Tuesday | January 16, 2018
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BIIF eight-man football: Pahoa senior, Ka’u freshman share top offensive honor

By its nature, eight-man football is a dream scenario for shift and fast ball-carriers who excel when playing in space.

The dynamic was exacerbated during the 2017 BIIF season thanks to two special talents, setting up a nightmarish scenario for Kohala defensive coordinator Chad Atkins, who never got a break.

First he watched Pahoa running back Keala Harris light up the Cowboys to the tune of six touchdowns and more than 500 total yards, an onslaught that left Atkins gushing.

“I think he’s the best player on the island (11-man included),” Atkins said afterward.

Then Atkins got a glimpse of Ka’u freshman Isaiah Pilanca-Emmsley, who scored three different ways in late-season romp against Kohala.

“He’s going to be the best player on the island,” Atkins said.

Harris and Pilanca-Emmsley ran up numbers that could only be rivaled by those sitting on a coach with a video game controller in hand, and they are the co-eight-man Offensive Players of the Year as selected by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald and West Hawaii Today.

“Cool,” said Harris, who was also nonchalant when talking about his and his team’s success. “Just hard work and dedication.”

It’s the defenses who felt anxiety, early and often.

With his older brother, Kaniala, carrying the load much of the past two seasons, Keala wasted little time making an impact in 2017 , combining for seven touchdowns in the Daggers’ first two games, including a breakthrough victory at Ka’u.

Harris’ tour de force came in a 46-36 win at Kohala in which he scored four different ways, surpassing a combined 400 yards on the ground an in returns, and another 100-plus in receptions.

“If we didn’t stop him in the backfield, we had no chance,” Atkins said.

After his lightning-quick start, Harris became a marked man for defenses and the workload eventually took its toll. By the end of the season, he was running on fumes and a hurt shoulder and was limited – by his lofty standards – to 130 total yards in a 38-24 loss at Ka’u that cost the Daggers their first BIIF title.

“When you have three guys on you and one is 300 pounds, it’s like, “Oh wow,” Harris said.

Trojans coach DuWayne Ke has won three titles in the four years the BIIF has sponsored the sport, and along the way he’s learned to take some secret weapons into the season.

This year, Pilanca-Emmsley fit the bill. He played only one offensive snap in his team’s opening loss against Pahoa, but then he burst onto the scene with a five-touchdown performance at Lanai in the highest-scoring Hawaii high school game on record.

He used a similar running style to that of Harris: get to the outside and don’t stop running until you’re in the end zone.

“He gives me everything,” Ke said. “Speed, quickness, smart and fast.

“He can adjust at the snap of the finger.”

Pilanca-Emmsley, who formerly played Pop Warner football with the Ka’u Lions, also rotated with Zachary Kai at quarterback and gave the run-heavy Trojans the passing threat they needed to win their last five BIIF games. He threw for two touchdowns and caught another in the title-clinching win against the Daggers.

For all of his gaudy offensive numbers, his most memorable moment came midseason when he picked off a pass against Pahoa and turned it into a 90-plus yard, go-ahead score on interception return.

Pilanca-Emmsley is the all-BIIF quarterback, along with Kai and Harris at running back, Pahoa’s Paris Hayes-Kai and Kohala’s Aukea Kaaekuahiwi at wide receiver and Ka’u’s Nainoa Ke and Josiah Barrios and Kohala’s Royce Manning on the offensive line.

“I’m surprised,” Pilanca-Emmsley said of sharing the honor. “My first year. Wow.”

Harris’s favorite moment of the season came, well, off the field. It involved a conversation with a girl after a game against Ka’u and a kiss.

“He’s a ladies’ man,” Pahoa coach Chris Midel said.

And Harris and Pilanca-Emmsley are leading men.



Isaiah Pilanca-Emmsley, Ka’u


Keala Harris, Pahoa

Zachary Kai, Ka’u


Paris Hayes-Kai, Pahoa

Aukea Kaaekuahiwi, Kohala


Nainoa Ke, Ka’u

Josiah Barrios, Ka’u

Royce Manning, Kohala


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