Defense Powers Kealakehe to Win in Opener
The first non-league game of the season doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know about what your team will look like in the upcoming season.
Kealakehe, however, took a lot away from its defense, which returned two fourth quarter interceptions for touchdowns in a 28-7 home win over Maui to open up the 2015 football season.
Up 15-7 in the fourth quarter, Kealakehe’s defense turned up the heat on already hot pressure on Maui quarterback Austin Hoe. Sophomore Bryton Lewi made a spectacular interception down the right sideline midway through the fourth quarter, leaping over his teammate and a Maui defender and staying inbounds to complete the turnover.
Kealakehe (1-0 overall, 0-0 BIIF) gave it right back on its next drive. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Trevino threw an interception of his own, this time to Maui’s Mykah Bailey, who returned it to the Waveriders’ 29-yard line.
Sam Kekuaokalani said after the game that his defensive front keyed in on Hoe, bringing constant pressure throughout the second half. “We wanted to keep that pressure, because we were kinda rotating guys around. That D-line did a heck of a job, and its a lot of those guys playing both ways.”
Isaiah Filoteo picked up a sack on the ensuing play, and two plays later, senior Pulama Louis picked off a short pass in the flat and ran it back 63 yards for a key touchdown with 3:07 remaining, putting Kealakehe ahead 22-7.
“It was just all read-and-react,” Louis said. “It was just the same drills we’ve been doing every day in practice. My job was the back, read the back and react. I saw the ball and I took it.”
It was a proud moment for Louis, a senior linebacker who hasn’t seen the field since a season-ending knee injury in his sophomore season. Two surgeries followed to get Louis back to 100 percent.
“This wasn’t just an opening to the season for me. It felt good to make plays and get that pick, and I’m just looking forward to this season,” he said.
Maui (0-1, 0-0) put together a few big drives to get into Kealakehe territory on its next drive, getting inside the redzone after a 46-yard hookup from Hoe to Shaestan Torres. On the next play, Lewi stepped in front of a short pass on the opposite side of the field and ran it back 83 yards to the endzone to put the game away, giving Kealakehe a 28-7 lead with 1:39 left in the game.
For the game, the Waverider defense recorded four sacks, three interceptions, and one fumble recovery.
It wasn’t all positive for Kealakehe’s defense. Maui took the lead in the first quarter on a blown assignment from the Waverider secondary. No one covered Maui receiver Justine Dancel on the far right side of the field, and Hoe connected with him for a 68-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown, putting Maui ahead 7-0 with 3:07 remaining in the first half.
Senior running back Kobe Antolin was the workhorse for Kealakehe’s offense. Whether it was getting tough yardage or finding seams into the next level of the defense, Antolin was a reliable option out of the backfield. On the ensuing possesion, he waltzed in to the endzone for a two-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:07 left in the second quarter.
In the third, Kealakehe took advantage of a botched snap by Maui on a fourth down punt attempt, giving the Waveriders the football at Maui’s 16 yard line. Five plays later, Antolin pushed his way across the goal line for a one-yard score. His two-point conversion reception on a broken play gave Kealakehe a 15-7 lead wih 15 seconds left in the period.
For the game, Antolin ran for 57 yards on 13 carries. He also caught three passes for 30 yards.
At quarterback, senior Markus Degrate split time with Trevino. Neither lit up the stat sheet. Degrate completed four of his 11 first half passes for 17 yards, while Trevino completed five of his 11 attempts for 42 yards.
“The plan originally was to give them both equal reps,” Kekuaokalani said. “I’ve been kinda spending a little bit more time with Trevino, just trying to mold him a little bit. I will use both of them as needed.”
Hoe completed 20 of his 36 pass attempts for 236 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions for Maui. Backup running back McNel Guillermo led the Sabers with 43 yards on the ground on just seven carries. Torres was the leading target for Hoe, hauling in nine passes for 98 yards.
Kealakehe flies to Oahu next Saturday to take on Division II state champion Iolani, who now competes in Division I in the Interscholastic League of Honolulu. Maui, meanwhile, opens up Maui Interscholastic League play on Thursday, Aug. 20 against King Kekaulike.
Maui 7 0 0 0 – 7
Kealakehe 0 7 8 13 – 28
MAUI (3:07) – Justine Dancel 68-yd TD reception from Austin Hoe (Chevee Freitas kick)
KEALAKEHE (11:07) – Kobe Antolin 2-yd TD run (Gabriel Bala kick)
KEALAKEHE (0:15) – Antolin 1-yd TD run (Degrate pass to Antolin)
KEALAKEHE (3:07) – Pulama Louis 63-yd INT return for TD (Bala kick)
KEALAKEHE (1:39) – Bryton Lewi 83-yd INT return for TD (Bala kick failed)
Big Island football scores
Kealakehe 28, Maui 7
Lahainaluna 65, Kea’au 6
Moanalua 62, Waiakea 7
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 21, Kalaheo 6
Waialua 32, Honoka’a 14