West Teams In Playoff Mode For Critical Weekend Games

The OIA post-season may still be a few weeks away, but with every game critical from here on out, West Oahu teams can’t help but be in playoff mode already. A preview of this weekend’s matchups follows.

Campbell at Kapolei — 7 p.m. Friday
The rivalry could take a back seat to playoff posi- tioning, as both teams find themselves in a battle to make the playoffs in the balanced Red West. As the Sabers’ bye week comes prior to the final weekend of the regular season, the outcome of this one may be even more crucial since Campbell is a week ahead of the rest of the league, schedule-wise. The Sabers entered last weekend’s game with Leilehua trying to right the ship following consec- utive losses to Mililani and Waianae. A key will be how well they can handle the Kapolei run game.

Kapolei was highly productive until it was overwhelmed in a recent loss to Leilehua. The good news for the Sabers is that their run defense has been the strength of the “D.” For the Hurricanes, this is their final home date, with a road game against Aiea to come on the heels of this one. Kapolei, which was to play Mililani over the week- end, will look to get back to the things that enabled it to get off to a solid start this season — the ability to run the ball on offense and stop the run, defensively. Campbell won last year’s meeting 29-13.

Mililani at Aiea — 7 p.m. Friday
The game plan for every team that faces Mililani is to disrupt the rhythm of Trojan quarterback Jarin Morikawa, who has been putting up huge numbers for most of the year. Considering that Aiea beat the only team (Leilehua) to have beaten Mililani so far, expect Na Ali‘i defense to come into this one with confidence. If any team is built to match the Mililani offense play for play, it’s Aiea, which has truly been one of the state’s most stout units so far. Its run defense has been especially stingy, as it’s yielding less than 40 yards on the ground per game. How well Aiea’s front seven can handle the Mililani offensive line here will be huge in determining the outcome. The Aiea offense also will need to come through with long, sustained drives to aid the cause by keeping Morikawa and Company off the field. A big game from Mana Kaahanui (5.5 yards per carry; seven rushing touch- downs) could help position Aiea for a win. Mililani won last year’s game 7-6.

Waipahu at Leilehua — 7 p.m. Friday
In a league defined by balance, as well as ups and downs for every team, per- haps no program has come back stronger week after week than Waipahu, regard- less of its fate the week before. Both of its losses in the Red West have been by less than five points, so Waipahu was only a few plays from being undefeated through their first four league games. Included are impressive wins over Kapolei and Aiea, which handed Leilehua its only loss in the first half of the season.

Expect the Mules to be on “Upset Alert” this week and to give their best effort, as Waipahu’s win over Aiea Sept. 15 certainly got the rest of the league’s attention, most notably Leilehua’s. Waipahu defense has been solid all season, especially against the run, and the key here will be to eliminate the big plays Leilehua always thrives on. Waipahu’s best defense this week may be its offense, whose balance has enabled the team to possess the ball against every opponent they’ve faced to date, thus keeping the quick-striking Leilehua offense off the field.

Pearl City at Waialua — 7 p.m. Friday
This is the last road game of the year for the Chargers, who finish up with a home date against Kalani next week. Following a run of four straight losses, their offense found its groove with back-to-back routs of Anuenue and Roosevelt and had plenty of momentum as it went into last weekend’s game with Kalaheo. All signs point to another big day for the Pearl City offense this weekend, as Waialua has been giving up yardage in big chunks for most of the season. Pearl City’s offense is averaging 240 yards a game through the air behind quarterback Brock Teixeira and receivers Isaac Amorin, Daicorri Briscoe and Tanner Tokunaga. The group has combined for 14 touchdowns to date.