Kealakehe Rides Momentum Wave to Comeback Win
Kealakehe doesn’t want to be known as a second half football team, but in the last two weeks, the Waveriders have made their most noise in the final 24 minutes of each game.
Last Saturday, Kealakehe nearly erased a 19-point deficit, but fell to Canadian opponent Vincent Massey. On Friday night, the deficit was bigger. A 20-point first quarter by Kamehameha-Hawai’i put the Waveriders in a deep hole early, but a tough defense turned the momentum and carried the home team to a 22-20 comeback win.
“It’s the heart of the team,” said Kealakehe offensive coordinator Jerry Mareko. “Once they see the defense putting up a fight, once we get rolling on the good side, it’s a snowball effect and it gets bigger and bigger and we start rolling with it.”
A safety put Kealakehe on the board in the second quarter when Kamehameha-Hawai’i backup quarterback Kamakana Pagan was hit from behind, knocking the ball free. The Warriors recovered the fumble in the endzone and couldn’t get out, putting two points on the board.
In the third, Kealakehe’s defense dialed up its ferocity. Klein Hao picked off a pass from Kamehameha-Hawai’i quarterback Dallas Duarte, and on the very next play, Riggs Kurashige rumbled 56 yards down the field for a Waverider touchdown. Colby Martin’s extra point cut the Warriors’ lead to 20-9.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i (3-1 overall, 0-1 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) took a big hit on offense later in the quarter when leading rusher Kaeo Batacan went out of the game with a right foot injury. That stymied their ground attack for the remainder of the game.
Batacan finished with a season-low 46 yards on 15 carries before leaving the game.
The Warriors turned the ball over three times in the third quarter. The last, a fumble by Batacan’s backup, Abishai Campbell, was recovered by Howard Cosare and returned to the Warriors’ 16-yard line.
“The coaches told us not to give up, not to put our heads down, and just put the mistakes on the side,” said Cosare after the game about the change in mindset at halftime. “It’s a new half. It’s a new game. Just play.”
Five plays later, Kurashige plunged into the endzone for a one-yard score, slicing the deficit to four points at 20-16 with 11:18 remaining in the game.
Kurashige, a senior running back, was the game’s leading rusher, accumulating 118 yards on 18 carries.
For the game, Kealakehe forced four turnovers, all in the second half.
“I think they did great,” said Kealakehe head coach Sam Kekuaokalani. “I think they were able to get the ball back for us so that we could score. ”
A key gamble did not pay off for Kamehameha-Hawai’i. The Warriors attempted a fake punt from its own 22 yard line late in the fourth quarter. Punter Iokua Manuia ran to the right and had space, but was three yards shy of gaining the first down, giving the Waveriders prime field position at their opponent’s 31-yard line.
Kealakehe (2-2, 1-0) kept driving away at Kamehameha, eventually leading to sophomore Anthony Trevino’s one-yard dive, pushing the ball over the goal line to give Kealakehe the 22-20 lead with 2:03 left.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i turned the ball over after a 38-yard kickoff return from Israel Bowden brought the ball to the Kealakahe 49-yard line, and the Waveriders ran out the clock to celebrate the victory.
“This is big. Real big,” Kekuaokalani said of the importance of the victory.
The win was the first under Trevino, who won the starting job over Markus Degrate just two days before the game, largely based on a strong fourth quarter effort against Vincent Massey. In his first start, he struggled to gain any traction through the air, completing just five of his 19 passing attempts for 39 yards. He also ran for 30 yards on 10 carries.
The game’s finish was night-and-day with with how it started. After punting on its first drive, Kamehameha-Hawai’i moved the ball at ease against the Kealakehe defense. Bryton Lewi fumbled the punt return, and the Warriors regained possession at the Waveriders’ 38 yard line. Three plays later, Duarte lobbed a ball down the right sideline to Tre Evans-Dumaran, who turned his body, caught the pass, and turned back toward the goal line to put the Warriors on the board.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i methodically drove the ball down the field on its next drive, but met a wall at the one yard line, failing to score on three consecutive plays near the goal line. On fourth down, however, Pagan entered the game and dove to his left across the goal line to extend the lead to 140 with 4:11 left in the first quarter.
Duarte re-entered the game on the next drive and hooked up with Evans-Dumaran again, this time for a 40-yard touchdown. Evans-Dumaran high-stepped his way in for the final five yards, nearly getting tackled before reaching the end zone. Jaisten Cabatbat’s extra point try was blocked, and the Warriors pulled out to a 20-0 led with three seconds left in the first quarter.
Duarte had a strong game despite the third quarter interception. He was 18-for-32 through the air for 253 yards and two touchowns. His top target, Evans-Dumaran, caught six passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns.
Lightning strike knocks out scoreboard
Friday night’s junior varsity and varsity contests at Waverider Stadium were played without a working scoreboard.
According to Kealakehe officials, a lightning strike knocked out the scoreboard on Monday. The school’s bell and fire alarm system were also struck on the same day.
During the varsity game, the clock was kept on the field by an official. The amount of time left in the game was generally relayed up to the press box during the game.
The varsity contest started at almost 8:30 p.m. That’s because the junior varsity game took three hours to complete. Additionally, the JV contest played with a 12-minute clock in each quarter instead of the normal 10-minute quarters. The mistake wasn’t caught until midway through the final period.
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 20 0 0 0 – 20
Kealakehe 0 2 7 13 – 22
BIIF football scoreboard
Konawaena 57, Waiakea 17
Kealakehe 22, Kamehameha-Hawai’i 20