Castle, Waipahu, Kailua, Mililani square off
By Wes Nakama
Advertiser Staff Writer
Waipahu will get its chance on the big stage and Mililani will get a chance at redemption in tomorrow's O'ahu Interscholastic Association football playoffs.
Waipahu, runner-up of the OIA White Conference, takes on Red runner-up Castle at 2 p.m. at Mililani. At 7:30, Mililani will enjoy home-field advantage against Kailua. The winners will advance to the OIA final four and earn berths in the Hawai'i High School Athletic Association tournament.
Here is a closer look at each game:
CASTLE vs. WAIPAHU
- Records: Castle 7-2 overall, 7-1 Red; Waipahu 8-1, 7-1 White
- Seeds: Castle No. 2 Red, Waipahu No. 2 White
- Last week: Castle defeated Leilehua 41-0; Waipahu had a bye
- Series record: Waipahu leads, 28-6-1
- Last meeting: Oct. 22, 1999 Waipahu 34, Castle 21
- Key factors: Waipahu, demoted from the Red after last season, is back in the limelight again after winning five straight games. The Marauders feature a strong Mr. Inside-Mr. Outside running back combination in fullback Avei Moevao and tailback Andy Hale. Moevao, 5 feet 10 and 250 pounds, rushed for 128 yards on 16 carries against Roosevelt in a game where Hale was held to 18 yards on 14 carries. Hale (5-7, 160) has run the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds and is one of the fastest backs on O'ahu. He finished third among the White rushing leaders with 634 yards and seven touchdowns, despite missing one game with an injury. Travis Atualevao stepped in for Hale in that game and rushed for 138 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. A strong running game is a valuable ball-control tool against Castle, which has an offense that can strike quickly ... Waipahu quarterback Paulo Aga may not be flashy and does not have the eye-popping numbers posted by some of the league's other quarterbacks, but he gets the job done. He passed for 725 yards and 11 touchdowns in the regular season, against only three interceptions. ... Castle has one of the state's most exciting players in quarterback Joel Botelho, a 5-8, 155-pound senior left-hander who led the Red in passing (1,743 yards, 16 touchdowns) and was third in rushing (579 yards, seven TDs). Botelho completed 54 percent of his passes and threw only two interceptions all season. ... Castle's defense will give up yardage, but it also has come up with big plays. Linebacker Joe McKeague made 17 tackles against Kailua two weeks ago and helped preserve the 36-29 victory when he intercepted a pass with under a minute remaining.
KAILUA at MILILANI
- Records: Kailua 7-2 overall, 6-2 Red; Mililani 5-4, 4-4 Red
- Seeds: Kailua No. 3 Red, Mililani No. 5 Red
- Last week: Kailua defeated Kaimuki 28-8; Mililani had a bye
- Series record: Kailua leads, 7-2
- Last meeting: Sept. 21, 2001 Kailua 34, Mililani 28
- Key factors: In an earlier meeting six weeks ago, Mililani was leading 28-24 with four minutes left when it fumbled the ball away on third-and-a-foot. Kailua capitalized, with tailback Brenton Harbottle scoring on a 38-yard touchdown run for the winning score. "We have to keep away from turnovers, because they cost us the last time," Mililani coach James Millwood said. "That, and big plays. We have to play good, smart football." ... Kailua's offense has evolved since the beginning of the season, from a pass-oriented attack based around quarterback Taleki Mailau (1,112 yards, 12 TDs) to a ball-control ground game giving Harbottle 20-plus carries. The Surfriders' beefy offensive line and Harbottle's ability to quickly hit the holes they provide makes that possible. Harbottle was the Red rushing champion with 794 yards and eight touchdowns. Like Harbottle, halfback Nathan Leaver is averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Kailua ran 60 plays against Mililani, and 60 more against Castle. "They're scarier now," Millwood said. ... The Surfriders have a big-play receiver in Ryan Lum, who also is a dangerous return specialist. ... Mililani's defense suffered a big blow when standout linebacker Braddah Kalahiki dislocated his shoulder four weeks ago. He has not played since and is out for tomorrow's game. Defensive end Kaipo Patoc, who had three sacks and a caused fumble against Kaimuki three weeks ago, will lead the Trojans' defense. ... Mililani quarterback Mana Au has passed for 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns, but Millwood is hoping to also mix a running game into his offense with halfback Kepa Morris ... Because of a last-minute change in sites to accommodate TV, Mililani will enjoy rare home field advantage against Kailua for the second time in six weeks.