West Teams Battle For Playoff Spots In Weekend Matchups

Will it be an “October to Remember” for West Oahu’s prep football teams?

Much will depend on the outcome of this week- end’s games, as playoff spots are still hanging in the balance for some teams from the West. A preview of the key matchups fol- lows.

Kalani at Pearl City — 7 p.m. Friday
The Chargers took a three-game win streak into last weekend’s game with Waialua (also a very winnable game, on paper) and have placed this game with the Falcons into the must-win bin in order to stay in contention for one of the West’s two playoff spots for the OIA White Conference’s post-season. Pearl City must finish first or second among West teams, but it lost to both Radford and Nanakuli, so it needs help from other teams to leapfrog the Golden Hawks.

As its bye week comes in the final weekend of the season, it has to take care of business now. The Chargers’ turnaround over the last month can be attributed in part to their improved offensive play, as they have averaged 51.3 points per game during their three-game streak.

The signature win in that stretch was a 46-20 victory over Kalaheo Sept. 21, in which they amassed 418 total yards, including 337 via the air. Playmakers Tanner Tokunaga and Daicorri Briscoe combined for 225 receiving yards and three touchdowns between them to aid Pearl City’s cause in that one.

Kalani is in the midst of a brutal four-game stretch that included games with some of the White’s elite teams — Radford, Kalaheo, the Chargers and next week’s rivalry game with Kaiser.

Waipahu at Mililani — 7 p.m. Friday
Four games into their Red West slate, the Marauders could largely be considered the surprise team in the league, as they were only a couple plays away from being 4-0 in that stretch. Indeed, losses to Campbell (39-35) and Waianae (23-20) could have gone into the win column, and the Marauders posted impressive wins over Kapolei (28-21) and Aiea (28-7) in their other two encounters.

Last weekend’s game with Leilehua and this matchup with Mililani will figure big in Waipahu’s seeding for the Red West playoffs. With Jarin Morikawa and an explosive Mililani team the opponent this week, Waipahu’s best defense this week might be its offense, whose balance between the run game and passing game could be just enough to move the chains for the Marauders and keep the Trojans’ own offense on the sideline for long stretches. That task could fall largely to a talented back- field that includes quarterback Kaimi Paredes and Waipahu running backs Matapua Tulafale, Isaiah Alama and Kai Mercado-Aiona.

Kapolei at Aiea — 7 p.m. Friday
Given the balance in the Red West, this game could very well decide who gets the last playoff spot for the league’s post- season. The outcome of both teams’ games from last weekend will also fig- ure big into the mix. For their part, Na Ali‘i has relied on its defense to keep it in games for much of 2012, but Aiea will need a big offensive effort to close out this game. Aiea is 3-1 when scoring 18 points or better this fall.

Kapolei began the season 3-1 before lopsided losses to Mililani and Leilehua left it scrambling to make the playoffs. The Hurricanes’ forte to date has been their run defense, as they are yielding only 74.2 yards per game on the ground. The game will feature two of the Red West’s most productive running backs in Aiea’s Mana Kaahanui (eight rushing TDs) and Jacob Kukahiko (five TDs) of Kapolei.