Chargers Must Focus Going Into Friday’s Nanakuli Game

As the Pearl City football team awaits its visit from Kalani at 7:30 p.m. Friday for its homecoming game, keeping distractions to a minimum is high on its to-do list, according to head coach Robin Kami.

“We’ll have to keep the kids focused,” said Kami, whose team was 5-0 entering last weekend’s game with Nanakuli.

“They have a parade, a bonfire, an (all-school) assembly. Hopefully, by Friday we can get them back to thinking about football.”

Being in the mix for an OIA White championship should help the Chargers stay the course.

And as far as distractions go, Kami’s team already has overcome a big one this season.

They endured a 22-day break from action last month that threatened to undermine momentum. Pearl City’s normal bye week was followed by an unexpected week off when Anuenue was forced to forfeit its game with the Chargers.

Pearl City returned to play in a big way, however, defeating Radford, 34-26, to stay in a tie atop the league with Nanakuli.

“When we had 22 days off, we told the kids that we would be rusty and that we had to hang in there and believe that we would be all right (against Radford),” said Kami. “Once the game started, we thought that we would be all right.”

Friday’s opponent, Kalani, is well-known to Kami and his staff.

The teams met twice last season with Kalani winning the regular-season game 40-8, before the Chargers returned the favor in the OIA White semifinals, beating the Falcons 28-14.

A year ago, Kalani rode its passing game to the post-season. This year, it has taken a different tack.

“They’ve changed it up, and now they have a big fullback (Ace Faumui), so they are running more,” said Kami. “They’re not one-dimensional anymore. Hopefully, our defense will do a great job and create some turnovers.”

Most recently, Faumui ripped through Kaimuki’s defense for 180 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 21-20 win over the Bulldogs. He has topped the 100-yard mark in all three of his starts at running back.

The good news for the Chargers is that they will counter with a defense that has been among the best in the state at stopping the run, yielding just 44 yards per game on the ground.

“They’ve given our offense good field position,” Kami said. “That helps our offense out a lot.”

Offensively, the Chargers will look for another balanced night.

The Jordan Taamu-led offense is averaging 157 rushing and 167 yards passing per game.

Taamu entered last weekend having thrown for 10 touchdowns already with only one interception. He’s also gaining six yards a carry rushing.

“Jordan’s doing a great job of reading defenses and knowing always what we want to do,” Kami said. “It helps when you have a good running back like Dominic (Maneafaiga).”

Maneafaiga is averaging 8.6 yards per carry and has six rushing touchdowns. He’s also hauled in four touchdown passes.

Pearl City’s depth in the offensive line has paid huge dividends to date.

It’s currently rotating seven players up front, including Kordell Vaa, Bronson Canyon, Chase Manzano, Jason Pong, Jonoah Moe, Andrew Ganancial and Zacary Jones.

“They’ve done a great job,” Kami said of the line.

Following the Kalani game, Pearl City has one game left versus Kalaheo Oct. 10.