Undefeated Red Teams To Clash On Kahuku Turf Friday Night

There are some things you guess at, some you assume, and others you just know. A breakdown of Friday’s 7:30 p.m. Kahuku-Leilehua matchup in Kahuku is below.

Setting the Stage — Why Watch?

Both Kahuku and Leilehua have looked forward to this game since they landed in the new Red Conference by way of the OIA’s off-season restructuring, which guaranteed they would meet in the regular season. With both teams undefeated as of last weekend, the winner here goes into the season’s final week with a leg up in the race. (Kahuku meets Waianae at Aloha Stadium in week eight, Leilehua hosts Kaiser in its season finale.)

Additionally, both are in the mix to land one of the Red’s two first-round byes for the OIA playoffs.

Did You Know?

Leilehua has outscored its opponents 74-0 in the first quarter this season.

The Series

Kahuku has won the last two games between the schools. It defeated Leilehua 14-7 in the OIA semifinals in 2012, and also edged the Mules 13-10 in the state semifinals of 2011.

Defensive Key To Victory For Kahuku

Tackle in space. Leilehua’s short passing game is basically its run game, and it has a large cast of playmakers in quarterback Kalanimoku Pauole (21 touchdown passes), running back Ikaika Piceno (7.6 yards per rush) and receivers Lauriano Lucas, Toma Savea, Randy Neverson and Tyreek Keough. So the Red Raiders will have to avoid giving up the quick score and try to make Leilehua go the long, hard route. The Mules are averaging 391 yards of total offense per game with 305 of those through the air.

Offensive Key To Victory For Kahuku

Dominate up front, enabling the Red Raiders to run the ball and control the clock. Kahuku is averaging 199 yards on the ground per game, and if it can come close to reaching that run total versus Leilehua, it will be able to keep the quick-striking Mules’ offense off the field for long stretches. Look for the Red Raiders to get the ball into the hands of running back Kesi Ah Hoy and quarterback Tuli Wily-Matagi to that end.

Offensive Key To Victory For Leilehua

Get Pauole into a throwing rhythm early so he can distribute the ball to his corps of receivers in space. One of the reasons the Mules’ receiving corps has done so much damage to date has been its ability to gain a lot of yardage after the catch. Leilehua receivers Lucas, Savea, Keough and Neverson already have combined for 16 touchdowns.

Defensive Key To Victory For Leilehua

Load up the box and stop the run. While the Kahuku offense and the versatile Wily-Matagi are very capable of throwing the ball through the air, running the ball always will be the team’s forte, given the sturdy and agile line the program produces year after year. It goes without saying that first down will be huge for the Leilehua defense. The Mules need to hold Kahuku to three yards or less on first to put the Red Raiders into obvious passing situations on second and third down. A fast start by the Mules’ defense also would help the cause. Leilehua has yet to give up a touchdown in the first quarter in 2014.