Konawaena Holds Off Kauai in Season Opener
Academics, injuries, and transfers did a number to the roster sizes for both Kauai and Konawaena Saturday night.
In the end, it was Konawaena’s experience on both offense and defense that made the difference, giving the Wildcats a 14-6 victory over the Red Raiders at Julian R. Yates Field.
“You had two teams that could both barely stand up at the end,” said Konawaena Head Coach Cliff Walters. “All I wanted out of this game was to see a group of players that would come out of this thing with enough heart to fight, and they learned to fight tonight.”
Konawena (1-0) suited up 22 players for the game while Kauai dressed 21 as both teams had to work around academic probation and injuries. By the end of the night, Konawaena seemed to have enough in the tank, especially on defense, to pull out the win.
After a scoreless first half in which both teams gave the ball away on downs in their opponents’ territory, the Wildcats’ defense provided a quick burst of momentum to change the game. After Konawaena turned the ball over on downs at the Red Raiders’ three yard line, the defense turned up the pressure on Kauai quarterback Aaron Renaud, who failed to throw the ball out of the end zone before losing it for a safety.
From there, the offense took the cue to wear out its opponent. Konawaena went on a 12-play, 65-yard drive that was capped off with a Bubba Ellis-Noa one-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 14-0
Kauai (0-1) was pushed against the ropes at that point. A three-and-out drive gave Konawaena the ball right back at midfield, and the Wildcats marched down the field for a 10-play drive, wrapped up by Cameron Howes’ 15-yard touchdown pass to Shelton Grace to extend the lead to 14-0 early in the fourth quarter.
The door was left just a little bit open for Kauai to stay in the game, thanks to a pair of personal foul penalties and an intentional grounding call against Konawaenawith under 1:15 to play in the game. That backed Konawaena punter Kevin Medeiros into his own end zone for a punt, which he failed to get off when he lost the ball. Kauai’s Christopher Martinez picked up the ball at the one yard line and rolled across the goal line to score, putting the Red Raiders within eight.
Renaud’s onside kick was recovered by Konawaena with :43 left on the clock, and the victory was sealed.
Konawaena’s offense appeared to be a work in progress with both Howes and Grace taking snaps at quarterback. Howes completed five of his six second-half passing attempts for 56 yards and a touchdown. His biggest weapon was his feet, however, as he gained 63 yards on 18 carries. Grace completed just six of 18 passing attempts for 33 yards and a first half interception.
“We’re not sure which way we’re gonna go with that yet,” Walters said after the game. “I’m happy with both of them. They are two different styles, and it’s nice to put one style in and then another style.”
Senior Bubba Ellis-Noa, who saw time at both the slot and running back positions, led the team with 67 yards rushing on 12 carries. He also had three catches for 12 yards.
Kauai entered this game with a late transition at quarterback, as projected starter Kalawai`a Judd transferred to Kaiser less than two weeks before the season started. That left Renaud, a sophomore, to step into the starter’s role. He was sacked three times and completed four of 16 pass attempts for 60 yards.
Jhustin Balisacan tallied 76 rushing yards on 12 carries to lead the Red Raiders, who will face Damien next week in a game that was re-scheduled after Tropical Storm Iselle cancelled all games last week.
Konawaena will open the Big Island Interscholastic Federation season on Aug. 29 against Kamehameha-Hawai`i
Kauai 0 0 0 6 – 6
Konawaena 0 0 8 6 – 14
(8:45) – KONAWAENA: Safety
(4:02) – KONAWAENA: Bubba Ellis-Noa 1 yd TD run (Cameron Howes XPT no good)
(10:37) – KONAWAENA: Shelton Grace 15 yd TD reception from Howes (Howes XPT blocked)
(0:45) – KAUAI: Christopher Martinez 1 yd fumble recovery TD (conversion failed)
Hilo 49, Waiakea 18
St. Francis 33, Kea`au 14
Waimea 26, Hawai`i Prep 21