Hilo Capitalizes on Kealakehe Mistakes to Win BIIF DI Title
For over a year, Hilo head coach David Baldwin has referred to his team’s attempts to defeat the Kealakehe Waveriders as trying to “climb Mount Kealakehe.”
After struggling in last year’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I championship game, the Vikings have finally made it to the top.
Hilo scored 21 points, all off of Waverider turnovers, to defeat Kealakehe 21-10, securing the 2013 BIIF Division I championship and a trip to the First Hawaiian Bank / Hawai`i High School Athletic Association Division I Football Championships.
“Fulfilling,” said Baldwin of his feelings moments after the championship victory. “Destiny and fate collided and helped us reach our goals. We finally got to a point where we realized it was worth it.”
Kealakehe (4-6 overall, 4-5 BIIF) turned the ball over five times. Its first came early in the opening quarter when Louie Garcia touched a punt that was bouncing on the ground and never possessed it. Tristan O’Dell recovered the ball, and two plays later, Hilo’s Donovan Kelley tossed a pass into the left flat for Aven Kualii, who ran through a few defenders into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown completion. Freshman Lukas Kuipers knocked the extra point through to give Hilo a 7-0 lead with 6:53 remaining in the quarter.
Kualii caught four passes for 82 yards. He also threw an interception on the opening play of the game. Kelley completed four of his 12 passing attempts, with all of his completions going to Kualii.
Two drives later, the Waveriders drove down the field into the red zone on a completion from quarterback Keoni Yates to Louie Garcia. Garcia, however, fumbled the football, and Ofa Fahiua picked it up and took it to the 14-yard line.
The Vikings went on an 11 play drive, but stalled when Kuipers missed a 30-yard field goal in the second quarter to keep the score at 7-0.
The third turnover from Kealakehe came on a fumble from Yates, which was recovered at the Kealakehe 13 yard line by Chad Chun Fat. Three plays later, Sione Atuekaho found Kelley in the middle of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown pass to go up 14-0 with 6:59 remaining in the first half.
Atuekaho completed four of his seven pass attempts for 54 yards.
Kealakehe got right back in the game with a 14 play, 60 yard drive, capped off by Yates’ 35-yard field goal to put Kealakehe on the board with 53 seconds left in the half.
Hilo (10-1, 9-0) had three drives that started in Kealakehe in the third quarter. The first two drives ended with punts while the final drive ended with a missed 30-yard field goal by Kuipers.
“There’s a reason Kealakehe has been champions,” said Baldwin of Kealakehe’s defensive effort. “They didn’t go down easily, they did not go down quietly, and they played their hearts out. We were down there, but they played their hearts out.”
It was Hilo’s defense at the end of the day that propelled the Vikings to victory. Early the fourth quarter, Yates looked to complete a pass in the left flat when Fahiua picked it out of the air and returned it 30 yards to give Hilo a 21-3 with 11:01 remaining in the game.
Fahiua, a junior standout who plays on both sides of the ball, had two interceptions, a fumble recovery, and a sack, along with that interception return.
“We did okay,” Baldwin said jokingly after the game. “Something I learned from Cal Lee is that offense wins games and defense wins championships.”
Kealakehe answered back on its next drive when Yates ran in a one-yard touchdown run to cut the Vikings’ lead to 21-10 with 9:01 left in the game. On its next drive, the Waveriders once again got inside the Hilo five-yard line with less than five minutes to play, but Yates struggled to control a bad snap and Isi Holani recovered it to end the drive.
Yates rushed for 15 yards on 23 carries. He also completed nine of his 17 passing attempts for 100 yards.
Hilo had a chance to run out the clock, but threw an incomplete pass on second down following a Kealakehe timeout and fumbled the ball away on its next play to give Kealakehe just over a minute to to try to claw back into the game.
After an incomplete pass, Yates ran out of the pocket and picked up seven yards, but did not get out of bounds. On the next play, Yates slipped to the soggy field under pressure and lost eight yards. On fourth down, Yates rolled right and ran out of bounds without throwing the football to turn the ball back to the Vikings and start a celebration that, in recent memory, has usually been reserved for Kealakehe.
Both defenses lived up the billing they were given before the game. Hilo’s defense held Kealakehe to just 149 yards of total offense, 23 on the ground. Meanwhile, the Waveriders held Hilo’s leading rusher, Tristan Spikes, to just 49 yards on 21 carries. The Vikings were limited to just 206 yards of total offense.
Hilo’s season continues next Friday when the Vikings host Campbell in the opening round of the Division I state tournament. The game will be played at Kea`au High School and will kick off at 7:00 p.m. It can be heard at ESPNHawaii.com.
Kealakehe 0 3 0 7 – 10
Hilo 7 7 0 7 – 21
2nd (6:59) – HILO: Sione Atuekaho 16 yard TD pass to Kelley (Kuipers kick good)
2nd (:53) – KEALAKEHE: Keoni Yates 35 yard FG
4th (11:01) – HILO: Ofa Fahiua 30 yard INT return for TD (Kuipers kick good)