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BIIF football: ‘Riders on a roll with Hilo coming to town next

  • TIM WRIGHT/Tribune-Herald
    Kealakehe's Koarii Atkinson-Sioloa celebrates with teammate Kalani Plitz after scoring the first of two touchdowns during the first quarter of Saturday's game against Honokaa at Waverider Stadium in Kailua-Kona.

KAILUA-KONA — Kealakehe quarterback Jorden Himalaya doesn’t play favorites. If a receiver gets open, he’ll get them the ball.

Himalaya’s ability to share the pigskin was on full display during the Waveriders’ 35-14 victory on Saturday night, with the senior QB notching five touchdowns and connecting with eight different receivers in a win over visiting Honokaa.

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Waveriders wide receiver Koarii Atkinson-Sioloa ended up with the most impressive stat line of the night, going for 124 yards and three scores on five catches. Those kind of numbers are becoming somewhat commonplace in the ‘Riders much-improved, up-tempo offense.

“It seems like it’s someone new every night that steps up,” Himalaya said of his wide receiver corps. “I just believe in the plays the coaches call and try to make the right read to get it out there.”

Atkinson-Sioloa was the latest Waverider to eclipse the 100-yard mark. He more than likely won’t be the last.

Kealakehe head coach Sam Kekuaokalani says it’s by design that so many Waveriders are getting their hands on the ball. It helps keep the offense fresh and rolling.

“We have been running some new things, trying to get everyone involved,” Kekuaokalani said. “Because we are shifting to this up-tempo system, we need everyone to be on the same page and focused.”

Since the BIIF season started, Himalaya leads the league in touchdown passes (8) and is second in yards per game (317.5). Konawaena’s Sheynen Nahale is the current yardage leader, averaging 323 yards per contest.

“Jorden is able to make plays when we need them,” Kekuaokalani said. “He is poised out there when we are facing some longer-yardage downs, making things happen. He’s maturing as a quarterback and it has benefited us.”

The 2-0 start is the first for the Waveriders since 2015, with Kealakehe stumbling out of the gate the last two seasons to 0-2 starts in league play. However, it’s no time for the ‘Riders to start resting on their laurels, with five-time BIIF Division I and defending D-I state champion Hilo coming to town on Friday.

“We aren’t going to spend too much time thinking about this win,” Himalaya said after the victorious outing against Honokaa. “We know (Hilo) is coming and are ready to get to work.”

Hilo’s current run of titles matches Kealakehe’s from 2004-2008, although the last of those string of titles by the Waveriders was stripped after the school self-reported using an ineligible player during the season. Honokaa won the D-I title in 2009, but Kealakehe went on to win three more until the Viks’ most current dynasty began in 2013. The Waveriders are 1-8 against Hilo since, the lone victory coming in 2015.

The Viks are 2-0 so far during their 2018 BIIF campaign — with wins against Hawaii Prep and Honokaa — outscoring their opponents 56-0. Hilo had last week off when its game against Kamehameha was postponed due to weather issues.

“It’s been a great start for us. We have to be happy with these wins, but we know this is a different kind of week for us,” Kekuaokalani said. “We are having the guys focusing on what matters most — the team.”

That much was obvious in Kealakehe’s postgame “senior night” ceremonies, where more than 30 senior players and cheerleaders were celebrated with lei and tiny tidbits about themselves announced over the loudspeakers.

When it was over, all the players held up part of a long ti leaf lei, which was eventually be wrapped around coach Kekuaokalani and is supposed to be brought to every game the rest of the season.

“All these guys are like family,” Himalaya said. “With this team, there’s been a lot of heart, teamwork and unselfishness. It feels different.”

The Waveriders will find out just how different on Friday night. The kickoff between Kealakehe and Hilo’s JV squads is slated for 5 p.m., with the varsity game to follow.

Konawaena vs. Hawaii Prep, today at 7 p.m.

Thursday night football makes its debut on the west side of the island tonight as Ka Makani (0-2) visit the Wildcats (2-0) in Kealakekua.

Ka Makani showed some improvement against Keaau last week, taking a 10-0 lead before the Cougars scored the final 22 points of the game.

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Konawaena got off to a somewhat rocky start against Waiakea during a raucous homecoming night, but righted the ship and rode a stellar defensive performance to a 41-7 victory.

The last time Hawaii Prep won on Wildcat turf was in 2010 in a 42-0 rout.