Gridiron Preview: League’s Top Passer and Rusher Meet
Two of the top offensive players in the state highlight a game between two of the top teams in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Saturday afternoon.
Hawai`i Preparatory Academy and Konawaena High School will meet at 2:00 p.m. at HPA’s upper campus. Ka Makani enters this weekend’s tilt with the top rusher in Division II, Bobby Lum. The senior has amassed 665 yards on 116 carries, both state highs. He also has 49.5 tackles at the linebacker position.
Believe it or not, Lum may not be the most important player on the field Saturday for Hawai`i Prep. Quarterback Koa Ellis Jr. has thrown four touchdown passes in the last two weeks, beating Kealakehe and Waiakea, respectively, to help create a dangerous balanced attack that Ka Makani coach Jordan Hayslip hopes will make his team hard to beat.
On the other side, Konawaena’s high-powered offense is led by quarterback Brandon Howes. The transfer from Kamehameha-Hawai`i has tossed 16 touchdowns and has thrown for 1,575 yards on the season. His yard total puts him in third place among all Division II passers in the state.
The Wildcats, entering Saturday with a 4-1 overall record and 3-0 league mark, have scored at least 37 points in each of the first five games this season. Most of their offensive firepower has come through Howes, who also leads the team with 251 rushing yards.
How important is this game? Konawaena coach Cliff Walters answered that question in an interview with ScoringLive.com. He told the prep sports website that the new rules this season have placed less importance on one singluar game, since “all four teams make the playoffs, so for us it’s just a matter of going into each game, doing the best that we can and peaking at the playoff time.”
HPA enters the game with a 4-1 overall record and 2-1 league record.
Kealakehe (1-3 overall, 1-2 BIIF) at Honoka`a (0-4 overall, 0-3 BIIF) – 7:00 p.m. Friday
The Waveriders were their own biggest enemy last Saturday in losing to Kamehameha-Hawai`i. Kealakehe turned the ball over eight times, seven of them coming in the second half, in the 27-6 loss.
Despite losing two straight home games, the defending Division I champions have seemingly mastered the counter rushing attack to gain big plays on the ground. In last week’s loss, Kealakehe rushed for 328 yards, amounting for all but 56 yards of their total offensive production.
Kealakehe is expected to get back one of its most skilled players Friday. Head coach Sam Papalii said last week that Keoni Yates, who caught passes, kicked, and played in the defensive secondary last season, is expected to return against the Dragons. How Yates will be used, mainly on the offensive end, remains to be seen.
Hilo (4-1, 3-0) at Kamehameha-Hawai`i (3-2, 2-1) – 7:30 p.m. Friday, ESPNHawaii.com
With the Hilo Jaycees Hawai`i County Fair taking over the Wong Stadium grounds, the Vikings are being forced to take their big play offense about 10 minutes up the road to the home of the Warriors.
The Vikings are averaging 31.2 points per game so far this season. There is one problem, however. Most of Hilo’s production has been done without a credible passing game to back it up.
Head coach David Baldwin has utilized a pair of junior quarterbacks, Sione Atuekaho and Donovan Kelley, to try to cook up the perfect recipe for balance. The results are mixed as both have combined to complete 21 of 62 passes for 351 yards with six touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
The Vikings most consistent offensive weapon has been Tristan Spikes, who has quietly rushed for 479 yards and a pair of touchdowns in four games this season. Spikes missed the non-league opener against Waiakea.
It will be the job of senior linebacker Timmy Burke to lead the Kamehameha-Hawai`i defense in stopping Spikes and Kelley from breaking big plays. Burke, who head coach Dan Lyons calls a leader on the defensive side of the ball, leads his team with 26.5 tackles and four sacks. He also has two fumble recoveries.
Warriors’ quarterback Micah Kanehailua shined last week in Lyons’ quick-rhythm, pass heavy attack. He threw for 202 yards and four touchdowns, three of them to Logan Uyetake, and took a large weight off of the shoulders of workhorse running back Ina Teofilo, who was kept to a season low 38 rushing yards in the win.
Waiakea (1-4, 1-2) at Kea`au (0-3, 0-3) – 4:30 p.m. Saturday
Waiakea, like Kealakehe. gave the ball away eight times last week in a 42-12 loss at home against Hawai`i Prep. Seven of those turnovers were fumbles. Senior running back Devin Preston coughed it up three times, a blemish on his 103 yard rushing night.
The Cougars defense will be tested by Waiakea’s spread attack. Kea`au has allowed 32.7 points per game so far this season while scoring just 11 on average.