Chargers To Play Kaiser Friday For OIA White Football Title

There are some things you guess at, some you assume and some you just know. A breakdown of this Friday’s OIA White championship between Pearl City and Kaiser at Aloha Stadium follows. (Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m.)

Setting the stage – Why to watch:

After a 40-8 loss to Kalani in their White Conference opener, the Pearl City Chargers have been written off by many in the football community as a contender for the league title. But head coach Robin Kaimi and his team stayed the course. What followed was a riveting run that has included seven wins in their last eight games. The only loss in that stretch came Oct. 4 to – you guessed it – Kaiser (31-6).

For their part, Kaiser has been on a mission to make the OIA title game ever since last year’s conference semifinals, when it squandered a 21-0 half-time lead at home to Nanakuli, eventually losing the game. Since a preseason loss to Division I Campbell, Kaiser has reeled off nine straight wins (two by forfeit). The good news for both teams is that life will go on after this game, since both already have clinched berths in the upcoming Division II state football championships.

Defensive key to victory for Pearl City: Generate a pass rush. Like the Chargers’ own offense, which has hit its stride by being balanced, Kaiser’s offense is clicking best when it’s setting up the run via the pass and utilizing its short passing game as its run-game. Pearl City’s hopes for an upset could hinge on applying pressure up front to attempt to disrupt Kaiser’s offensive rhythm. Task No. 2 for the Charger defense will be its ability to tackle in space and not allow short pass completions to turn into plays that cover big chunks of yardage. Eliminating the quick score will be huge for Pearl City this week. It needs to make Kaiser go the long hard route for scores and force turnovers, if possible.

Offensive key to victory for Pearl City: Possess the ball and play turnover-free. The Chargers’ best defense in this one could be its offense if it can move the chains and hold onto the ball with long possessions, thus keeping the explosive Kaiser offense off the field for extended periods of time. Pearl City’s offense has relied on balance all season as it enters the OIA title game averaging 128 yards on the ground and 137 in the air. A balanced attack will be needed again here to sustain long drives and provide the scoring it needs to get the win. In Pearl City’s regular-season loss to Kaiser, it was limited to just 13 yards on the ground, but averaged 4.7 yards per play in the passing game. Look for Pearl City to turn its short passing game into its run-game for this encounter to help keep the Kaiser defensive front from locking in and loading up the box. First downs will be huge for Pearl City as it looks to keep its play-calling from becoming predictable.

Defensive key to victory for Kaiser: Tackle in space. Having held the Chargers to a mere 13 yards on the ground in the Oct. 4 game, Kaiser has to feel good about its run defense as it enters this contest. Pearl City is dangerous in the passing game, however, and has the weapons to turn short gains into big plays, so Kaiser needs to limit the Chargers’ yards after a catch.

Offensive key to victory for Kaiser: Like the Chargers, Kaiser found the yardage hard to come by with its own run game Oct. 4. Kaiser was able to move 200 yards through the air that night and will likely attack the Pearl City defense by missing up the short- to medium-range pass routes, while also spreading the field. Seven different receivers caught passes for Kaiser in its Oct. 4 win, The Cougars also need to play turnover-free and eliminate drive-stopping penalties. Indeed, the only team to stop the Kaiser offense to date has been Kaiser itself.

Key matchup to watch: Pearl City’s defensive front versus the Kaiser offensive line.