Kealakehe Pulls Away from Waiakea
In honor of Saturday’s Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Kealakehe High School’s football team showed that just like in a major triathlon, it is not always about how you start in a football game, but how you finish.
At the end of Friday night’s Big Island Interscholastic Federation regular season finale, Kealakehe showed that it was the tougher team, both physically and emotionally, in a 43-16 win over Waiakea.
The turning point of the game came courtesy of the Kealakehe defense, the unit that many people consider the heart and soul of the Waveriders. Waiakea quarterback Gehrig Octavio faced pressure from two defenders and was called for intentional grounding in the end zone, which gave the Waveriders a 22-10 lead with 9:09 remaining in the third quarter.
Riggs Kurashige returned the ensuing free kick to the Waiakea 14 yard line, and three plays later, Mason Kaawa-Loa sprinted into the end zone from 10 yards away for his second touchdown run of the game, extending the lead to 29-10.
In the same time frame, an incident took place on the Waiakea sideline involving a coach and a parent. A player was also involved and left the field after the incident.
Waiakea (2-8 overall, 2-5 Big Island Interscholastic Federation) tried to recover with backup quarterback Makoa Andres, but the junior quarterback threw two third quarter interceptions, including a pick-six to Bryton Lewi that put the game out of reach late in the third quarter.
The events of the third quarter overshadowed what was an even first half between the two teams. Kealakehe opened the scoring with Akoni Demello’s touchdown run from four yards away in the game’s first three minutes, but Waiakea put together two solid drives of its own. Its first drive was stopped on a fourth-and-one at the Waveriders’ five-yard-line. The next drive got down near the same spot, but ended with a 23-yard Octavio field goal to open the second quarter, cutting Kealakehe’s lead to 7-3.
An 81-yard return on the ensuing kickoff from Kurashige set up the Waveriders for an 11-yard touchdown run from Kaawa-Loa on the next play. Waiakea stuck quickly on its next possession as Octavio found Cody Cuba behind the defense for a 49-yard touchdown reception, making the score 13-10 with 7:27 remaining in the half.
Octavio finished with 100 yards on 5-for-11 passing. Cuba was his top target, hauling in four passes for 96 yards.
Kealakehe (7-3, 5-2) was carried by its ground attack, which picked up 180 yards of its 252 total offensive production. Kobe Antolin led the way, carrying the ball 17 times for 102 yards. Quarterback Markus Degrate played a small part in the ground game’s success, picking up a key touchdown run at the end of the first half to put Kealakehe up 20-10.
Through the air, Degrate completed passes to six different receivers. He finished 8-for-17 for 72 yards and an interception, along with a fourth quarter touchdown pass to fellow senior Elijah Brouwer.
Friday night’s outcome didn’t change the seeding in the Division I postseason race. Waiakea, seeded third, will visit Hilo at Wong Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. The second-seeded Vikings own a 35-0 win over the Warriors earlier this year. The game will be aired on ESPN Radio and KBIG FM.
Meanwhile, top-seeded Kealakehe already earned home-field advantage in the postseason, no matter what had happened in the game. The Waveriders will host last place Kea’au on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Kealakehe pulled away to a 28-8 victory several weeks ago on the Cougars’ home field. The game will air on ESPN Radio.
Waiakea 0 10 0 6 – 16
Kealakehe 7 13 16 7 – 43
KEAL (9:51) – Akoni Demello 4 yard run (Kolby Martin kick)
WAI (11:55) – Gehrig Octavio 23 yard field goal
KEAL (11:35) – Mason Kaawa-Loa 11 yard run (run failed)
WAI (7:27) – Cody Cuba 49 yard reception from Octavio (Octavio kick)
KEAL (:47) – Markus Degrate 3 yard run (Martin kick)
KEAL (9:09) – Safety
KEAL (7:45) – Kaawa-Loa 10 yard run (Martin kick)
KEAL (2:21) – Bryton Lewi 10 yard interception return (Martin kick)
WAI (10:23) – Tevis Holi 4 yard run (pass failed)
KEA (3:45) – Elijah Boruwer 8 yard reception from Degrate (Martin kick)
BIIF football scoreboard
Konawaena 50, Honoka’a 6
Kealakehe 43, Honoka’a 16