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OIA Revamp Means New Opponents in Windward Football

Prep football’s 2014 season will be one of new beginnings for Oahu Interscholastic Association, since the league crowned last year’s champions Kaiser (Division II) and Mililani (DI).

The league decided to mix East and West schools in dividing up its Red conference into two new divisions. (The White conference remained as is, with Kalaheo still in Division II.)

For Windward schools, it means the cooling of past rivalries, as Kailua won’t play Castle or Kahuku this year under the new format. The Surfriders now will face the likes of Aiea, Kapolei, Campbell and Mililani on a regular basis.

The off-season also saw changes in leadership at both Kahuku and Kailua. At Kahuku, Lee Leslie took over for Reggie Torres as head coach. At Kailua, longtime assistant and former pro-football player Joseph Wong took over for Gary Rosolowich, who retired after 10 seasons with the Surfriders.

With the opening of fall camp this week, we offer a guide below to the 2014 season for fans of Castle, Kailua, Kalaheo and Kahuku.

Toughest schedule:

Castle and Kailua. The longtime rivals won’t play each other this year because of the new OIA alignment, but they will have many new challenges, such as playing unfamiliar teams from the West. Castle’s first four opponents are Campbell at home, Waipahu away, Leilehua away and Kahuku at home. The back end of the slate also is demanding with Waianae, Kaiser and McKinley, but at least those three are at home.

Kailua will be put to the test early with road dates against Leilehua and Mililani. A home date with Aiea will follow, and then another brutal stretch on the road against Campbell and Kapolei sandwiched around a home game with defending OIA runner-up Farrington. The Surfriders’ finale is Sept. 27 at home with Moanalua, and it could loom large.

Most favorable schedule 1: Kahuku. The team has only two true road games — against Castle and Kaiser, in back-to-back weeks at mid-season.

The much-anticipated game against West power Leilehua will be at home, and Kahuku’s finale with Waianae will be at Aloha Stadium. Home games to begin the season against Kapolei and Waipahu should allow the Red Raiders to get off to a good start.

Most favorable schedule 2: Kalaheo. While the team has no true home advantage, the Mustangs’ slate looks favorable, as they open with five winnable games — Nanakuli away, Kalani at Kailua High, Waialua at Kailua, Anuenue at Kailua and Roosevelt away. It gets harder toward the end, facing Radford at Kailua, Kaimuki at Kaiser, and Pearl City away.

Must-see game 1: Kahuku versus Waianae at Aloha Stadium Oct. 4. This may be the marquee match-up of the new format. Both teams have high-profile programs with a history, even though they’ve usually been at the top of separate divisions.

During one 15-year run (1985-2000), either Kahuku or Waianae finished as OIA champion all but once. The schools just played last fall in the OIA Red quarterfinals, with Kahuku prevailing 45-20. This will be East versus West at its finest, and coming in the final week, a playoff atmosphere can be expected.

Must-see game 2: Kahuku at Castle Sept. 12. Between the renovation of Castle’s football stadium in 2012 and scheduling quirks, it seems like forever since the Knights got to play a home game against Kahuku. They’ll finally get their chance here, a month into the 2014 season. While the OIA format eliminates the Castle-Kailua game, a game against Kahuku is the next best thing.

Best game of week one:

Kapolei at Kahuku Aug. 15. Red Raider fans will get an early glimpse into the Lee Leslie era at Kahuku, and it will come against a worthy opponent, as Kapolei has been a consistent winner for much of its young history. Kapolei head coach Darren Hernandez also has two wins over Kahuku to his credit, including one as head coach at Campbell in the 1990s.

jackster.1969@yahoo.com

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