OIA Red East Games Critical At Mid-season In Windward

This weekend is the midway point of the OIA’s Red East season for most teams, the outcome of their games should figure big for Castle, Kailua and Kahuku. Kalaheo’s game with Pearl City should figure equally big for the Mustangs’ quest to win the OIA White. A look at this weekend’s action follows.

McKinley at Castle – 7:30 p.m. Friday

The silver lining in a 1-2 start for Castle is its defensive play, as it’s yielding just under two scores per outing. Those numbers are good enough to win every night out, if the Knights can continue to improve offensively and do the scoring they need. Castle held down a good Kamehameha team in week one and allowed two scores in their win over Damien the next weekend. In losing to Kailua, Castle’s defense also was solid, as they conceded only 172 total yards with two of the Surfrider touchdowns coming from special teams and through its own defensive play – an interception return for a touchdown and a kickoff return for another. While a trip to Kahuku still looms on Castle’s schedule, games with McKinley this week as well as Moanalua and Kaimuki on the back end of the slate give it an opportunity for a nice run down the stretch as well as an opportunity to earn a good playoff seeding. McKinley won last year’s game 21-12.

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

This game is huge in the big picture for Kalaheo, which still has games ahead on its OIA White slate against Radford, Nanakuli and Kaiser. How well Kalaheo’s run game fares versus the Charger defense could go long way toward deciding the outcome in this game. The Mustangs are averaging 172 yards per game on the ground. Conversely, Pearl City is yielding 172 yards per game on the ground. The Mustang defense has been playing lights-out, meanwhile, with a pair of shut-outs already to their credit.

For the Chargers, this game with Kalaheo is big for a variety of reasons. Above all, three of their remaining five games will be at home after this weekend, including the much-anticipated matchup with East power Kaiser Oct. 5. The next two weekends are at home versus Anuenue and Roosevelt, teams that entered last weekend a combined 0-6 in the won-lost column. Pearl City won last year’s game 46-20.

Kailua versus Farrington – 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Roosevelt

Kailua’s riveting overtime win over Castle in week one of Red East play was just the boost it needed with a home stand on the horizon. Last weekend’s game at Moanalua was the last true road game on the schedule, as Gary Rosolowich’s team finishes up with home dates versus Kaimuki and Kahuku and a game at Aloha Stadium opposite McKinley. The Surfriders found creative ways to score against Castle with a 39-yard interception return courtesy of Paepaeiva Silifaiva and a 99-yard kickoff return by Jameson White, accounting for 12 of their points. Kailua’s greater challenge over the final month will be to sustain more drives, offensively, to keep an improving defense off the field. Kailua kicker Naia Graham is on his way to an All-Conference caliber season. Farrington won last year’s game 18-7.

Moanalua at Kahuku – 6 p.m. Saturday

This game and the Sept. 13 Castle game are the last two true home games for Kahuku, whose season finale with Farrington will be played at Aloha Stadium. Among Kahuku’s challenges this week will be overcoming any lingering effects of travel, having returned recently from a trip to Salt Lake City, and their game with highly regarded East High School. With only four starters back from last year’s state title team, the Red Raiders remain a work in progress in 2013. The good news is that the run-defense has the look of the prototypical Kahuku unit, having yielded just over 100 yards on the ground per outing in games to date. Offensively, the Red Raiders also are piling up the yardage on the ground, averaging 277 per game. Those numbers don’t bode well for a Moanalua team that is giving up 277 yards per game on the ground. Kahuku won last year’s game 31-15.