KS-Hawai’i Hands Konawaena First Loss of Season
Kamehameha-Hawai’i head coach Dan Lyons likes to preach life lessons to his players. This week’s lesson was about continuing to “grind,” pushing and persevering to get to a desired goal.
On Friday night, every facet of Lyons’ Warriors embodied that attitude against Konawaena, a talented football team that found ways to move the football. Kamehameha-Hawai’i made every key stop and maintained its patience in its running game to earn a 24-0 victory the Wildcats, the first blemish on Konawaena’s previously perfect record.
“We talked about learning to be a team that can grind” said Lyons. “That was the gameplan, no matter what the weather was like. We’re missing a whole bunch of guys. We have a freshman at backup quarterback and we had two receivers out, but we just kept grinding, grinding, grinding.”
Konawaena (6-1 overall, 4-1 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) was also shorthanded, playing without two key members of its offense. Sophomore starting quarterback Austin Ewing was not cleared to play after suffering a head injury in last week’s game at Kealakehe, and starting center Zachary Kaiwi missed another game with a back injury.
Those injuries didn’t seem to hamper Konawaena early on. The Wildcats didn’t give up a first down on defense in the first quarter, and the offense mustered 116 yards in that same time period, backed by 38 yards on the ground by senior running back Algene Kelekolio.
Kelekolio’s fumble inside Konawaena’s 20 yard line negated the Wildcats’ strong start. Bayley-Allen Manliguis picked up the loose ball and returned it to Kamehameha-Hawai’i’s five yard line. On the very next play, Kaeo Batacan put the Warriors on the scoreboard with a five-yard touchdown run, giving Kamehameha-Hawai’i the early lead with 4:23 left in the opening quarter.
Konawaena’s five turnovers were a deciding factor in the game, and Kamehameha-Hawai’i made sure to take advantage of them. David Kalili picked off a pass in the end zone from Konawaena quarterback Tristan Fleming-Nazara, ending an 11-play drive that had worked deep into its opponent’s territory. It sparked a nine-play, 81-yard drive, capped off by Manliguis’ 30-yard touchdown reception from Dallas Duarte to extend the lead to 14-0 before halftime.
“They turned the ball over a bunch of times, but I didn’t see any of those turnovers that were not created by us,” Lyons explained.
Fleming-Nazara would be picked off again by linebacker Lukela Chin on a deflected pass. That led to a 21-yard field goal by Jaisten Cabatbat that extended the lead to 17-0 with 4:37 remaining in the third period.
While the Wildcats struggled to hold on to the football, Kamehameha-Hawai’i begin to gain momentum on the ground against Konawaena’s defense, which had held firm throughout the game in limiting Batacan’s progress on the wet Pai’ea Stadium turf. Batacan carried the ball 24 times in the second half alone and 40 times in the game, finishing with 100 yards on the ground. It negated the passing game, which didn’t have a completion in the second half.
Sophomore Kailikea Kekuawela had two interceptions in the game for Kamehameha-Hawai’i. His last one came early in the fourth quarter, setting up Batacan’s final touchdown run, a five-yard score to extend the Warriors’ lead to 24-0 with 5:31 left.
Konawaena also was hurt by missed opportunities. The WIldcats were in their opponent’s territory five times and came away with no points, with three of those drives ending by falling short of gaining a first down.
It was a tough night for Fleming-Nazara, who threw two touchdowns in relief of Ewing last week. He was 9-for-27 passing for 84 yards and four interceptions. Kelekolio added 79 yards rushing on 16 carries.
Duarte, Kamehameha-Hawai’i’s sophomore signal-caller, minimized mistakes, completing seven of his 14 passing attempts for 67 yards.
“I know everybody was counting on Kona blowing us out today, and I think for today, there was a dominant team, and it was us,” Lyons said confidently.
With Konawaena’s loss, Kapa’a High School on Kauai is the only unbeaten team left in the state. The Warriors are 5-0 and haven’t allowed a touchdown since Aug. 15 against Lahainaluna.
Konawaena 0 0 0 0 – 0
Kamehameha-Hawai’i – 7 7 3 7 – 24
KSH (4:23) – Kaeo Batacan 5 yard run (Jaisten Cabatbat kick)
KSH (1:30) – Bayley-Allen Manliguis 30 yard reception from Dallas Duarte (Cabatbat kick)
KSH (4:37) – Cabatbat 21 yard field goal
KSH (5:31) – Batacan 5 yard run (Cabatbat kick)
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 24, Konawaena 0
Hilo 35, Waiakea 0