17 September 2018

In Girls Volleyball, Kamehameha, Iolani, and Punahou are 1, 2, and 3 in the rankings.  No surprise there.  Mililani is No. 4, but in a match-up against one of the top 3, the Trojans would be considered underdogs.  The talent in the ILH, particularly with those schools, continues to outshine other teams from the OIA, BIIF, and MIL.  Girls Volleyball has a strong club league program in which clubs train and compete during the high school off season,  and have been doing so for years.  The so called elite clubs have try outs, travel to tournaments, and have a high cost to participate.  That weeds out a lot of kids.  There is a status element for being on a club team so the peer pressure to play on one is intense.  I have not inquired with the top 3 schools, but based on history, I would say that all, or 90% of the players on their rosters play on a club team.  These players train and compete at a high level.  Combine that with competing in the ILH D-I during the high school season, and it is no wonder that these players develop quicker, and are at a higher skill level.

For football, how about a tip of the hat to Kalani and Kailua for getting their first wins of the season.  Falcons QB Nicholas Sakamoto accounted for 3 TD’s in their victory over McKinley and the Surfrider defense shutout Nanakuli 27-0.  A first victory is always sweet and the hope is that momentum can develop and be sustained for the next game.

Weekend Recap: My last week’s “Game to Watch” saw #14 Moanalua stay undefeated with a 23-10 upset over #8 Leilehua.  The Menehune special teams generated points, and receiver Rudy Kealohi hauled in 116 yards in receptions.  I’m not sure what is more surprising – that Moanalua and St Francis are undefeated (4-0 and 5-0 respectively), or that Baldwin is 1-4.  The Bears were the MIL D-I Champion in 2016, and had been a solid program for years.  Now after me saying this, they will run the table and rub my nose in the dirt come HHSAA State Tournament time.

This Week:
Game to watch – Hawaii Prep (1-3) v Konawaena (2-2), Thursday 9/20 @ 7:00p

If for any other reason, but because it is on a Thursday night.  Also the Wildcats from Kona have a freshman QB in Sheynen Nahale who passed for 277 yards and 3 TD’s in their win over Waiakea this past weekend.

Another Game to Watch – Farrington (2-4) at Kamehameha (2-3), Friday 9/21 @ 7:30p

These 2 Kalihi teams have played each other from before this OIA-ILH alliance, partly  because they are geographical neighbors.  But this time it is part of the season and these teams may be trending in opposite directions.  Kamehameha has lost their last 3 games on Oahu (defeated Carson in Los Angeles on 8/24), whereas Farrington snapped a 4 game losing streak with their victory over Kapolei.  The Open Division Schedule has been challenging for both, especially for 1st year Farrington coach Daniel Sanchez.  Neither he, nor his counterpart Abu Ma’afala, want to go +1 in the loss column.

10 September 2018

Safe to say that for 85% of football teams on any level, pros, college, and definitely high school, depth is an issue. There is a drop off from the first teamers, or “1’s”, to the “2’s”. For high schools that struggle for numbers, this fact is magnified times 50. Then there is Aiea. Struggling for numbers, check. Injuries, check. Winning a game with their 4th quarterback, big check. Somehow, someway, senior Fabian Bautista threw 3 touchdown passes in a victory over Radford 26-6, to go 2-1-1. This is an Aiea team that had to call up JV players for the opener against Kaiser(tie). Head coach Wendell Say, who, next to Cal Lee, is the most veteran coach still with a whistle, has to be digging deep into his vault of coaching “magic” to keep his team moving in this positive direction. Credit to Say and his staff for keeping their players motivated. And credit the players for handling this adversity.

Weekend Recap: The “Big Game” may have been a bit anti-climactic with St Louis winning big over Kahuku. Many fans expected a closer game (except Crusader Nation). But Raider Nation, stay cool. Like any good team, which Kahuku is, there could be a different team come State Tournament time. My theory, the Red Raiders now have film against the top team in the State. Improvement, and preparation for the rematch, starts Monday.

Game to watch – Moanalua (3-0) at Leilehua (4-1), Friday, 9/14/18.

The top spot for the OIA D1 is on the line. Moanalua is looking to break into the Top 20 rankings and quarterback Nick Au had a career game last week (300 yards passing, 5 TD’s) in their win over Kailua. Whereas Leilehua’s running back James McGary ran for almost as many yards (223) in their victory over Iolani. The defenses will have to determine the outcome in this one.

3 September 2018

Labor Day is not always an “OFF” day for teams and their coaches…Briefly driving around doing my errands and saw 2 schools with their football teams bright and early getting work in during a muggy morning.  Granted their will be several more volleyball teams in hot gyms, cross country runners on tracks, bowlers maybe getting in on some possible open lanes, while others stay home.  As dedicated as these student-athletes are for working on a holiday (because they have to), let’s think about the coaches who are giving up their time as well.  And don’t let the small stipends that they get fool you.  When you add up the hours in a season, the hourly rate is less then half of the minimum wage.

Weekend Recap: A few teams had their games on the mainland and Iolani hosting a tough Clackamas (Oregon) team and falling 7-0 in a rare defensive battle.  My Game to Watch, Punahou vs Farrington was that physical battle, for 3 quarters until the Buff N Blu pulled away in the 4th, winning 40-14.  Let’s take note of Kaimuki (3-0) with their 2nd shutout of the season in 22-0 win over McKinley.  This is a program that only a few years ago was struggling to have numbers to field a team.  QB Jonah Fa’asoa threw for 1TD and ran for another.  McKinley played 3 QB’s, including the only female non-kicker (ever?) in high school football, Alexandria Buchanan.

Game to Watch – #1 Saint Louis vs # 2 Kahuku, Friday at Aloha Stadium. Need I say more? This special alliance season gives fans an opportunity to see a preview of a potential State Championship title matchup.  Two huge alumni and community contingents will converge wearing a lot of red and blue. NBC Sports Radio on AM 1500 will have all the coverage starting at approximately 7:30 p.m.

27 August 2018

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Lane kept everyone sheltered in place giving all high school athletics a mandatory bye last week.  Because the OIA does not count the football inter-league games toward their league record, the chances of those games being rescheduled are unlikely. League schedulers for the OIA will be challenged enough trying to re-schedule league games.

If we put the business hat on for the OIA Athletic Directors, cancelling games means loss in gate and concession revenue.  Which is a big punch in the gut for cash strapped public school budgets, and more sweet bread and huli huli chicken to sell.  For coaches, this weekend may have been a blessing in disguise.  One less game of wear and tear on players.  But at this early stage in the season, I think coaches would have wanted the games for team and player development.  If this storm came in late September or early October when players are more banged up, then a week of rest would be more appreciated.

The Big Island may still have scheduling issues depending on the status of school fields.  Honoka’a, Hilo, and Waiakea fields may not be fully recovered from the rains and flooding.  Maui took some hits from Lane as well, and Lahainaluna’s track surrounding the field got damaged from the wildfire.  Hopefully the field area is playable.

Games to Watch – (1) Honokaa at Waiakea on Saturday 9/1.  Both areas hit by flooding over the weekend.  Both communities looking forward to recovering and getting back on track.  (2) #4 Punahou at #10 Farrington, also on Saturday.  History factors in here for old school fans with these two teams.  Interested in watching Punahou’s big fullback Sitiveni Kaufusi (I remember him as Steven in middle school), 6-3, 230.  Buff N Blu may go power on power with the big boys from Kalihi.

20 August 2018
Talent is one thing that fans can spot when watching any high school football game. Find the players that stick out with their speed, quickness or athleticism, and most likely they are the most talented athletes on the field. In the Open Division game between Kahuku and Waianae, there was talent all over the field. But my eyes got wide and glued to a distinct measurable in the scouting community: size. The size of the players on both sides of the line of scrimmage was visually impressive, which is to be expected from these two teams. But still, these are big guys! Kahuku boasts an offensive line that averages 6-1 ½, 287 pounds. Waianae’s line is almost the same: 6-0 ½, 285 pounds. Both teams have happy running backs running behind these walls of granite.

Waianae wins the “Big Boy Team” award, though. Their punter, Zefften Thompson-Avilla, is 6-1 and 300 pounds. Odds are pretty good that he is THE big boy punter in the state. Kahuku won this big boys match-up last Friday, 49-13.

Somewhat quietly, St Francis in D-II has started the season 3-0. But the scores have not but quiet, especially if you were their opponents the last two games. The Saints have defeated McKinley and Waialua by a combined score of 111-6. This is a team that will not play a home game this season. (Although, for the ILH, I would consider Aloha Stadium a pseudo home field, and the Saints only have one game there versus PAC-5.) QB Jonah Aina-Chaves leads the team in passing, rushing and scoring.

The Saints go marching in to Kaiser Stadium this Friday to take on the 1-1-1 Cougars.

Game to Watch this Week #4 – Iolani @ Moanalua, Fri. 8/24. Both teams are undefeated and throw the ball a lot. A game with lots of offense at a good venue. Pretty good concessions, so don’t wait till halftime. Plus, if you can’t make it to the game, you can listen to it live on NBC Sports Radio on AM 1500.