West Prep Football Teams Battle For Place In State Tourney

Every game seemed like a playoff game this season for the teams in the OIA Red West, given the balance throughout the league. Now the “second season” starts for real. A look at the prospects for West Oahu’s prep football teams follows.

Campbell Sabers

Record: 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the Red West, heading into last weekend’s season finale with Kapolei

Signature wins: 28-7 over Aiea on the road Sept. 13; 32-24 over Waianae at home Sept. 13

Strength: The passing game remains their strength. Quarterback Isaac Hurd has been highly efficient, completing 58 percent of his passes through his first seven games, including 17 touchdowns against eight interceptions. A cast of big-play receivers that includes Keola Himan, Jayce Bantolina, Kainoa Perry, Amosa Amosa Jr. and Galuenga Castro gives the team a chance to be in position to win every night.

Did you know? Campbell entered last weekend ranked third in the state in passing offense behind Moanalua and Saint Louis.

Sabers at a glance: A win over rival Kapolei last weekend would give them a perfect record (4-0) in 2013 home games, and a win over the Hurricanes would keep hopes alive for one of the Red West’s top two seeds for the playoffs. While it’s scored its share of points, offensively, the defense remains underrated, as it gave up the second-least amount of points in the league.

Make plans for the state tournament if: The team can avoid turning the ball over. Campbell’s offense has scored at least 21 points in every game.

Kapolei Hurricanes

Record: 5-2 overall, 3-2 in the Red West, heading into last weekend’s finale at Campbell

Signature wins: 48-27 over Leilehua on the road Sept. 13

Key question: Can the offense get out of its own way? When the Hurricanes have struggled, it has been because of miscues and self-inflicted woes.

Strength: The defense, which has held four opponents to a touchdown or less. Kapolei is giving up 236 total yards a game, including 122 per outing on the road. Those numbers are good enough to keep it in the game.

Did you know? Running backs Tristan Pebria and Kazden Reis both rank in the top 10 among the Red conference’s leading rushers with 857 yards between them and a combined eight touchdowns on the ground.

Hurricanes at a glance: Kapolei’s 35-point fourth-quarter explosion at Leilehua gave the team a signature win versus a big-name opponent. It also showed plenty of grit in fighting back Waianae on the road.

Make plans for the state tournament if: The defense brings its “A” game into the OIA playoffs and can consistently win the turnover battle. The run game also must continue to churn out the yardage to complement a solid defense.

Waipahu Marauders

Record: 2-5 overall, 1-4 in the Red West, heading into last weekend’s finale against Leilehua

Signature wins: 20-19 over Aiea at home Sept. 14

Key question: Can the Marauders reverse their turnover trend? They were plagued by nine interceptions in the first seven games.

Strength: The run defense. It gave up about 119 yards per game on the ground.

Did you know? Waipahu boasts five players – Kai Mercado-Aiona, Matthew Leilua, Jacob Anae, Gavin Marques and Tofi Seei – currently averaging four yards per carry or better.

Marauders at a glance: Teams that can stop the run game defensively and run the ball on offense can be considered built for post-season. Those two areas of play are among the team’s strengths, and the numbers suggest that it deserved a better fate during the regular season.

Make plans for the state tournament if: It can control the clock, offensively, on a consistent basis, thus limiting opposing team’s own offensive possessions. It also will need to win the special teams battle every time out.