West Teams Face Tough Preseason Football This Weekend

Aiea, Campbell, Kapolei, Pearl City and Waipahu football teams didn’t have to wait for season opening to be challenged. Indeed, this weekend’s lineup of preseason games reads more like playoff pairings, highlighted by a Campbell-Kahuku matchup Friday night.

A look at all of this weekend’s games for all five high school is below.

Waialua at Aiea, 8:30 p.m. Friday

Aiea, which finished 2-6 overall last fall, is hoping to gain momentum here against Division II Waialua before back-to-back season road tests in weeks two and three versus Kaiser and Kailua. On the heels of those games, Aiea plays two more OIA heavyweights in Farrington and Mililani after that.

The Friday game is Aiea’s only home date until Sept. 12 against Mililani, and also Waialua’s only true 2014 road game, as the Bulldogs’ slate features four home games and four games at neutral sites. Waialua went 3-6 overall in 2013.

Campbell at Kahuku, 8:30 p.m. Friday

Of all the big wins Campbell posted last season, none was bigger, of course, than its 28-7 win over Kahuku in the OIA third-place game, which decided the league’s third and final berth for the Division I state football championships. Returnees from both teams will remember that game well. The win gave the Sabers their first-ever DI state berth, while Kahuku missed the state tournament for the first time in four years.

This game will be the first under new Kahuku head coach Lee Leslie, who was hired this spring following a successful career in Utah.

For Campbell, it’s the first of four straight against teams from the East under the OIA’s new scheduling format and conference alignment. The Sabers look ahead to games against Castle, Moanalua and Kailua.

Pearl City at Castle, 8:30 p.m. Friday

After closing out 2013 strong with a runner-up finish (to Kaiser) in the OIA Division II playoffs, Pearl City is hoping to continue its upward mobility here against Division I Castle.

While the two teams have very little history between them, on paper, at least, they are similar. Both have thrived over the years by using the spread attack, offensively.

With that in mind, Pearl City senior Jordan Taamu is among the players to watch. A quarterback, he threw for 1,649 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He also rushed for 173 yards.

Like the Chargers, Castle has a difficult schedule out of the gate against Leilehua, Kahuku, Waianae and Kaiser. The Knights went 3-6 overall last season.

Kailua at Waipahu, 8:30 p.m. Friday Waipahu is a team that deserves a better fate than last year. The Marauders finished just 2-7, including 1-5 in the OIA Red West, but they were far more competitive than the record shows. Should 2014 be a breakthrough season, they will have earned it, as their schedule is as demanding as any in the OIA, facing Farrington, Kahuku, Castle and Kaiser as their first four season opponents.

Kailua’s Joseph Wong, who played in the NFL for Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders, is starting his first year as head coach following a long stint as an assistant at the school.

Kapolei at Kealakehe, 7 p.m. Saturday

The Hurricanes finished 6-4 overall in 2013 and are hoping this off-island trip will be just the right preparation for a tough season. Indeed, Kapolei should know where it stands early on, with games versus Kahuku, Farrington and defending OIA champion Mililani in successive weeks right out of the gate.

This Hawaii island game also will see the debut of new Kapolei offensive coordinator Darren Johnson, who was a head coach previously at Kailua and Kaimuki.

For the Waveriders, Saturday marks the first game under new head coach Sam Kekuaokalani. Kealakehe had a losing season last fall for the first time in over a decade, going 4-5.

Email Jack Danilewicz at jackster.1969@yahoo.com