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.

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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.

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.

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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