Every Game Matters To Windward Prep Football Teams
It may be only week two in Hawaii prep football, but for the Windward schools, every game is akin to a playoff, as each team hopes to continue playing deep into November.
A look at this weekend’s games is below. Note that games may have been cancelled because of tropical storms hitting the island at press time.
Campbell at Castle, 6 p.m. Friday
Will this be the year the Knights return to the high-rent district of island football? They were only a handful of plays away from a much better fate in the win-loss column last year and are hoping that five home games will help this time. Castle was to play Division II Pearl City last weekend at home as a tuneup for this one. Road trips to Waipahu and Leilehua follow, but three of the Knights’ last four games also are at home.
While Castle is in rebuild mode, Campbell is steadily building success on the West side, including last fall’s 9-4 season. These two teams used to play each other regularly in preseason and will continue to play periodically in cross-over contests now that they’re both in Division I again under the OIA’s new format.
Kapolei at Kahuku, 8:30 p.m. Friday
The Red Raiders and new head coach Lee Leslie are in the midst of a three-game home stand that began last weekend with a much-anticipated OIA cross-over game against Blue conference foe Campbell. Following this game, Kahuku hosts Waipahu Aug. 22. Although it’s early in the league race, every game will be critical for Kahuku, which hopes to still be undefeated by the time it plays perennial powers Leilehua and Waianae in the final two weeks.
This game is a home-coming of sorts for first-year Kapolei offensive coordinator Darren Johnson, who was a Kahuku quarterback in his playing days. In addition to successful stints as head coach at both Kailua and Kaimuki, Johnson was a Kahuku assistant coach off and on through the years, including last season, when he served under Reggie Torres.
Kapolei, which was to play Kealakehe on Hawaii island last weekend, went 3-3 in the old OIA Red West last year. Longtime Hurricane head coach Darren Hernandez has posted two of the biggest wins of his career against the Red Raiders, including one when he was still head coach at his alma mater, Campbell. This game marks the beginning of a brutal stretch for the Hurricanes, who play Farrington and defending OIA champion Mililani the next two weekends.
Kailua v. Leilehua, noon Saturday at Aloha Stadium
There’s no better time and place for Kailua to make a strong, early statement in the Joseph Wong era. Although Leilehua is coming off an uncharacteristic 4-6 season, the Mules and longtime head coach Nolan Tokuda have been one of the OIA’s most consistent programs over the past decade. A win over the Mules at Aloha Stadium would be a huge boost. (Kailua has another big chance to make an early impact next weekend against Mililani.)
Kailua had one of the youngest teams in the OIA a year ago and finished 2-7 overall. It was to play Waipahu last weekend in its 2014 opener, while Leilehua opened against defending Division I champion Punahou.
Kickoff is the earliest of any starting time for both teams.
Kalaheo at Nanakuli, 6:30 p.m. Saturday
This game is one of the early showdowns in the OIA White. Nanakuli quietly has been building momentum the past couple of years, finishing 2012 as the OIA DII runner-up to Radford (as well as qualifying for the DII state tournament) before another solid season in 2013. For their part, the Mustangs are hoping for a better season after finishing 2-7 last year. A road win here could figure big in its season, given its schedule. With games versus Kalani, Waialua, Anuenue and Roosevelt next, the Mustangs could make a nice run before a much-anticipated matchup with Radford Sept. 26. Kalaheo and Nanakuli have split their last two meetings. Kalaheo prevailed 24-21 in 2012, while Nanakuli took last year’s game 27-14.