West Prep Football Teams Kick Off The ‘Second Season’
Every game seemed like a playoff game this season for OIA Red West teams, given the balance in the league. Now the “second season” starts for real. Here is a look at the prospects for area prep football teams.
Record: 5-3 overall and 3-3 in the OIA Red West
Signature wins: Over Waipahu (39-34) and Leilehua (35-34)
What to watch: The Sabers enter post-season as seem- ingly one of the state’s most battle-tested teams after posting a 4-1 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. When the Sabers are clicking on offense, they keep their more-than-formidable defense off of the field for long stretches. Conversely, when the Sabers turn the ball over, their defense finds itself on the field far too long. Balance will be huge for this team. Campbell features a host of playmakers in quarterback Justin Tago- Su’e, running backs Paul- Andrew Rhoden and Tristan Pebria, and wide receivers Brannon Bantolina, Jayce Bantolina, Amosa Amosa Jr. and Kainoa Perry.
(Playoff hopes were pending last weekend’s results.) Record: 2-5 overall, 2-3 in the OIA Red West, heading into last weekend’s season finale with Mililani Signature wins: Over Kapolei (28-21) and Aiea (28-7)
What to watch: Waipahu rates as the most dangerous West team. Since day one, its offensive balance has been good, as it averages 163 yards a game on the ground and another 147 via the air. Much of its ability to move the ball begins with quarterback Kaimi Paredes, who has displayed the skills to beat defenses with both his arm and his feet. He is currently Waipahu’s leading rusher, complementing an already sound run game that also features backs Isaiah Alama and Matapua Tulafale. Defensively, the team is giving up about 100 yards on the ground per game.
(Playoff hopes were pend- ing last weekend’s results.) Record: 4-3 overall, 2-3 in the OIA Red West, heading into last weekend’s finale with Aiea Signature wins: Over Waianae (17-2) and Campbell (35-34)
What to watch: Just when it seemed like the Hurricanes were reeling following lopsided losses to Leilehua and Mililani, they rebounded inabigwaywithahuge win over rival Campbell in week five. Should Kapolei make the playoffs, it has two key things in its favor for the post-season: Its ability to stop the run on defense and to run the ball on offense. The defense is yielding only 90 yards per game on the ground. Offensively, the run game has been a forte, led by Jacob Kukahiko, Dylan Keomaka and Mana Reis. Quarterback Aizon Kahana and receivers Dylan Keomaka and Alton Julius balance out the offense.
(Playoff hopes were pending last weekend’s results.) Record: 3-4 overall, 1-4 in the OIA Red West, heading into last weekend’s finale with Kapolei Signature wins: Over Kaimuki (53-6) and Leilehua (18-6)
What to watch: After relinquishing 7 points per game defensively through its first four games, Na Ali‘i gave up 32 points per outing over the ensuing three weeks. Should they make the playoff cut, their greater task is to return to playing the kind of defense that they displayed in the early part of the season. Aiea’s run defense gives it a chance to dominate on that side of the ball again, as it’s giving up just 62 yards a game on the ground. Playing turnover-free and eliminating drive-stopping penalties is the key. Aiea’s run game remains its short passing game, so it will count on big contributions from its playmakers, which include quarterback Isaiah Hernandez-Fonoti, running back Mana Kaahanui and wide receiver Kamakana Apelu.