Konawaena Dominates in West Hawai’i Gridiron Battle
Size doesn’t always win football games.
Just ask the Konawaena Wildcats, who were outnumbered and undersized, yet dominated both sides of the football in a 20-0 victory over Kealakehe Friday night at Julian R. Yates Field.
“We’re about 162 (pounds) across and they’ve got to be knocking on 280, somewhere up there,” said Konawaena Head Coach Cliff Walters. “We gave up so much size that we had to do something different because I didn’t want to have any of our guys run over.”
That different look came at the start of the second half. Holding a 7-0 lead, Konawaena’s Cameron Howes bounced an onside kick toward the right side of the field. Kealakehe had several chances to field the ball but allowed it to keep bouncing toward the sideline. The Wildcats recovered the football just as it crossed midfield.
The offense, led to start the second half by Howes at quarterback, opened up in a jumbo package with three running backs and a tightly packed offensive line. It was a much different look than the normal spread formation Konawaena employs, but it worked perfectly. The Wildcats put together a seven-play, 50-yard drive that relied exclusively on the power running game. Howes finished the drive with a two-yard scoring run through the middle of the Kealakehe defense to put his team up 14-0 with 9:35 remaining in the third period.
Two plays later, Kealakehe quarterback Markus Degrate was hit as he attempted to throw the football downfield. The pigskin ended up in the hands of Tate “Baba” Hing, and Konawaena marched off another detailed and methodical scoring drive.
This time, the seven-play, 60-yard drive was capped off by a big play, a 41-yard run on fourth-and-two by Algene Kelekolio to advance the Wildcats’ lead to 20-0 with 6:35 remaining in the game.
Konawaena (6-2 overall, 5-2 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) truly won the game in the third quarter. The Wildcats controlled the football for all but 47 seconds in the entire period, thanks to three long scoring drives, two started by onside kick recoveries. Kealakehe ran just two offensive plays in the period to the Wildcats’ 22.
Kealakehe (3-5, 3-4) was mired in offensive futility for most of the game. It took just over a quarter for the Waveriders to pick up a first down, the only first down they had for three quarters of the game. It came when Degrate found Kaimi Wilson on a slant for a 14-yard completion early in the second quarter.
Kealakehe was stuck in negative offensive numbers going into the fourth quarter until Wilson replaced Degrate and completed a few deep passes. The Waveriders finished with a total of 26 offensive yards. They had negative -49 yards on the ground, a complete reverse of the team’s success in the last two games.
Konawaena, however, churned out 209 yards rushing, taking a burden off of quarterback Shelton Grace, who returned to start Friday after missing two games with a left shoulder injury.
Grace was 13-of-25 passing for 92 yards on the night.
Junior running back Algene Kelekolio led the Wildcats with 100 yards rushing on 17 carries. Senior Bubba Ellis-Noa added 87 yards on 13 rushes, and Tate “Baba” Hing picked up 20 yards rushing on six carries, including a second-quarter three-yard touchdown run to open the scoring.
“On the West Side, it’s always about bragging rights,” Walters said. “These kids, 40 years down the road, they’ll be talking to one of their buddies from Kealakehe and they will go ‘remember my senior year when we beat you guys?’ It’s kind of a fun thing. These kids all play together in Pop Warner.”
With the win, Konawaena clinched home field for next week’s BIIF Division II semifinals. The Wildcats will receive the top seed only if Kamehameha-Hawai’i loses Saturday to Kea’au. If the Warriors win, Konawaena will finish second and will host the winner of Saturday’s game between Hawai’i Preparatory Academy and Honoka’a.
The semifinal game will be played on Saturday, Oct. 18. The time has not been determined by the league.
Kealakehe, meanwhile, held on to the second-seed in Division I. That was because Hilo defeated Waiakea 45-3. The Waveriders will host Waiakea next Saturday in the Division I semifinals. Game time has not yet been announced.
Kealakehe 0 0 0 0 – 0
Konawaena 0 7 13 0 – 20
KONA (11:09) – Tate Hing 3 yard run (Cameron Howes XPT good)
KONA (9:35) – Howes 2 yard run (Howes XPT good)
KONA (6:35) – Algene Kelekolio (pass failed)
Hilo 45, Waiakea 3
Konawaena 20, Kealakehe 0