Pearl City Chargers Eyeing A First State Football Title

With Pearl City ready to make its third state football championship appearance in four years, it has firmly entrenched itself in the high-rent district of Division II prep football in Hawaii. Can the Chargers take the next step and bring home the school’s first state football title in the coming weeks?

Head coach Robin Kami’s team was to meet Nanakuli in last weekend’s OIA White title game, before turning its attention to the state contest. Pairings for the 2014 DII state championships, which begin this weekend, were to be revealed late Sunday. (The DII state title game will be Nov. 21.) A look at Pearl City’s prospects is below.

The Pearl City file

Record: 8-1 overall (7-1 in the regular season), heading into last weekend’s OIA White title game against Nanakuli

Wins: Over Roosevelt 34-6 at home Aug. 15, over Waialua 34-7 on the road Aug. 23, over Kaimuki 46-13 at home Aug. 29, over Anuenue 2-0 (by forfeit), over Radford 34-26 on a neutral field Sept. 20, over Kalani 42-20 at home Oct. 3, over Kalaheo 37-0 at home Oct. 10, over Radford 35-20 at home Oct. 25

Losses: at Nanakuli 28-21 Sept. 26 Signature wins: Over Radford (both games), over Kalani

Did you know? Pearl City has outscored its opponents 107-19 in the first quarter of games this year.

Chargers in the state tournament: The Chargers have an 0-2 all-time record in the state tournament since the HHSAA divided into two divisions in 2003. Pearl City lost first-round road games to Kauai High in 2011 and 2013.

Offensive outlook: If any team has shown the ability to control a game with its offense in 2014, it has been the Chargers, who topped the 34-point plateau in seven of their eight games, heading into last weekend. It was hardly a surprise then that their lone loss came when they produced their lowest output of 21 (the Nanakuli loss Sept. 26).

Senior quarterback Jordan Taamu has been the catalyst to date with his decision-making and ability to make plays with both his arm and his feet.

In addition to throwing for 1,234 yards in his first eight games, his touchdown pass-versus-interception ratio stood at 23-2 entering last weekend’s action. Taamu is also Pearl City’s second leading rusher behind running back Dominic Maneafaiga, and has averaged a healthy 6.3 yards per attempt.

For his part, Maneafaiga has been the workhorse of the run game with 657 yards on the ground and seven rushing touchdowns through eight games. He has been a huge play-maker in the passing game too, with a team-leading 26 catches (14.1 yards per catch) and nine touchdown receptions.

Receivers Garrett Kanamu, Keelan Domingo-Ishikawa and Israel Kaleo also have been among Taamu’s favorite targets. The trio has combined for 13 touchdown receptions among them.

Defensive outlook:

A common characteristic of championship-level teams always has been their ability to run the ball on offense and stop the run on defense. That’s good news for a Pearl City team that has demonstrated proficiency in both.

The Chargers are giving up just 79 yards per game on the ground, a trend they hope will continue at states. The team is yielding just 184 total yards per game, including 105 per game passing.

Pearl City ranks third in the state among DII teams in scoring defense, yielding 13.3 points per game. Only Kauai Interscholastic Federation champion Kapaa (5.7) and Lahainaluna (6.4), the Maui champion, have given up less.

The Chargers have been especially stout coming out of halftime, having shut out their opponents in the third quarter in four of their eight games.