Windward Football Action — From Kaneohe To Salt Lake City

By the time this weekend runs its course, the OIA Red East and White races already will be taking shape. A look at the key match-ups involving Windward schools is below.

Kailua High at Moanalua: 7 p.m. Friday

Perhaps no team in the state has had a tougher schedule than Kailua to begin 2013, as this game will mark its fourth straight road game. Included in that stretch were West teams Aiea and Campbell, as well as last week’s Castle rivalry game.

The good news is the Surfriders will finish up their season slate with four in a row at home. A win over Moanalua would be a great boost heading into the home stand. To date, points have been hard to come by for the Kailua offense, which was shut out by Aiea before putting up a couple scores versus Campbell.

On the bright side, defense is giving up under 95 yards a game on the ground. Moanalua has struggled to move the ball in 2013 with negative yards on the ground to date. The team that makes more plays in the passing game could have the upper hand here.

Moanalua won last year’s game 46-13.

Farrington High at Castle: 6 p.m. Saturday

With solid showings in the first two weeks, Castle is looking good. In week one, the Knights battled a good Kamehameha team in a 15-0 defeat before taking care of business in a 27-13 win over Damien.

Last week, the Knights were to face Kailua in the “Hammer Trophy” game before turning to this matchup with the Governors. A win would be a huge boost, placing Castle in the discussion of the league favorites as mid-season approaches, given Farrington’s success in the past few years.

The Govs are in “regroup” mode this season after graduating several key players from last year’s team, which finished 9-3. Farrington was outscored 71-19 in road losses to Waianae and Kamehameha to begin 2013. Run defense has been its Achilles’ heel to date, as the Govs have yielded 224 yards per game on the ground so far.

Kalani High versus Kalaheo: 6 p.m. Saturday at Kailua High

Kalaheo used its run game to eke out a 15-0 win over Roosevelt in its OIA White opener Aug. 16 and could benefit greatly from some ball control for this one, as well to keep Kalani’s own high-powered offense off the field. Kalani and Kalaheo combined for plenty of offensive fireworks (and a combined 754 total yards) in last year’s game, which was won by Kalani, 42-34.

Kalaheo’s other outing was a four-point loss to Kamehameha-Hawaii in a preseason game. The Mustangs were to play Anuenue last weekend. For Kalani’s part, the Falcons were overwhelmed 62-20 by rival Kaiser in their OIA White opener Aug. 17 and are giving up 262 yards per game via the air, which includes a 51-34 interleague loss to defending DII state champion Iolani Aug. 10. This game is the start of a key three-game stretch for Kalaheo, including Pearl City and Radford over the next two weekends.

Kahuku High at East High School: 3 p.m. Hawaiian time Saturday

East High (from Salt Lake City) is looking to bounce back from a drama-filled 2012 season that saw the Raiders begin 8-0 only to have to forfeit a handful of games because of the use of an ineligible player. In the end, the East High was fined $6,000 and forced to forfeit a region title.

East’s on-the-field prospects for 2013 will be helped along by a defense led by three Division I commits – Joe Tukuafu (Utah), Korey Rush (Arizona State) and Christian Folau (Stanford). In all, East High returned 13 starters from last year. Offensively, its triple option attack averaged 38 points per game last season.

For its part, Kahuku is in rebuild mode after returning just four starters from last year’s undefeated state championship season. The Red Raiders lost 45-24 to Saint Louis in their first showing of the season and were to open OIA Red East play last weekend versus Kaimuki. The Red Raiders gave up 361 passing yards to Saint Louis in that one, but will face a ground-oriented attack this week in the triple option of East High.

Controlling the game with their own rushing attack may be Kahuku’s best bet in this one behind backs Soli Afalava and Polikapo Liua Jr.