Aloha Stadium Battle Brewing Saturday For Red Raiders

Since the start of camp in late July, this Saturday’s Kahuku-Farrington game (6:30 p.m. at Aloha Stadium; OC12) has been arguably the most-anticipated matchup of the season. An in-depth look at the game follows.

Offensive key to victory for Farrington As well as its defense has performed, Farrington’s best defense might be its offense. The run game has allowed it to play keep-away from the opposition’s offense to date. With spread sets largely the norm across the OIA, the Governors remain a throwback to the past with their downhill run game and two-back sets. The results have been impressive, as they average a whopping 285 yards on the ground per game behind a solid line and backs Abraham Silva and Tyler Taumua, who have combined for 19 rushing touchdowns so far. All signs point to the Governors needing to throw the ball effectively in this one, however, given the prowess of Kahuku’s front seven. Farrington’s sophomore quarter- back Montana Liana has been a great decision-maker so far with seven touchdown passes and only three interceptions through his first six games.

Defensive key to victory for Farrington Stop Kahuku running back Aofaga Wily. Defending Kahuku always begins with stop- ping its run game and forcing it to go to the air. That is obviously easier said than done. The Red Raiders’ list of weapons extends throughout their roster, but it all begins with Wily, who added some bulk to his frame in the off-season to go with his already-considerable skills. The best defensive job against Kahuku to date in 2012 was by Punahou in week one, but even the Buffanblu wore down in the second half as Kahuku remained true to its game plan, conceding 175 yards on the ground over the last two quarters to Wily and the physical Kahuku offensive line. The good news for Farrington is that it’s yielding only 38 yards on the ground, defensively, and not much more via the airwaves. If anyone in the state is built to match Kahuku’s physicality play-for- play, it just might be the Governors.

Offensive key to victory for Kahuku Get the ball to its play-makers. It goes without saying that Wily won’t find the holes he is accustomed to finding versus the Farrington defense, no matter how well his line stays on its blocks. Farrington’s linebackers flow to the ball well and mirror Kahuku’s own defensive stalwarts in quickness and physicality. But the Kahuku offense is a lot more than Wily. Indeed, the team simply hasn’t had to unleash the full complement of its playbook to date because the run game has met little resistance from opposing defenses. Quarterback Viliami Livai is a veteran behind center now and can make plays with his feet as well as his arm when he needs to. Given the chance, the Kahuku receiver corps (Kawehena Johnson, Polikapu Liua, Elijah Cabiles, Will Cravens and McKay Lewis) has the skills to present big-time matchup problems for everyone they play, including the Governors. Johnson is a big-time player who performs best in big games.

Defensive key to victory for Kahuku Generate a pass rush. It will be power versus power in the matchup between Farrington’s offensive line and Kahuku’s defensive front, and the Red Raiders aren’t likely to concede a lot — especially on the ground. That means the Governors’ best chance for offensive success is going to have to come through the air, most notably by way of quarterback Montana Liana keeping plays alive with his feet. No team on the schedule has yet forced it into obvious passing downs, so Kahuku’s edge here might be its ability to put the Govs in second-and-long and third-and-long situations — as they have against everyone on their 2012 schedule so far. While Liana has seven touchdown passes to his credit, he’s completing less than 50 percent of his passes. The Kahuku defense will be the best unit he has faced yet.

Key matchup to watch: Kahuku’s receiver corps versus Farrington’s secondary.

Did you know? Kahuku has won 26 of its last 27 games dating back to the start of the 2010 season. Its lone loss in that span came to Farrington (14-13) during last year’s regular season. Kahuku avenged that loss with a 23-0 win over the Govs in the OIA title game in November en route to winning the 2011 Division I state title.