Waveriders Stunned by Hawai`i Prep
Hawai`i Preparatory Academy football coach Jordan Hayslip said before Saturday night’s game at Kealakehe that getting an opportunity to play against the defending Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I champions caused a little extra excitement during game week.
Hayslip’s football team channeled that excitement into energy and made plays in every facet of the game as Ka Makani defeated Kealakehe 34-21 at Waverider Stadium.
“Our guys played such a hard fought game tonight,” said Hayslip after the game. “I’m just really proud of them.”
Kealakehe’s loss was its first regular season defeat since the 2008 season. The Waveriders forfeited the BIIF championship that season after using an ineligible player. Prior to that, Kealakehe lost to Waiakea at the end of the 2007 regular season.
Both teams were locked up in a relatively high scoring first half. Kealakehe gave the ball away on its first posession when Kaimi Wilson threw an interception to HPA’s Kellen Gillins. Ka Makani capitalized with a 14 play, 53 yard drive that ended with a Bobby Lum one-yard touchdown run to give HPA a 7-0 lead with 4:34 to go in the opening quarter.
Hawai`i Prep’s (3-1 overall, 1-1 BIIF) special teams unit was, at times, its biggest weakness. A nine yard punt by Gillins early in the second quarter gave Kealakehe great field position at HPA’s 25 yard line. Four plays later, Wilson lobbed a 15-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Keaho Kaakimaka. Keanu Tilfas’ two-point conversion run was successful, giving the Waveriders an 8-7 lead with 9:52 left in the opening half.
On the ensuing kickoff, Blake Hooser turned the momentum of the game back toward Ka Makani, returning Tuitahi Faleofa’s ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the end zone to put HPA ahead 14-8.
Kealakehe’s (1-2 overall, 1-1 BIIF) rushing offense started to come together, thanks to sophomore Riggs Kurashige. The Waveriders’ slotback was rarely used last year but saw a lot of touches Saturday. Kurashige’s 18-yard touchdown run put Kealakehe back on top 15-14 with 3:16 left in the opening half.
Kurashige gained 115 yards on only nine carries in the first half. He finished with 188 yards on 20 rushes.
Once again, Ka Makani had an immediate answer to the Waveriders’ score. On HPA’s first play from scrimmage, quarterback Koa Ellis Jr. dumped a screen pass off to Lum, who ran the rest of the way down the left sideline and into the end zone. The 71-yard connection gave the lead back to Hawai`i Prep at 20-15 with 2:58 remaining in the half.
After a Kealakehe three-and-out, HPA struck again. Ellis connected with Justin Perry on a 61-yard touchdown catch-and-run to add to the lead with 1:36 left in the half. Ellis’ two-point connection to Gillins put HPA ahead 28-15 before the end of the half.
HPA struggled to get its offensive footing to start the second half. Meanwhile, the Waveriders crept back into the game. Wilson found Kaakimaka once again for a 23-yard touchdown strike, put Kealakehe within seven points at 28-21 with 7:13 remaining.
Turnovers would keep Kealakehe from getting any closer. After HPA fumbled the football away on its next drive, Kealakehe gave it right back as Akoni DeMello fumbled the football in Ka Makani territory. On the next drive, Kaakimika fumbled away a completed pass from Wilson
Hawai`i Prep fumbled the ball away twice in the half as well but put a successful drive together when it counted. Late in the fourth, HPA capitalized on a short field and drove 40 yards on eight plays, capped off by a Lum 10-yard touchdown run to pad its lead to 34-21 with 2:24 left.
The shocking conclusion to the game came in Kealakehe’s final drive. Nicky Palleschi sacked Wilson for a loss of ten yards, one of four sacks HPA made on the game. Two plays later, Kealakehe opted to punt the football from its own 30 yard line instead of going for a fourth-and-16 play to stay alive. HPA was then able to run out the clock, sealing victory.
HPA’s offensive balance was crucial to victory. Ellis had his best night of the season in the pocket, completing nine of 20 pass attempts for 189 yards and two touchdowns, complimenting Lum’s heavy rushing load. The senior running back picked up 101 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.
“Bobby still carried the ball a lot, especially in the fourth quarter there,” said Hayslip. “Koa played a great game at quarterback. He threw some great passes and had some receivers make some great catches. We were pretty balanced today.”
HPA travels to Wong Stadium Friday night to take on Waiakea. Ka Makani shut out the Warriors in the opening week of the preseason. Meanwhile, Kealakehe will host another Division II opponent when Kamehameha-Hawai`i visits on Saturday. Both games can be heard on ESPN Radio and ESPNHawaii.com.
Hawai`i Prep 7 21 0 7 – 35
Kealakehe 0 15 6 0 – 21
1st (4:34) – HPA: Bobby Lum 1 yd TD run (Alex Brost XPT good)
2nd (9:52) – KEALAKEHE: Kaimi Wilson 15 yd TD pass to Keaho Kaakimaka (Keanu Tilfas 2PT run good)
2nd (9:33) – HPA: Blake Hooser 90 yd kickoff return for TD (Brost XPT good)
2nd (3:16) – KEALAKEHE: Riggs Kurashige 18 yd TD run (Ari Mench XPT good)
2nd (2:58) – HPA: Koa Ellis Jr. 71 yd TD pass to Lum (Brost XPT no good)
2nd (1:36) – HPA: Ellis Jr. 61 yd TD pass to Justin Perry (Ellis pass to Gillins good)
3rd (7:13) – KEALAKEHE: Wilson 23 yd TD pass to Kaakimaka (Mench XPT blocked)
4th (2:24) – HPA: Lum 10 yd TD run (Brost XPT blocked)
***Story updated at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, September 8 to correct the name of the HPA player who returned a kickoff for a touchdown.***