Gridiron Preview: Non-League Play Opens at HPA, KS-Hawai`i
The nine-month wait for high school football will end Saturday.
Waiakea, Kamehameha-Hawai`i, and Hawai`i Preparatory Academy open with a pair of games to wet a prep football fan’s appetite. Nine preseason games will be played over the next three weeks as coaches and players tinker and fine tune their game plans and lineups.
Big Island Now previews each of Saturday’s games (last season’s record is listed next to each team).
Waiakea Warriors (3-7 overall, 2-5 BIIF) at Hawai`i Preparatory Academy Ka Makani (5-7 overall, 5-5 BIIF) – 2:00 p.m.
Waiakea takes the field this season with a familiar name calling the shots. Moku Rita takes over for Fred Lau as the Warriors’ head coach this season. Rita was in charge of the offense each of the last few seasons.
The former Kahuku Pop Warner coach has visions of implementing his brand of “rough-house football” at Waiakea, but with the players he currently has, he’s putting that on hold while the team sticks with its spread offense.
“We’ve got a few starters that ran that shotgun offense the last couple years, so I’m gonna stick with that (spread option) for now and slowly implement some Power-I and see how that works out” said Rita.
Kayed Rodrigues, who has shared playing time with the recently graduated Kean Wong, will take the reins at quarterback with Bryce Felipe backing him up. Devin Preston returns as the team’s lead running back.
While all eyes are trained to Kamehameha-Hawai`i and Konawaena in the Division II race, HPA will aim to be a sleeper squad this season. After struggling through the first half of last season, Ka Makani showed life in the last few games, including a shootout loss at Konawaena.
Kalaheo Mustangs (5-5 overall, 5-3 OIA White) at Kamehameha-Hawai`i Warriors (10-3 overall, 7-3 BIIF) – 7:00 p.m., ESPNHawaii.com.
Kalaheo fell short of the OIA White championship game last season after falling hard to Radford High School. That same game also served as an early preview of what the Mustangs expect to do with senior Makena Johnston.
In the loss, Johnston ran for 150 yards on 10 carries while catching three passes for 94 yards. Head Coach Darrell Poole expects Johnston to be a major part of the offense. He will need to be, since the Mustangs lost their top two rushers and top four receivers from last season due to graduation.
The Mustangs also lost quarterback Stephen Lee, who transferred to Castle High School following his sophomore season. Stepping into his spot is Jack Bell, a three-sport athlete who is well known as a standout pitcher on the baseball team.
Kamehameha-Hawai`i, on the other hand, returns key pieces on offense. Micah Kanehailua returns as the team’s starting quarterback. Last season he split reps with Brandon Howes, who has transferred to Konawaena.
Faaolaina Teofilo also returns to lead the Warriors’ ground attack.
The previously scheduled junior varsity game between Kamehameha-Hawai`i and Kea`au is now a controlled scrimmage. It will still begin at 5:00 p.m.