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High School Football Back On The Grid For Windward Teams

The long days of summer conditioning will all change this week for prep players as they all finally get to play preseason football. Previews of this weekend’s games for all four Windward high schools are below.

Campbell at Kahuku, 8:30 p.m. Friday

The lead story line of this matchup is that it marks the beginning of the Lee Leslie era for the Red Raiders. Leslie, who comes to Kahuku following a successful stint in Utah, was hired in the spring. Kahuku won’t have any trouble generating motivation for this game since it lost to Campbell 28-7 in the OIA Division I third-place game last November — a defeat that saw it miss the state tournament for the first time in four years.

Conversely, the win gave Campbell a first-ever DI state berth. The Sabers, who finished 9-4 in 2013, are beginning a month-long stretch playing against teams from the East under the OIA’s new scheduling format. After this game, they play at Castle, and then host Moanalua and Kailua back-to-back.

Both teams struggled to move the ball on the ground in last November’s game, each averaging less than 2.5 yards per carry. So the team that can come up with the most plays in the passing game Friday night should have the upper hand, if rushing yards are hard to come by.

Pearl City at Castle, 8:30 p.m. Friday

Castle hopes this pre-season matchup with Division II Pearl City can help set the tone. The Knights’ schedule is unforgiving for the first month, with road trips to Waipahu and Leilehua sandwiched between home dates against Campbell and Kahuku. A win here would be a huge boost for Castle, which went 3-6 a year ago.

In playing Pearl City, the Knights will definitely be tested. The Chargers were the Division II runner-up to Kaiser last fall en route to a state tournament appearance.

Like the Knights, the Chargers also run the spread offense to take advantage of their speed and quickness. Defending against Pearl City quarterback Jordan Taamu, who was one of the OIA White’s most capable last fall with 1,649 passing yards (and 11 touchdowns) and 173 rushing yards, will be among the Knights’ top priorities.

Kailua at Waipahu, 8:30 p.m. Friday

Like Kahuku, the Surfrider Nation is beginning a new era, as is Joseph Wong, in his first year as Kailua head coach. A longtime assistant at the school, Wong played in the NFL for Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders.

The Surfriders had one of the younger OIA teams a year ago and finished 2-7 overall (2-4 in OIA Red East).

Should Kailua have a breakthrough season, it will have earned it, as its schedule is one of the toughest in the state, especially in the first month. Following this game, it plays back-to-back road games against new division opponents Leilehua and Mililani, the defending OIA Red champ. A home date with Aiea follows before another tough road game at Campbell.

The Marauders, who finished just 2-7 a year ago (1-5 in OIA Red West), also have a demanding schedule, facing Farrington, Kahuku, Castle and Kaiser in a row.

Kamehameha-Hawaii versus Kalaheo, 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Kailua

A date with Division I KS-Hawaii might be the perfect tune-up for Kalaheo, which faces one of the season’s biggest challenges in week two, when the Division II Mustangs will travel to Nanakuli for their OIA White opener.

The Mustangs, who went 2-7 overall last fall, are led by senior quarterback Jack Bell. KS-Hawaii finished 5-5 overall (4-4 in the BIIF conference) in 2013.

Email Jack Danilewicz at jackster.1969@yahoo.com

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