Gridiron Preview: League Championship Berths At Stake This Weekend
The Big Island Interscholastic Federation’s football playoffs begin this weekend as all eight teams will chase a spot in the First Hawaiian Bank / Hawai`i High School Athletic Association state championships in November.
The winners of each semifinal game will advance to the league championship game. The Division II title game will be played on Fri., Nov. 1 while the Division I championship will be contested the following night.
Konawaena will host the Division II championship after Honoka`a announced Wednesday that it forfeited the game because of low numbers and injury concerns. The top-seeded Wildcats, who currently have an 8-2 overall record and 6-1 league mark, will host either Kamehameha-Hawai`i or Hawai`i Prep for the league’s only spot in the Division II state tournament.
There is only one spot for the BIIF in the Division I state tournament. Hosting duties may be determined Friday if Hilo, the division’s top seed, defeats Kea`au in a semifinal matchup.
#4 Kea`au (1-6 overall, 1-6 BIIF) at #1 Hilo (8-1 overall, 7-0 BIIF) – 7:30 p.m. Friday, ESPNHawaii.com
The Cougars have played the last three weeks under new leadership.
Kalei Young is currently serving as interim head coach after Michael Nonies resigned for personal reasons. Nonies told Big Island Now that he still works with the coaches with film and preparation for its upcoming opponents.
In a radio interview Thursday, Young said that what Nonies worked to build at Kea`au will be continued by the staff. “Mike had started a vision of really bringing character into our kids in everything they do on the football field and off the football field, and we are continuing that. That translates to football as well. If we can continue to make that a point with them, they will be able to have the right mindset to be effective on the football field.”
Offensive consistency is a key for the Cougars. Quarterback George Lucas-Tadeo threw for 158 yards in last week’s loss to Kamehameha-Hawai`i, but most importantly, threw three interceptions in the 16-0 defeat.
Hilo defeated Kea`au 45-20 on Sept. 7.
#3 Kamehameha-Hawai`i (5-4, 4-3) at #2 Hawai`i Prep (7-2, 5-2) – 3:00 p.m. Saturday
Ka Makani defeated Kamehameha-Hawai`i two weeks ago to secure the second seed in the Division II tournament. Senior running back Bobby Lum picked up 207 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries to secure the victory.
Kamehameha-Hawai`i signal caller Micah Kanehailua was sacked twice, but threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort. On the season, the junior quarterback has thrown for 1,376 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Kickoff of this game was moved back an hour because of PSAT testing earlier in the morning.
#3 Waiakea (3-7, 2-5) at #2 Kealakehe (3-5, 3-4) – 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Kealakehe secured the second-seed in the Division I tournament with its 31-14 victory two weeks ago over the Warriors. Waiakea combined to rush for 182 yards, 81 of them from sophomore Pono Auwae, in the road loss.
Kealakehe’s Keoni Yates has added an extra threat to the team’s rushing attack. Yates, who also is the team’s kicker, punter, and defensive back, led the Waveriders with 81 rushing yards in last week’s 37-23 loss to Konawaena. He took most of the offensive snaps at the slot position, but head coach Sam Papalii expects to put Yates at quarterback and running back at various times to take advantage of his versatility.