Maui Sports

Punahou, Waipahu Next for MIL Champs

November 18, 2011, 8:17 AM HST
* Updated November 18, 9:37 AM
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By Fred Guzman

There’s no getting around it:  Both Baldwin and Lahainaluna are decided underdogs going into today’s semifinal round of the First Hawaiian Bank/HHSAA state football tournaments.

In Division-I, Baldwin will tangle with second-seeded Punahou in a 4 p.m. game at Aloha Stadium.  The Lunas visit second-seeded Waipahu at 7 p.m. in D-II match-up.

Both games will be aired live on Maui’s ESPN 550 and espn550.com, with the possibility of having to join the nightcap in progress.

Punahou is regarded as the most complete team in the tournament after having survived a playoff with Kamehameha to win the ILH title and improve its overall record to 10-2.

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Offensively, Punahou feautures a bruising tailback in Steve Lakalaka and highly-recruited, 6-5, 285-pound lineman Max Sparks. Lakalaka has a combined 1,200-plus yards and 12 touchdowns from scrimmage.

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That includes 30 receptions, mostly on swing routes.  Defensively, the Buffanblu are exceptional.  Punahou also has a not-so-secret weapon in Kaimi Fairbairn, who has made nine field goals with a long of 53 yards.

Waipahu also has featured a solid defense throughout the league season, including a close win over Pearl City for the  OIA D-II title.

In other games:  Top-seeded Kahuku faces Leilehua in a battle of OIA rivals in the 7 p.m. D-I semifinal at Aloha Stadium.  Top-seeded and defending champ Iolani hosts Kapaa in the other D-II semi. The title games in both divisions are next Friday at Aloha Stadium.

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