HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 2018 Hawaii high school football season has been one to remember for a lot of reasons.
From the introduction of the Open Division to the stellar play from teams like Roosevelt, Moanalua and Waipahu, this season has been as competitive as any season in recent memory.
However, the season is coming to an end, culminating in three championship-worthy matchups this Saturday in the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA Football State Championships at Aloha Stadium.
Lahainaluna vs. Kapaa
Kicking off the three title games will be the D-II title game between Lahainaluna vs. Kapaa.
In a battle between the Valley Isle vs. the Garden Isle, it’s no-secret that the Lunas are the sizeable favorites going into Saturday after dismantling a dangerous Roosevelt team at home last weekend by a score of 48-10.
Lahainaluna is currently 10-0, looking to clinch its third-straight D-II title after an historic seven-overtime win over Konawaena last season.
In the Lunas’ way is Kapaa, who actually lost to Lahainaluna back in the preseason 30-10 on Kauai.
The Lunas offense is a story in itself - disciplined, efficient and effective running the ball. However, their defense is their backbone.
In their past four games, Lahainaluna has only allowed 10 total points while outscoring its opposition by 177 points. All 10 of these points came in the team’s win over Roosevelt.
On the season, the Lunas have only allowed 39 points in 10 games, an average of 3.9 points per game including four shutout victories.
As for Kapaa, the Warriors are 7-2 and hungry for revenge after an embarrassing preseason loss to Lahainaluna earlier this fall.
Coming off a 20-12 upset win over Kaimuki last weekend, the Warriors have some momentum going into the title game, having scored 153 points in their past four games - an average of 38.25 points per outing.
Points and yards will be hard to come by for the Warriors but running back Ryno Banasihan will surely receive the bulk of carries for Kapaa as he averages 7.4 yards per carry this season.
The senior tailback has rushed for 721 yards on 97 carries, scoring 11 touchdowns. Against Kaimuki, he rushed six times for 73 yards for a 12.2 yards per carry average and in his previous game against Waimea, he carried the rock 13 times for 145 yards and five touchdowns.
As stiff as Lahainaluna’s defense is, limiting Banasihan will be difficult. But if any defense can neutralize a player, it’s the Lunas.
Hilo vs. Waipahu
In the second title game of the night, Hilo is looking to repeat as D-I champions against Waipahu, who wont the D-II title a year ago.
Waipahu is riding high after an emotional comeback win over Iolani two weeks ago, 20-19.
The Marauders are on a four-game winning streak with impressive wins over Kailua and Leilehua.
As for Hilo, the Vikings are 9-1 and are coming off a gritty performance over Maui High in which Hilo won 35-24. Hilo’s only loss came in the preseason against Campbell, 54-14 and the school is 8-0 in league play.
The Vikings average 28.4 points per game on offense while surrendering just 12.5 points defensively., Only two teams (Kealakehe and Maui) have scored more than 13 points against Hilo this season.
Waipahu has been equally impressive, scoring 25.1 points per game while conceding just 18 points. Running back Alfred Failauga is the engine of the Marauders offense with 1,012 rushing yards this season while Deacon Kapea leads Waipahu defensively, picking off Iolani three times in the second half and has nine interceptions this season.
Kapea will look to give Hilo quarterback Kyan Miyasato fits, as Miyasato has thrown 10 interceptions this season.
Saint Louis vs. Mililani
In the third and final state title game of the evening, Saint Louis will look to defend its crown as state champions for the third-consecutive year against Mililani in the Open Division championship game.
Going into their matchup against the Crusaders, the Trojans are considered to be underdogs despite taking down Kahuku in the OIA title game earlier this month, 27-7.
The Trojans then went on to defeat Campbell 24-2 to advance to the Open Division title game.
Currently on a seven-game winning streak, Mililani has a lot of momentum going its matchup against Saint Louis - a game that should have happened earlier this season.
The Crusaders and Trojans were scheduled to play earlier this season before Hurricane Lane struck the islands earlier this fall, forcing a cancellation. On the year, Mililani averages 36.6 points per game, conceding just 15.6 points on the defensive end.
Led by quarterback Dillon Gabriel, Mililani could find some success passing the ball against a very aggressive Crusaders front-seven. Gabriel has thrown for 3,495 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions this season. He has also rushed for three touchdowns.
On the other side of the field is an undefeated Saint Louis team that hasn’t lost a game in nearly two years.
The top-ranked team in the state and Top 10 team in the national rankings, the Crusaders are dangerous on both offense and defense.
Quarterback Jayden de Laura has thrown for 2,144 yards, 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He’s also ran for 302 yards and nine scores. The Crusaders average 47.4 points per game, but some of those points come from defensive touchdowns.
Saint Louis’ defense is as formidable as it gets in high school football, allowing just 14 points per game while conceding just 20.4 rushing yards per outing.
Lahainaluna will look to defend its crown at 1:30 p.m. HT before Hilo takes on Waipahu at 4:30 p.m. Saint Louis vs. Mililani is schedule to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Each game will take place at Aloha Stadium.