Football Kicks Off Next Month With New West Matchups

In prep football, playing against an unfamiliar opponent is an added challenge — and a common occurrence in the OIA Red conference this fall, after the league realigned its two divisions in the off-season. It decided to mix East and West schools, eliminating some established rivalries, but creating exciting new matchups. (The White conference, which includes Pearl City, remained as is in Division II.)

With schools beginning fall camp, a guide to the 2014 season is below.

Toughest schedule:

Kapolei. If it’s any consolation, the Hurricanes’ schedule ensures that they will at least have the chance to make an immediate impact. A trip to Kahuku kicks it all off Aug. 15. The following week, it’s Farrington on a neutral field (at Roosevelt). Week three, Kapolei is at home to face defending OIA champion Mililani. Home games with Moanalua, Campbell and Kailua follow, with a final road date Oct. 4 at Aiea.

Most favorable schedule 1: Aiea. While trips to Kaiser and Kailua in successive opening weeks could prove challenging — not to mention the Farrington game on a neutral site in week three, the back end of Na Ali’i’s schedule looks favorable, with three home games in the last four weeks against Mililani, Campbell and Kapolei. The outcome of Aiea’s Sept. 19 road game at Moanalua also could figure big.

Most favorable schedule 2: Campbell. The Sabers are set up for an early-season run with very winnable games against Castle (Aug. 15 away), Moanalua (Aug. 22 at home) and Kailua (Sept. 5 at home), before Kapolei (Sept. 12 away) and Mililani (Sept. 19 at home).

Must-see game 1:

Campbell versus Farrington Oct. 4 at Aloha Stadium. This is a chance to settle some unfinished business for Campbell. The Sabers were only a couple of plays away from a better fate in their 7-0 loss to the Governors in last fall’s OIA semifinals. This game also will be the season finale for both.

Must-see game 2:

Campbell at Kapolei Sept. 12. This is one rivalry game that survived OIA’s new format. This one always is hotly contested, and the two teams have played some of the most entertaining games in recent years.

Best game of week one:

Kapolei at Kahuku Aug. 15. A trip to Red Raider country is akin to an event, not just a football game, since playing Kahuku is the greatest measuring stick for any program. Kapolei head coach Darren Hernandez has posted a pair of wins over Kahuku in his tenure.

Newcomer to watch:

Darren Johnson, who had successful stints as head coach at Kailua and Kaimuki, was named Kapolei’s new offensive coordinator. He replaces Jason Cauley, who is now Moanalua’s head coach. Most recently, Johnson was an offensive coach on Reggie Torres’ staff at Kahuku and also guided its varsity basketball and baseball teams.

“All-around, it’s a program and I’m excited about it,” Johnson said of Kapolei. “They have a very, very good athletic director (Darren Camello) and principal, and Darren (Hernandez) is a great coach. They understand the dynamics of athletics and academics there, and it’s refreshing.”