Hammer Trophy At Stake In Castle-Kailua Contest Friday

Hawaii prep football fans didn’t have to wait long to view a variety of marquee matchups in 2013, with several having already played out over the first two weeks, including last weekend’s game between traditional powers Kahuku and Saint Louis.

More key games are on the way this week with the Castle-Kailua contest topping the bill. A look at that matchup as well as Kalaheo’s game with Anuenue and the Kaimuki-Kahuku encounter follows.

Kailua at Castle – Friday Night (7 p.m. kickoff)

The state’s best rivalry is renewed with the Hammer Trophy once again at stake. Both the Knights and Surfriders struggled offensively in their public unveilings in Week One, as Kailua was blanked 35-0 by Aiea, and Castle was shut out 15-0 by Kamehameha. The silver lining is that both Aiea and Kamehameha figure to be in the hunt for regular-season titles in their respective leagues this fall, so playing them served as good preparation for Castle and Kailua. Kailua gave up 272 yards through the air to Aiea in their pre-season encounter, so shoring up their pass defense should be a huge key for the Surfriders against a Castle team that can usually move the ball via the airwaves. On the flip side, the Knights’ defense yielded 214 yards on the ground in their loss to Kamehameha, so a “stop the run first” mentality will likely be in place for Castle this week. The team that runs the ball better and controls the clock could gain the edge here. Turnovers also are likely to be a big determining factor. This is the third of five straight home games for the Knights, whose stadium was renovated in 2012. Kailua won last year’s meeting 24-6.

Kaimuki at Kahuku – Friday Night (7:30 p.m. kickoff)

For the defending state champion Red Raiders, this is the week to be on “Upset Alert,” as this matchup with Kaimuki falls in between last week’s showdown with Saint Louis School and next week’s much-anticipated trip to East High in Utah. If Kahuku is to suffer a letdown any week this season, this would be it. For Kaimuki’s part, this is the Bulldogs’ third straight road game after trips to Waialua and Waipahu. The Bulldogs passed their first test with flying colors as they posted a workmanlike 28-7 triumph over Waialua in Week One. Kaimuki rolled up 372 total yards on offense in that one, including 202 on the ground. Conversely, the Bulldogs gave up only 37 rushing yards, defensively. Kaimuki’s run defense versus Kahuku’s ground game figures to be the telltale matchup in this one. Kahuku won last year’s meeting between the teams 42-7.

Kalaheo versus Anuenue – Saturday Night (5 p.m. at Kaiser High School)

Could another offensive shootout between the teams be in the forecast for Saturday night? No one will be surprised if that is the case, given that last year’s meeting had no shortage of offensive fireworks in a game won by Kalaheo, 44-28. The Mustangs dropped a hard-fought 26-23 decision to Kamehameha-Hawaii in their pre-season game in Week One, and were to visit Roosevelt last weekend for their Oahu Interscholastic Association White Conference opener. Anuenue was blanked 42-0 by Waimea in Week One as Na Koa conceded 450 yards on the ground. On the bright side, Anuenue had 193 yards on the ground on the offensive side of the ball. Na Koa might find the yards on the ground tougher to come by this week against a Kalaheo defense that gave up only 53 rushing yards to Kamehameha-Hawaii. Following this game with Anuenue, Kalaheo will enter a key stretch in their schedule that will see the Mustangs play Kalani, Pearl City and Radford in successive weeks.