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West Teams Gear Up For Division I Playoffs This Weekend

Every game seemed akin to a playoff game this season for teams in the OIA Red and Blue conferences. Now the “second season” starts as Division I playoffs open this weekend. (Matchups for first-round games were to be finalized after press time.) Previews for Aiea, Campbell, Kapolei and Waipahu are below.

Aiea Na Ali’i

Record: 2-4 in the OIA Blue, entering last weekend’s finale with Kapolei

Key win: Over Kailua (25-14) Aug. 30 Na Ali’i at a glance: As Aiea prepares for this weekend, among the themes for the post-season will be increasing its offensive efficiency, as mis-cues and turnovers have undermined momentum throughout the season. Aiea’s showing against Moanalua Sept. 19 (in a 42-30 defeat) showed what the offense is capable of, as quarterback Kobe Kato threw for a season-high 278 yards in that game. The more its offense can possess the ball, the less pressure will be on the defense, which has been on the field too long at times. Aiea is giving up 332 yards per game, defensively.

Make plans for the state tournament if: The offense can play turnover free and the defense can get some take-ways.

Campbell Sabers

Record: 5-1 in the OIA Blue, heading into last weekend’s finale against Farrington

Key wins: Over Castle (35-13) Aug. 15, over Kapolei (14-13) Sept. 12

Sabers at a glance: The Sabers responded in a big way following a disastrous fourth quarter (that led to a 57-28 loss) versus Mililani in week eight, shutting out Aiea 23-0 to remain in the hunt for the Blue title. In fact, the fourth quarter of the Mililani game, when Campbell was outscored 28-0, was probably the only poor quarter played by the Sabers all year. The strength of the Sabers’ defense has been in stopping the run, as they are limiting the opposition to just 99 yards a game on the ground.

Make plans for the state tournament if: They can maintain their offensive consistency and eliminate big plays and quick scores on the defensive side of the ball. Kapolei Hurricanes

Record: 2-4 in the OIA Blue, heading into last weekend’s finale against Aiea

Key wins: Over Moanalua (25-14) Sept. 5, over Kailua (20-0) Sept. 19

Hurricanes at a glance: Take the first half of Kapolei’s loss to Mililani out of the mix, and the team has been in position to win every game in the second half this year. The prevailing theme for the Hurricanes this post-season is to finish drives and finish games, as they were only a handful of plays from a much better fate in the regular season. Indeed, Kapolei suffered losses to Farrington and Campbell, and a road loss to Kahuku was closer than the score would indicate.

Balance has been Kapolei’s forte, offensively, as it averages 126 yards passing per game and 117 yards rushing. Play-makers include quarterback Alton Julius (eight touchdown passes), running back Trensten Spragling (4.2 yards per carry, three TDs) and wide receiver Edward Kea (11.3 yards per catch, three TDs).

Defensively, the Hurricanes are giving up 21 points per game for the year, but just 9.7 over the last three outings.

Make plans for the state tournament if: Kapolei can win the turnover battle every night out and average at least 21 points.

Waipahu Marauders

Record: 1-6 in the OIA Red. (Please note: The Marauders’ playoff hopes were pending the outcome of the Castle-McKinley game over the weekend. A win by McKinley would have created a three-way tie for the last playoff berth in the Red.

A Castle win would have guaranteed Waipahu the final berth.)

Key wins: Over McKinley (28-12) Sept. 20

Marauders at a glance: Waipahu’s 28-12 win over McKinley Sept. 20 was just the boost the team needed, although a loss to Waianae (43-0) in the season finale the following week undermined its momentum to a degree. As the Marauders finished their Red slate a week before everyone else, they had an extra week to prepare for a first-round game this weekend, should they qualify.

Points have been hard to come by for Waipahu in 2014.

Make plans for the state tournament if: Waipahu can win the turnover battle and develop a run game to go with an improving passing attack, led by quarterback Blaise DeAsis and favorite target Jordan Taylor (four touchdowns). jackster.1969@yahoo.com