Vikings Win Defensive Struggle Over Kealakehe
Hilo High School’s calling card this season has been its high powered offense, led by last year’s BIIF Division I Co-Offensive Player of the Year Tristin Spikes.
By the time Saturday night’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation football game against Kealakehe ended, it was Hilo’s defense that was getting all of the attention.
Hilo’s offense was shut out, but linebacker Ofa Fahiua recovered a fumble and returned it 10 yards for a touchdown just 10 seconds into the game. It was the only score of the game, as the Vikings shut out Kealakehe 7-0 on a muggy night in Kona’s Waverider Stadium.
On the first play from scrimmage, Kealakehe’s Ini Paio had the ball knocked out of his hands, and Fahiua, running in from his position, picked the ball up out of the air and ran into the end zone untouched. Rayce Takayesu kicked the extra point through to give Hilo the 7-0 lead with 11:50 left in the first quarter.
Hilo (5-0 overall, 4-0 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) was carried by its defense, which forced six Kealakehe turnovers and held the Waveriders, a team that heavily keeps the ball on the ground, to just 63 yards rushing and 97 yards of total offense.
Kealakehe’s defense, despite the loss, did something no other team has done this season. The Waveriders held the Vikings’ offense off of the scoreboard the entire game and kept Spikes to just 25 yards on 16 carries. Two of Spikes’ runs were negated by hurdling penalties, including a 13-yard gain in the fourth quarter that gave Kealakehe’s offense one more chance to score.
“The defense was awesome,” said Kealakehe head coach Sam Kekuaokalani. “We prepared really well. Kudos to Steve (Cox), our defensive coordinator. A lot of his preparation was a contributing factor. Of course, the boys, we did our best to prepare and they executed.”
Hilo had opportunities to score. Late in the second quarter, the Vikings stalled on a drive that ended on an incomplete pass on fourth down at Kealakehe’s 31-yard line.
In the third quarter, Sione Atuekaho found Shelton Lerma for a 50-yard completion to Kealakehe’s one-yard line. The Waveriders stopped Hilo on three consecutive plays, however, and Takayesu missed a 20-yard field goal off of the right upright with 7:59 left in the quarter.
Kealakehe (2-3, 2-2) struggled for most of the game to get any offense going. By halftime, the Waveriders had just 24 yards accrued, with a loss of four yards on the ground. Early in the third, however, Kekuaokalani decided to go from a spread-formation offense to a mixture of I-formation, jumbo, and full house sets. He also went to junior Marcus Degrate at quarterback and moved starter Kaimi Wilson to tight end.
“We made some adjustments,” Kekuaokalani said after the game. “We were able to make those adjustments like we practiced. …”it was a collaborative effort between players and coaches, really.”
The offensive adjustments allowed junior Riggs Kurashige to step into the spotlight. Kurashige took the bulk of the carries with the new offensive formation, picking up 18 rushes for a game-high 57 yards.
Kurashige backed up Ini Paio, who started the game because of an injury to starting running back Tuitahi Faleofa-Taumoefolau. Faleofa-Taumoefolau suffered a concussion during last week’s game at Kamehameha-Hawai`i.
It took a few drives, but the Waveriders started to find a groove against Hilo’s defense. Starting at its own 18-yard line with 1:45 remaining in the third, Kealakehe slowly marched down the field for a 17-play drive that took seven minutes and 44 seconds off of the clock. The drive didn’t net any points, however, as Marcus Degrate’s pass in the short left corner of the end zone was dropped by Kobe Antolin on fourth down from Hilo’s six-yard line.
Kealakehe had one more chance to tie the game with the ball at its own 47-yard line with 1:57 remaining. On a first down play-action call, Degrate’s pass down the right side of the field was thrown into double coverage and intercepted by Donovan Kelley. Hilo ran out the clock to end the game.
Hilo quarterback Sione Atuekaho completed just seven of his 22 passing attempts for 104 yards. On the opposite end, Kealakehe’s Wilson went 7-for-16 for 28 yards and two first half interceptions. Degrate wasn’t much better, completing just one pass in seven tries for six yards.
Hilo will visit Kea`au next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. Kealakehe will also be on the road next week, visiting Waiakea at Wong Stadium on Friday night. The latter will be broadcast at ESPNHawaii.com
Hilo 7 0 0 0 – 7
Kealakehe 0 0 0 0 – 0
HILO (11:50) – Ofa Fahiua 10 yard fumble recovery (Rayce Takayesu XPT good)
Saturday’s BIIF scores
Honoka`a 45, Kea`au 18
Hilo 7, Kealakehe 0