Trio Of West Oahu Teams Battling It Out Ahead Of Playoffs

While one football game doesn’t make a season, this weekend’s action for Campbell, Kapolei, Pearl City and Waipahu surely will have a big impact on each program – especially with the OIA playoffs approaching in two weeks. A look at the Friday night matchups is below. (Note: Aiea is off this week.)

Waipahu at Campbell at 7:30 p.m. Friday

Pending the outcome of last Friday’s battle with Red West leader Mililani, the conference title could still be in Campbell’s line of vision, making this an epic week for the Saber Nation. Regardless of that outcome, the Sabers are still in the mix for either a No. 1 or 2 seed for the playoffs, which would guarantee them an all-important first-round bye. The win over Waianae Sept. 13 was monumental for a number of reasons, not the least of which was playoff positioning. Above all, the Campbell defense was stellar in that game, limiting the powerful Waianae running attack to 3.5 yards per carry while also creating two critical turnovers. The Sabers’ ability to play fast and physical on the defensive side of the ball should figure big again this week as they face a Waipahu run game that averages 176 yards per outing. Therein lies the key matchup for this game – Campbell’s defensive front opposite Waipahu’s offensive line. The Marauders had a key win over Aiea Sept. 13 to bolster their own playoff position and now find themselves in the midst of a brutal three-game stretch to close out the regular season. It began last weekend with a game against Waianae. On the heels of that, Waipahu has a home date remaining with Leilehua. Campbell won last year’s game 39-34.

Kapolei at Waianae at 7:30 p.m. Friday

Kapolei’s riveting road win at Leilehua Sept. 13, in which the Hurricanes scored 35 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, undoubtedly will go down as the most memorable game in the Red West this fall. When the smoke cleared, the team found itself suddenly back in the discussion for the Red West title. Can it recapture its road magic over the final two weeks? Following this game, Kapolei closes out its season Oct. 4 at rival Campbell, which also is hungry for the Red West crown. (Both Campbell and Kapolei will keep a close eye on the Sept. 27 Mililani-Leilehua game, a meeting that also will greatly influence who wins the league title. Kapolei’s mission at Waianae this weekend is simple: It needs to control the ball and the clock with its own run game and stop Waianae’s rushing attack.

With a stable of backs (Tristan Pebria, Kazden Reis and Kainoa Brown) all averaging better than 5.4 yards per carry, there should be an opportunity for Kapolei to possess the ball. It also will likely need dual-threat quarterback Aizon Kahana to make some plays in the passing game to help push the team across the finish line. Kapolei won last year’s game 17-2.

Pearl City at Nanakuli at 7:30 p.m. Friday

Despite an early-season setback to Kalani, Pearl City has stayed the course, and now finds itself right where it wanted to be, heading into a critical three-game stretch to close out its OIA White slate. Following this trip to Nanakuli, Pearl City will meet fellow league-leader Kaiser (at home Oct. 5) and Radford (away Oct. 11), so the Chargers plainly control their own destiny. With that in mind, the Nanakuli game automatically goes into the “must win” bin, since the Chargers have to maintain pace with both Kaiser and Radford. Pearl City was expected to win its fourth straight last weekend, assuming it dispatched a winless Roosevelt team. A balanced offense has carried its win streak, as the team averages exactly 135 yards on the ground and 135 via the airwaves. Quarterback Jordan Taamu has been the catalyst in the attack both with his feet and his arm, while he’s surrounded by a host of playmakers that include backs Justin Dupio, Reno Abero and Travis Joe, as well as receivers Timothy Rivera and Kierren McGhee. Nanakuli won last year’s game 34-28.