Konawaena Dominates in DII Championship
Scoring wasn’t a problem for the Konawaena Wildcats with the league championship up for grabs.
After being shut out 24-0 by Kamehameha-Hawai’i on Sept. 25, Konawaena turned the tables on its home field, putting together a dominant offensive performance in a 44-21 victory over the Warriors to claim the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II championship.
“It’s amazing,” said Konawaena’s first year head coach Brad Uemoto. “My coaching staff did an incredible job all season. And these kids, from where we started to where we are now, they just performed unbelievably.”
In the regular season meeting, Konawaena was without starting quarterback Austin Ewing due to a head injury. Ewing was back and confident in the pocket, eluding multiple Kamehameha-Hawai’i defenders and making tough throws down the field.
“We’ve talked about intangibles all year. We’ve worked on him staying in the pocket a little bit more and getting rid of the ball a little bit faster. It doesn’t matter what he’s up against. He’s just going to get out there,” said Uemoto in praise of his sophomore quarterback. “He anticipated a lot of throws. Sometimes, he threw them open rather than seeing him open, and that’s what we teach. Kudos to him. That was a great effort.”
Ewing showed off his awareness in the team’s second drive, getting the ball at Kamehameha-Hawai’i’s six-yard line after a bad snap led to a fumble, which was recovered by Trey Basque. Three plays later, Ewing rolled out of the pocket to his right, evading one pass rusher. He then stepped up to avoid another and flicked the ball toward the back right corner of the end zone, finding Kamakana Ching for a three-yard touchdown to put Konawaena up 7-0 with 6:40 left in the opening quarter.
Ewing added to his numbers with a key third-and-28 conversion early in the third quarter. The sophomore fired a pass over the middle to Cameron Howes, who ran it 68 yards to the end zone to extend the Konawaena lead to 28-7 with 10:56 left in the third quarter. It was their second touchdown hookup of the game.
For the night, Ewing finished 21-of-43 passing for 291 yards with three touchdowns and two second half interceptions. He also rushed for 27 yards on five carries.
The key play came later in the third quarter from Konawaena’s defense. After Howes’ 45-yard punt pinned Kamehameha-Hawai’i down to its own five-yard line, sophomore linebacker Michael Banagan-Brock came after quarterback Dallas Duarte and sacked him in the middle of the end zone for a safety, extending the lead to 30-7 with under five minutes to play.
“It was just an all-out blitz,” Banagan-Brock explained. “I wasn’t really sure if I was going to get through, and I just got it.”
It was a big spot for Banagan-Brock to be in, getting a start in the championship game. He didn’t see a lot of playing time earlier in the season, but earned the opportunity to see extended playing time.
“I was pretty nervous coming into this,” said Banagan-Brock. “Once I got the first hit, I was good.”
“We brought him up from the JV and we knew he had some ability to come up and give us some minutes. We were a little concerned about him just not having the experience, but he’s not fazed by anything,” said Uemoto.
Konawaena’s defense effectively shut down Kamehameha-Hawai’i running back Kaeo Batacan, who ran for 100 yards on 40 carries in their last meeting. On Friday night, he totaled just 66 yards on 18 carries.
“Our defense played great tonight,” Uemoto said. “We did an incredible job on Batacan tonight, and that was a big big goal for us.”
Kamehameha-Hawai’i (9-3 overall, 6-3 BIIF) didn’t give in easily. Bayley Manliguis picked off a pass from Ewing early in the fourth quarter and returned it 74 yards to the Konawaena one-yard line. Two plays later, freshman quarterback Kaimialoha Like found Makana Manoa for a 15-yard touchdown to cut the lead down to 37-15.
Later, following a fumble by Mahina Ellis-Noa, Like hooked up with Manliguis for a 19 yard touchdown to creep closer, but seven straight incomplete passes by Like toward the end of the game terminated Kamehameha-Hawai’i’s comeback chances.
The game was called by officials with 33 seconds left after they couldn’t control the non-stop verbal confrontations that were taking place between the two teams towards the end of the game. An unidentified Kamehameha-Hawai’i coach was also ejected from the game in the final two minutes.
Konawaena (10-1, 8-1) will advance to the First Hawaiian Bank/Hawai’i High School Athletic Association Division II State Football Championships. According to Athletic Director Bill Trumbo, the Wildcats will host a yet-to-be determined opponent on Saturday, Nov. 7 at Julian R. Yates Field in Kealakekua.
Konawaena 13 8 9 14 – 44
Kamehameha-Hawai’i 0 7 0 14 – 21
KONA (6:40) – Kamakana Ching 3 yard reception from Austin Ewing (Harry Hill kick)
KONA (:20) – Algene Kelekolio 4 yard run (kick blocked)
KSH (7:55) – Kainalu Whitney 30 yard reception from Dallas Duarte (Jaisten Cabatbat kick)
KONA (2:01) – Cameron Howes 3 yard reception from Austin Ewing (Dalon Freitas run)
KONA (10:56) – Howes 68 yard reception from Ewing (Hill kick)
KONA (4:55) – Safety (sack by Michael Banagan-Brock)
KSH (9:48) – Makana Manoa 15 yard reception from Kaimialoha Like (Like to Manoa pass)
KONA (5:26) – Kelekolio 5 yard run (Hill kick)
KSH (3:42) – Bayley Manliguis 19 yard reception from Like (kick failed)
KONA (1:14) – Mahina Ellis-Noa 27 yard run (Hill kick)