West Hawai`i Rivalry Goes to Konawaena
The game didn’t mean anything in the standings, but the energy, passion, and excitement displayed on the field and in the stands Friday night at Waverider Stadium told a different story.
Konawaena quarterback Brandon Howes tossed three touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Wildcats walked out of Kealakehe High School with a 37-23 victory to close the regular season.
Kealakehe coach Sam Papalii said before the game that his Waveriders need to win not only to make a statement to the cross-town Wildcats, but to the rest of the league as a reminder that “the title still goes through us.”
Kealakehe (3-5 overall, 3-4 BIIF) opened up the game with Papalii’s message in mind. The Waveriders scored on its opening posession of the game when Riggs Kurashige capped off a 10-play drive with a 37-yard touchdown run to put Kealahkehe on top 7-0 with 7:20 left in the opening quarter.
Kurashige, a sophomore, rushed for 74 yards on 16 carries in the losing effort.
The Waveriders’ physical defense followed up the offense’s success by forcing a three-and-out on Konawaena’s first possession. Kealakehe, however, opened the door for its opponents shortly after when Akoni DeMello fumbled away the football on the next drive. Four plays later, Howes found his brother, Cameron Howes, for a 37-yard touchdown strike to even the score at 7-7 with 2:35 left in the first period.
Following a three-and-out by the home team, the Wildcats quickly struck again to take the lead. Howes found Chase Takaki on the very next play from scrimmage for a 58-yard touchdown completion to put the Wildcats ahead 14-7 with 1:20 remaining in the first quarter.
Kealakehe once again gave it away when Keoni Yates fumbled the football away. Jordan Miyahira-Young recovered the loose ball to set up a short field for the Wildcats’ next posession at Kealakehe’s 38 yard line.
On the first play of the drive, Howes completed a pass over the middle of the field to Bubba Ellis-Noa, who rumbled down to the one yard line. Two plays later, Howes ran a sweep to the right side of the field and scored untouched to put the Wildcats ahead by the score of 21-7 with 1:30 remaining in the opening half.
Konawaena (7-2, 6-1) opened up the second half by adding immediate pressure on the home Waveriders. Dishon Cho returned the opening kickoff 99 yards down the right sideline to add six more points to Konawaena’s lead.
Yates kicked a 29 yard field goal to cut Konawaena’s lead to 27-10 with 6:54 remaining in the third quarter. The Waveriders failed to convert a fake punt attempt on its next drive and threw an interception after that. The Wildcats made them pay when Howes connected once again with Takaki on a 41 yard touchdown completion with 2:52 remaining in the third period.
Howes finished the game with 225 yards passing, completing 11 of 25 passing attempts. He also threw two interceptions. His league leading passing total improved to 2,479 passing yards with 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.
Takaki caught four passes for 131 yards. He leads his team with 49 catches, 885 receiving yards, and 10 touchdowns.
The Waveriders hung around throughout the fourth quarter. After Howes was intercepted by Louie Garcia, Keanu Tilfas plowed into the end zone for a five-yard touchdown run to cut Konawaena’s lead to 34-16 with 10:37 remaining.
John Replogle kicked a 21-yard field goal to push the lead ahead to 37-16 with 5:37 left to play. On the Wildcats’ next drive, backup quarterback Shelton Grace threw an interception to Keaho Kaawa, who returned it 43 yards for a touchdown, cutting Konawaena’s lead to 14 points with 3:59 left.
Kealakehe got the ball back and was driving down the field with under a minute to play, but Wilson was picked one last time by Cameron Howes to seal the victory for Konawaena.
Konawaena, the top seed in Division II, will host fourth-seeded Honoka`a next Friday night in the opening round of the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II semifinals. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. Kealakehe, the second-seeded team in Division I, will host Waiakea on Saturday night in the Division I semifinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. following the junior varsity contest, which starts at 5:00 p.m.
Rivera retires his whistle
Friday’s regular season contest was the last for veteran official George Rivera.
Rivera, who first officiated a high school football game in 1977, said before the game that he would be working his last regular season contest. He was the referee for Friday’s game between Konawaena and Kealakehe.
Rivera, who turns 79 years old in December, said he most enjoyed working with the student athletes on the field while officiating.
Konawaena 14 7 13 3 – 37
Kealakehe 7 0 3 13 – 23
1st (2:35) – KONAWAENA: Brandon Howes 37 yd TD pass to Cameron Howes (John Replogle XPT good)
1st (1:08) – KONAWAENA: Brandon Howes 58 yd TD pass to Chase Takaki (Replogle XPT good)
2nd (1:30) – KONAWAENA: B. Howes 1 yd TD run (Replogle XPT good)
3rd (11:44) – KONAWAENA: Dishon Cho 99 yd kickoff return for TD (XPT failed)
3rd (6:54) – KEALAKEHE: Yates 29 yd FG
3rd (2:52) – KONAWAENA: B. Howes 41 yd TD pass to Takaki (Replogle XPT good)
4th (10:37) – KEALAKEHE: Keanu Tilfas 5 yd TD run (2PT failed)
4th (5:37) – KONAWAENA: John Replogle 21 yd FG