Area Teams Vie For Red West Ranking In Weekend Action

With five teams in the OIA Red West Conference having entered last week- end’ s action with at least one loss, the league race remains wide open.

With that in mind, this weekend’s games should help to unscramble the picture. A breakdown of those games follows.

Leilehua at Campbell — 7 p.m. Friday
Expect a playoff-type atmosphere for this long- awaited matchup, as both teams entered last week- end’s action tied for first in the Red West.

The game is perhaps even more critical for Campbell in its quest to win the division, since its bye comes in the final week of the regular season. Indeed, the Sabers have only a road date with rival Kapolei remaining (Sept. 28), while Leilehua has games left with Waipahu and Waianae.

A balanced offense, led by quarterback Justin Tago-Su’e and a host of playmakers (RBs Paul-Andrew Rhoden and Tristan Pebria and WRs Brannon Bantolina, Jayce Bantolina, Amosa Amosa Jr. and Kainoa Perry) has helped keep them afloat in the rugged Red West and should serve Campbell well this week.

Both teams have been in their share of close games to date — especially Leilehua, whose first four games were all decided by a score or less.

Soatightgameisa good bet here. The game’s outcome could hinge on special teams play.

Aiea at Waianae — 7 p.m. Friday
The schedule lines up nicely for Aiea down the stretch with four straight home games to close out the season.

This is the second in that stretch, including last weekend’s game with Waipahu. Still ahead are dates with Kapolei and Mililani, encounters that should have a huge impact.

Na Ali‘i’s best outing to date was its 18-16 triumph over then-still-unbeaten Leilehua Sept. 7.

No team in the league is playing better than Aiea at this moment, especially on the defensive side, where it’s yielding only 8.8 points per game for the year. The cornerstone of defensive play has been Aiea’s run defense, which has given up only 3.8 yards a game.

Offensively, the Aiea run game should be a key this week as it looks to balance out its passing game. That means Aiea will look for a big game from tailback Mana Kaahanui, who is aver- aging 5.6 yards per carry to go with seven touch- downs on the ground.

Kapolei at Mililani — 7 p.m. Friday
With its last four games of the season coming against teams still very much in the race (Leilehua, Mililani, Campbell and Aiea), the Hurricanes plainly control their own destiny. That stretch includes last week- end’s game with Leilehua, the defending Red West champion.

Take Kapolei’s first half versus Waipahu Aug. 25 out of the mix (when the Hurricanes had to sit three key starters in the first half because they had missed a practice), and the Hurricane defense has been as good as any unit in the league, having yielded a single score to Waianae (on a safety), McKinley and Pearl City in their other three games.

The Kapolei defense will need another strong effort on that side of the ball on this one as they face Mililani and its vet- eran quarterback Jarin Morikawa.

The good news is that they have a run game (192 yards per outing on the ground) behind backs Jacob Kukahiko, Mana Reis and Dylan Keomaka to keep the ball away from Mililani’s own explo- sive offense.

Kalaheo at Pearl City — 6 p.m. Saturday
While the Chargers may beoutofthemixfora White Conference title, they still have a chance to have a say in who does win the league crown.

Kalaheo is still very much alive, so Pearl City is nicely positioned to be the spoiler here.

The Chargers’ offense — most notably the pass- ing game — has been getting better week to week, so Pearl City’s best defense in this one may be its offense, which will need to possess the ball to keep Kalaheo’s offense off of the field for long stretches.

The Mustangs thrive with their run game, but that is good news for the Charger defense, whose strength so far in 2012 has been their run defense.

Pearl City is giving up 123 yards per game on the ground.