49 points in a nonconference game in August against the Crusaders, who had also committed some uncharacteristic errors. One was a blocked punt by Kahuku.
Crusaders coach Darnell Arceneaux said his team learned greatly from those early-season glitches. So has Waianae, which saw its share of no-huddle, wide-open offenses and found good results, including two wins over league champion Mililani. Using offensive starters like Hookena Kamana and Jaylen Mitchell defensively in key situations has been a bonus, but Saint Louis' tempo is extremely fast and unrelenting.
Arceneaux hopes to neutralize Waianae's double-duty dynamos by using that no-huddle, quick-count attack.
"Their front four and their linebackers, they'll wreak some havoc and get to Marcus early," Arceneaux predicted.
Saint Louis isn't averse to multiple uses of premier athletes. Wide receiver Duke Bukoski figures to see action on defense.
X factor: Jesse Correa is the kickoff kicker for Saint Louis and often lands the ball deep in the end zone, creating instant field-position advantages for his team. Last week, two of the kickoffs landed exactly at the 1-yard line, leaving Leilehua with poor field position at the 13 after the returns.
Arceneaux claims it was just coincidence and not by design.
6-7, OIA third place
10-1, ILH D-I champion