Stat speak: Thoughts on the OIA D1 and D2 title games

First of all, congratulations to both Kahuku and Radford on claiming their respective league championships.

For those of you who dare to peer into the Crystal ball-Ing, you'll know that I batted .500 on picks last week, with an incorrect pick of both the winner and the scoring volume of the tilt between the Trojans and Red Raiders in the OIA Division I championship.

So is this my way of trying to explain away where I went wrong last week? I'm sure many will see it that way. But ultimately, I'd like to think of it as less rationalization, and more food for thought looking ahead via what the numbers seem to point to.

First, some points to ponder on Mililani and Kahuku.

The physicality of the Red Raiders' front line as well as their secondary's ability to make plays in the passing game were as advertised, but I think the relative ease in which the Trojans were able to move the ball in the opening quarter, and specifically prior to the departure of quarterback Dillon Gabriel, has to be a bit of a concern. Of the Trojans' 180 yard total on the night, 158 of those came prior to the Gabriel injury, and in just under one quarter's worth of play. To put things in perspective, the Red Raiders allow an average of 130 yards of offense PER GAME, but gave up 28 more yards than that to the Trojans, with more than 3/4 of the game left to play. Its hard to not ask what kind of game the Trojans could have had offensively with Gabriel playing the whole way.

Wideout Kalakaua Timoteo's abrupt transformation from focal point of the offense to relative afterthought clearly stemmed from the lack of a passer to get the ball to out to him, and basically led to the demise of the Trojans offensive prowess, especially against a defense the caliber of the Red Raiders. All four of Timoteo's receptions came in the first quarter, including a stretch of three straight that was followed up a play later by a 41-yard gallop by Vavae Malepeai. Without the threat of a mid-to-deep ball lurking, the Kahuku defensive gameplan got considerably easier.

Kahuku gained 244 yards of offense in total against Mililani, about 50 yards under its season average. On the year, 14 percent of the Red Raiders offensive output came via the pass, but against the Trojans, 37 percent was of the aerial variety. Big Red managed just 2.9 yards per carry on the ground in the Division I title game after churning averages of 5.9 and 8.9 against Farrington and Kapolei, respectively. Success through the air via the arm of Cameron Renaud was an important added facet for Kahuku, and I think it was ultimately the difference in the game at least offensively for the Red Raiders. The need to put up double-digit passing attempts may not ever arise again, but Kahuku has shown that it certainly can take to the air if need be.

Keala Santiago was everywhere against Mililani. He garnered three interceptions and three tackles on defense, added two key pass receptions for 34 yards and another rush for 21 yards that all but shut the door on the Trojans late in the fourth. His prowess in the return game (three kick returns for scores in 2015) can't be discounted either, though his services in that facet didn't factor in the title game. He is a playmaker, plain and simple.

Mililani's defense may not be as heralded as Kahuku's, but played impressively in the title game. Kaimana Padello led the way with seven tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack, and the Trojans front line limited big gains in the run game all night. Specifically, only four runs went for 10 yards or more out of a possible 52 carries. What's more, 31 carries gained three yards or less, and 18 rushes went for one yard or less.

Now lets take a look at the Rams and Bulldogs.

Radford's triple threat of Ace Faumui, Kodi Ongory-Mathias and Blaise Manabe accounted for 275 of the Rams' 345 total yards. The one-two power punch of Faumui and Ongory-Mathias commands respect in the interior, leaving the edges vulnerable to the speedy Manabe in a change-of-pace role. Speaking of Manabe, the Rams would be well served to continue to find ways to get him the ball, period. The 5-foot-9 all-purpose may very well be the only player in the state to have a touchdown as a passer, runner, receiver and returner, and needs to be in the double-digit touch range down the stretch.

The Bulldogs were held to just 43 yards of rushing, but it wasn't for a lack of effort, in particular by running back Billy Masima. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior consistently avoided first contact tackles and display great vision and burst. The 72 yard total marked just the second time as a starter that Masima was held under 100 yards.

Rams quarterback Quintin Iriarte has had his share of struggles in the passing game, but to his credit, broke a streak of four straight games with two or more interceptions thrown, going 8 of 15 for 64 yards with no picks against the Bulldogs. His ability as a runner certainly is a nice bonus, and he was even the recipient of a touchdown pass on a nicely executed gadget play.

Kaimuki quarterback Keanu Pratt closed out the regular season with four straight games with a least two touchdown passes, nine in total, and averaged 170.5 yards through the air during that stretch. Of those nine passing scores, six of them were on gains of 40 yards or more, including connections of 65, 68, and 71 yards. Kaimuki is not afraid to take its chances deep, and just missed on a number of long balls against Radford. Look for the Bulldogs to continue to stretch the field against opponents come tourney time.

Radford's defense may not necessarily be as physically imposing as Kahuku's, and yes, I'm well aware of the Division I versus Division II argument, but the Rams have been just as stingy to opponents in terms of both yards and points allowed. In fact, the Rams have given up an average of just 86.2 yards per game, more than 40 yards less than the Red Raiders (129.8/game), and have allowed a measly 4.7 points per outing, just over a point more than Kahuku's 3.5 a contest.

Reach Brien Ing at [email protected].

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