Kerr’s FG Lifts Waiakea to Homecoming Victory
Waiakea High School’s hard-luck homecoming history nearly repeated itself Friday night at Wong Stadium.
A 21-0 lead evaporated in just over seven minutes time, but senior kicker Tyler Kerr was able to save the day and preserve a festive homecoming night for his classmates and friends.
Kerr’s 26-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining spoiled Kealakehe’s comeback effort, giving Waiakea a 24-21 lead in a pivotal Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I football matchup.
“I think Waiakea hasn’t won a homecoming in like 20 years, and I don’t think the varsity has ever beaten Kealakehe in over 10 years, so it was a good win for us,” said Waiakea Head Coach Moku Pita.
Kerr’s field goal capped off a drive that started after Kealakehe completed a 21-point comeback with Kobe Antolin’s 31-yard touchdown run with 5:39 remaining in the game. The ensuing drive started for the Warriors at their own 38 yard line. Twelve plays, 56 yards, and five-and-a-half minutes later, Kerr’s 26-yard kick sent fans into a frenzy.
“Tyler Kerr has grown up,” Pita said during the joyous celebration. “Last year he missed every kick. This year, he’s only missed one and made the rest of them.”
Waiakea (2-5 overall, 2-3 BIIF) controlled the pace of the game, running 66 offensive plays to the Waveriders’ 41. The success of the Warriors’ ground attack was vital to the offensive dominance as Waiakea racked up 215 yards on the ground. Pono Auwae led the way with 75 yards on 17 carries, including a second quarter touchdown. Joey Ongais added 61 yards on 15 rushes and quarterback Gehrig Octavio picked up 61 yards and 15 attempts.
In the second quarter, Waiakea took advantage of short field position at Kealakehe’s 39 yard line. Methodically, the Warriors ate 5:16 off the clock on a 12-play drive, capped off by Ryder Oshiro’s one-yard touchdown burst to put Waiakea ahead 7-0 with 5:47 left in the first half.
Kealakehe (2-4, 2-3) fumbled the ball away two plays later, and Auwae cashed in on the mistake with an eight-yard touchdown run to extend the Warriors lead to 14-0 with 3:32 left in the second quarter. Auwae’s 49-yard dash earlier in the drive set the Warriors up in the Kealakehe red zone.
It appeared to be much of the same in the third quarter. On Waiakea’s second drive in the frame, another long drive gashed the Kealakehe defense. Starting at its own 24, Waiakea went 10 consecutive plays on the ground before a personal foul aided the drive inside the 10 yard line. The only passing play on the drive led to six points as sophomore Octavio found Isaiah Mahaulu for an eight-yard score, extending the lead to 21-0 with 3:40 left in the third.
Kealakehe’s offense, which gained just 87 yards in the first half, woke up suddenly. A pass interference call on the Waiakea secondary gave Kealakehe a free first down early in the drive, and the Waveriders took it the rest of the way. Junior quarterback Marcus Degrate found Louie Garcia for a 12-yard touchdown strike, cutting the lead to 21-7 with :52 remaining in the quarter.
Kealakehe’s next drive was filled with big plays. Degrate completed a 21-yard pass to Kaimi Wilson and a 25-yard strike to Kobe Antolin, who would punch it in two plays later on a touchdown run to make the score 21-14 with 10:07 remaining.
Antolin, who is primarily a defensive standout for head coach Sam Kekuaokalani, was called upon to assist the offensive in moving the football in the second half. He came through when it mattered. His second touchdown run, a 31-yard streak down the field, tied the game with 5:39 remaining.
Antolin finished the game with 43 yards rushing on six carries and 34 yards receiving on two catches.
Kealakehe wouldn’t see the ball again, however, thanks to Waiakea’s effective final drive.
Pita was especially proud of Octavio, who made his second start at a position that has not produced a lot on the field. Octavio completed six of his 11 passing attempts for 62 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“Our little quarterback stepped up today,” Pita explained. Octavio is only 5-foot-6, but moving him out of the pocket allowed him to make plays much bigger than his stature.
Degrate, a junior, got the start at quarterback for Kealakehe and showed improvement from a week prior, when he completed just one pass and his team gained just 84 yards of offense. Friday night, he went 12-for-23 with 151 yards passing with a touchdown and an interception. He also gained 39 yards on the ground.
Both teams have two games remaining on the season to fight for a home game in the Division I semifinals. Waiakea travels to Hawai`i Prep next Saturday while Kealakehe hosts Kea`au on Friday night.
Kealakehe 0 0 7 14 – 21
Waiakea 0 14 7 3 – 24
WHS (5:47) – Ryder Oshiro 1 yd run (Tyler Kerr XPT good)
WHS (3:32) – Pono Auwae 8 yd run (Kerr XPT good)
WHS (3:40) – Isaiah Mahaulu 8 yd reception from Gehrig Octavio (Kerr XPT good)
KHS (:52) – Louie Garcia 12 yd reception from Marcus Degrate (Ari Mench XPT good)
KHS (10:07) – Kobe Antolin 2 yd run (Mench XPT good)
KHS (5:39) – Antolin 31 yd run (Mench XPT good)
WHS (:08) – Kerr 26 yd field goal
Friday’s BIIF scores
Waiakea 24, Kealakehe 21
Konawaena 46, Honoka`a 13