Mililani And Leilehua Teams Play Tough In Early Preseason

Sept. 27 already is etched in the minds of both Leilehua and Mililani football fans. That’s when the 2013 battle between the schools will take place. But before the Mules and Trojans can turn their attention to that epic encounter, they have hurdles to climb. That includes this weekend’s games. A look at the matchups follows.

Mililani at Waianae – 7 p.m. Friday

This is the second of three straight league road games for the Trojans, who were to play at Kapolei last week. A trip to Waipahu follows this weekend’s game, which could be the toughest assignment of the three, given the Seariders’ dominance in wins over Farrington and Moanalua.

Running the ball on offense and defending the run, defensively, has been Waianae’s forte. The Seariders are averaging 224 yards per game on the ground. Conversely, they yield just 14.2 yards per game on the defensive side. Mililani defeated Moanalua 38-9 in its opener and dropped a 24-14 decision to defending state runner-up Punahou in week two.

How well Mililani can slow the Waianae running game should be key this week. Mililani’s run defense has been solid to date, as it gave up an average of just 55.5 yards per outing in its first two games. Offensively, Mililani’s ability to control the ball also could help the cause, as it would keep Waianae’s ground attack off of the field.

Mililani won last year’s game 35-7 on the Trojan home field.

Vincent Massey at Leilehua – 7 p.m. Friday

This is the second of four straight home games for the Mules. While this game will technically be a preseason one, it should serve as a good tuneup for the Mules, who follow up this encounter with a key four-game stretch that will see them play Waianae and Kapolei at home as well as Aiea and Mililani on the road in successive weeks.

Massey, which competes in the Winnipeg High School Football League of Canada, will make its season debut this weekend. The Trojans finished 5-2 in their league a year ago. As for Leilehua, the Mules opened 2013 in impressive fashion by burying defending Division II state champ Iolani under a 56-35 avalanche Aug. 17. The Leilehua offense, led by quarterbacks Mack Eberhardt and Kalanimoku Pauole, used a balanced attack in the win over the Raiders, rolling up 220 rushing yards and another 307 yards through the air. Mules running back Ikaika Piceno gained 124 yards on only nine carries to go with a pair of scores.

Waialua at Pearl City – 7:30 p.m. Friday

After facing a run-happy Division I Kapolei team in their preseason game Aug. 10, the Chargers had a week to work out the kinks in defending the rush, as a bye week followed before last weekend’s game with Kalani. This week, Pearl City faces a much-improved Waialua team. Unlike Kapolei, which grinds out the yardage, the Bulldogs are one of the more balanced teams in the OIA White conference, averaging as many yards on the ground as in the air.

Waialua also had one of the tougher schedules out of the gate with losses to Kaimuki (28-7) and Nanakuli (22-19). This is the first in a brutal three-game stretch for Waialua, which next plays Kaiser and Radford. Pearl City also will be looking to get untracked, offensively, after finding the yardage hard to come by against Kapolei. To that end, the Chargers will look to playmakers Travis Joe, Jordan Taamu and Timothy Rivera. Pearl City won last year’s game 47-8.