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  • Jamm Aquino
    2015 October 1 SPT - HSA Photo by Jamm Aquino.
  • Kamehameha's Kumoku Noa (7) pulls in a touchdown pass ahead of St. Louis' Ronson Timbreza (27) during the first half of an ILH football game between the St. Louis Crusaders and the Kamehameha Warriors on Thursday

Elimination isn’t exactly a fun word.

It is the right word, though, for prep football this weekend. Four OIA Division I playoff games will leave four losing teams hungry and done for the season. In the ILH, Kamehameha needs a win to stay alive in the second-half chase.

For the Warriors, it will probably be the most monumental challenge of the weekend: how to knock off unbeaten Punahou tonight at Aloha Stadium.

Kamehameha led early a week ago against Saint Louis and had the Crusaders on the ropes before falling 51-36.

That left Kamehameha (4-3, 1-3 ILH) at 0-1 in the second half of league play. A second-half mark of 2-1 — and a shot at the league title — is attainable for Kamehameha, but one more loss eliminates the boys in blue from title contention.

First-half winner Punahou has a berth in the ILH championship game. With a win over ‘Iolani last week, the Buffanblu also have a step up on the Warriors in the second-half race.

The last time the teams met, Punahou (7-0, 4-0) eked out a 28-17 victory. Justice Young, Kamehameha’s third-string QB, has been on the field and learning under fire. He has already set a school mark for single-game passing yardage — 381 yards against ‘Iolani — but felt the weight of last week’s struggle.

"I’m disappointed," he said after the loss to Saint Louis. "I feel like let down my teammates, the seniors. This is an important game and I just couldn’t step up."

Kamehameha has two fantastic playmakers in Fatu Sua-Godinet and Kumoku Noa. Sua-Godinet, the former starter at QB who as superb as a WR during summer camps, has 24 grabs for 279 yards and one TD. Noa has 39 receptions for 932 yards and 13 TDs. Both are electrifying kick returners.

Jaycob Cabunoc has been reliable with 38 hauls for 514 yards and four TDs.

Punahou’s defense, with all its first-time starters this season, has been consistent enough, and kicker/punter Jet Toner continues to be a huge weapon in field-goal range and field position. Kamehameha, with its nifty wrinkles and trick plays reminiscent of the Tom Landry-era Dallas Cowboys — coach Doug Cosbie was a three-time Pro Bowl tight end in those years — may have one more rabbit in the hat.

"We just keep grinding," Young said. "We have a chance. We just have to focus."


Keaau (0-7, 0-6 BIIF) vs. Hilo (4-4, 4-2), Wong Stadium — The Cougars’ winless season to date comes with the start of 8-man football at neighboring Pahoa. The Vikings’ three-game win streak was stopped by Kealakehe (30-29) last week. That home loss could put the Viks’ title defense in jeopardy even more. The top seed in D-I will have home field during the playoffs, and Kealakehe clinched first place with the victory.


No. 2 Saint Louis (5-1, 3-1 ILH) vs. ‘Iolani (2-5, 0-4), Aloha Stadium — The Raiders may be winless in league play, but they gave Punahou fits last week. Three weeks ago, Saint Louis couldn’t shake them and managed a 28-17 win.

The Crusaders should have starting QB Tua Tagovailoa taking on Iolani for the first time this season. The junior has been hampered by a calf injury. The state’s most heavily recruited junior averages 282 passing yards and 52 rushing yards per game and has accounted for 20 combined TDs.

Raiders WR/PK Keoni-Kordell Makekau (42 catches, 548 yards, four TDs) suffered a shoulder injury in last week’s 35-23 loss to Punahou.

Castle (3-5, 3-4 OIA Red) at No. 7 Kapolei (5-3, 4-3 OIA Blue) — Willie Ewaliko and the Knights come to the Leeward Coast without intimidating size or numbers. What coach Nelson Maeda’s team brings, as always, is a puncher’s chance. Ewaliko has passed for 1,559 yards and 20 TDs — with 14 interceptions — in a fearless, relentless way that has long been part of Castle’s identity.

The fact that the Knights are a threat even without much of a ground game — Ewaliko is the team’s leader in rushing yardage with 111 — is no surprise. Senior Jeremy McGoldrick has piled up 40 catches for 665 yards and 15 TDs, defying all logic. Kainalu Moya (24, 314) is second in receptions and receiving yardage.

Kapolei’s defense has transformed into a lockdown unit. The arrival of Ezra Savea from offense to defense has been a key factor. The Hurricanes have not permitted more than seven points in their last three games.

That stingy defense has coupled well with a ball-control offense in the hands of freshman QB Taulia Tagovailoa. He has passed for 1,894 yards and 15 TDs with eight picks. Four ‘Canes have at least 20 receptions each, led by Jaymin Sarono (48 catches, 494 yards, five TDs) and Ty-Noah Williams (38, 684, five). L.J. Esperas has been key as a RB who gets out and busy. Esperas has rushed for 277 yards and also has 30 catches for 422 yards.

St. Francis (3-4, 1-2 ILH D-II) vs. Damien (5-0, 2-0), Aloha Stadium — The young Saints are a work in progress. A very promising work. The program’s intermediate team just won the ILH D-II title, but the varsity remains young, though competitive. Damien can win its first ILH D–II title since 2003 with a win. The Monarchs outlasted the Saints 21-6 three weeks ago.

Leilehua (3-5, 3-4 OIA Red) at Moanalua (3-5, 2-5 OIA Blue) — The Mules are, in a way, a prime example of what the OIA’s second season means. Eight years ago, they were a .500 team heading into the playoffs before a startling young sophomore named Andrew Manley guided them past an unbeaten Mililani squad en route to the league and state titles.

This year’s mighty Mules got a lift on Monday when QB Kona Andres (concussion symptoms) was cleared to practice and play. Andres, who began the season as a reserve, has thrown for 1,405 yards, 15 TDs and 14 interceptions. While learning on the job, his mobility has given Leilehua an extra gear. His main targets have been Tyreek Keough (36 catches, 443 yards, five TDs) and slotback Anthony Ugalino (34, 240, 4).

The Mules have a swarming defense that includes elite defensive back Charles Watson. The unit will be tested by a Moanalua offense that has a nimble-footed, deep-ball throwing QB in Alaka’i Yuen. The gritty slinger has passed for 1,856 yards and 19 TDs with just eight picks despite suffering a neck stinger earlier in the season.

Coach Jason Cauley would love to balance the offense. Having Michael Feliciano in the backfield has been key. The senior has rushed for 757 yards and 13 TDs, and his ability to run routes had led to 38 receptions for 510 yards and five more TDs.

Brandon Bender has been a big-play target with 452 yards and five TDs on just 18 catches.

Waipahu (1-6, 1-6 OIA Red) at Kailua (6-2, 5-2 OIA Blue) — On paper, the visiting Marauders may have the right antidote to stop the surging Surfriders. First-year head coach Bryson Carvalho’s team embraces the spread option. Blaise DeAsis has steered the attack, which features at least five Marauders who have run the ball at least 31 times. Though their record doesn’t reflect it, the Marauders have taken a step forward offensively, scoring at least 28 points four times this fall. That includes 32 against Castle, 34 on Kaiser and 28 on a rugged Waianae run defense.

The Surfriders know what turnarounds are about. After going winless a year ago, they have thrived in Joe Wong’s second season at the helm. Noah Auld has thrown for 1,667 yards and 23 TDs with just three picks. The tall, speedy senior has been selective and smart about risk, running for first downs at precisely the right time.

A committee of RBs (Gabriel LeLesch, Mark Lagazo, Dalton Kalama) has been effective out of Kailua’s spread formation. For all of Auld’s success through the air, the Surfriders are almost exactly at 50-50 in run-pass ratio. It’s the deep ball and the breakaway threats at receiver that put the Surfriders in a different class.

Martin Tigilau (37 receptions, 581 yards, 11 TDs) is often the focal point of defensive game plans, but Noah Ah Yat (32, 273, one) and Isaiah Damo-Agcaoili (29, 422, three) are consistent targets, too. Koolau Gaspar is patient and clutch. The tall WR has just 10 catches, but five of them have been for TDs.

Radford (8-0, 7-0 OIA D-II) at Waialua (5-3, 4-3) — It’s fair to say that a team with a D-I level defense, a dual-threat QB (Quintin Iriarte), two highly productive RBs (Ace Faumui, Kodi Ongory-Mathias) and at least two WRs (Thomas Reid, Blaise Manabe) with college prospects should dominate D-II. Radford may be due for a letdown after a decisive win over Nanakuli. Waialua is in a tight spot. A win would clinch fourth place and the final playoff berth in OIA D-II. A Waialua loss plus a win by Kalani over Nanakuli would give Kalani that last playoff berth.

Kaimuki (5-3, 5-2 OIA D-II) at Roosevelt (3-5, 2-5) — The Bulldogs are on a four-game win streak after last week’s 24-0 win over Kalaheo. Billy Masima (546 rushing yards, three TDs) has emerged as a force.

Roosevelt has not played since Sept. 18 thanks to a bye week and a forfeit win over Anuenue. Shayne Teruya (46 receptions, 531 yards, seven TDs) has been integral to the Rough Riders offense.

Roosevelt won last year’s matchup, 26-16, ending a six-game losing streak to Kaimuki.

Baldwin (4-3, 4-1 MIL) at Kamehameha-Maui (3-4, 3-3) — The Bears have become dominant on defense (11 points allowed in their last three games). With a looming showdown against Maui next week, the Bears don’t want to look past the Warriors.

Honokaa (2-6, 2-4 BIIF) at Konawaena (7-1, 5-1) — The Wildcats’ Algene Kelokolio has picked up speed as one of the top RBs in the BIIF.

Waiakea (2-7, 2-4 BIIF) at Kealakehe (6-3, 5-1) — The Waveriders have top seeding in the D-I playoffs locked up. Riggs Kurashige returned to rush for 67 yards, catch three passes for 112 yards and score two touchdowns in last week’s big road win at Hilo.


Campbell (1-7 OIA Blue) at Kaiser (4-4, 4-3 OIA Red) — The Sabers’ long season of youthful struggle may pay off. Running back Terell Johnson is regaining the form that made him a breakaway threat. With Johnson healthy, the underdogs might give Kaiser a battle on its home field. Kawika Ulufale’s first season as a starter has been positive with 992 passing yards and 13 TDs, as well as a 54 percent completion rate. Noah Esprecion has been busy and reliable with 50 receptions for 605 yards and four TDs.

Kaiser’s weaponry has been exciting. Despite thin numbers compared to recent seasons, they have versatility and explosiveness with Nic Tom at quarterback and Jensen McDaniel in the backfield. Tom has completed 70 of his 111 pass attempts for 704 yards and seven TDs. Tom has also rushed for 567 yards and six more TDs. He starts at cornerback and is one of the OIA’s top kick returners.

McDaniel led the OIA Red in rushing for a second year in a row. The senior has rushed for 970 yards and 12 TDs. With Parker Higgins, who starts at linebacker, bringing depth at RB (425 yards, four TDs), Kaiser has leaned heavily on an offensive line led by the state’s most heavily recruited player, OL/DT Michael Eletise, a commit to Arizona.

Kalani (4-4, 4-3 OIA D-II) at Nanakuli (6-2, 6-1) — The Golden Hawks don’t need this win, at least on paper. They’ve got second place locked up. Kalani needs a win to keep playoff hopes alive. This will be just the second home game of the year for Nanakuli.

Pearl City (2-5, 2-5 OIA D-II) vs. Kalaheo (2-6, 2-5), Alex Kane Stadium — The Chargers’ run of playoff berths comes to a halt this season, but coach Robin Kami’s team was close. There was a 27-23 loss to Waialua and a 41-34 overtime loss to Nanakuli.

Kapaa (6-0, 4-0 KIF) vs. Kauai (1-5, 1-3), Vidinha Stadium — Kauai’s win over Waimea last week — the first of the season for the Red Raiders — sealed Kapaa’s latest league title. Kapaa has beaten Kauai twice so far by a combined score of 77-0.

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