BIIF football: Hilo faces a sizable challenge in Kealakehe on the road

  • BRAD BALLESTEROS/Tribune-Herald Hilo High's defense has recorded consecutive shut outs, including a 24-0 win at Honokaa on Sept. 7.

The storm threat last week fizzled out, but not before it gave Hilo High a chance to get real in its preparations for Kealakehe.

The unexpected bit of time off might have come at an opportune time.

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With a hot quarterback in Jorden Himalaya tossing the ball around to an abundance of playmakers, these Waveriders may not be the bunch that the Vikings and some of their slightly older brothers were used to beating up on.

Kealakehe has looked more like your older cousin’s Waveriders, the ones that routinely bullied BIIF Division I before the Vikings took power starting in 2013.

“The film on Kealakehe shows what it has in the past, that they have size, a bunch of capable athletes and a talented quarterback,” Viks coach Kaeo Drummondo said

In a clash between 2-0 league foes who have accounted for every D-I title since 2010, Hilo and Kealakehe kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday night at Waverider Stadium, and the winner gains a big leg up on home-field advantage in the postseason.

“They present a lot of challenges to prepare for, but it’s fun to prepare for an offense like this,” Drummondo said.

Hilo was preparing to face Kamehameha on Sept. 10 on a short week when a tropical warning wiped out a day for practice and postponed the Warriors-Vikings game until October. That’s given Hilo extra time to focus on a looming strength-vs.-strength matchup pitting Kealakehe’s passing game and skill players against Hilo’s back seven.

Himalaya’s thrown eight touchdown passes in league play, averages 317.5 passing yards per and has proven capable of a tossing the ball around to as many as eight pass-catchers a game. All four of Hilo’s returning defensive starters – juniors Kalen White, Elijah Apao and Kainalu Lewis and sophomore Kahiau Walker – excel at playing in the second two levels.

“We’ll need to keep the bell in front of us and rally up and tackle well this week,” Drummondo said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how our defense responds to such an explosive offensive challenge.”

That Hilo hasn’t been as dominant as it was in 2017 – the reigning state champs routinely raced to five-touchdown leads at halftime and played to running second-half clocks – hasn’t been the fault of its defense.

The Vikings shut out Hawaii Prep and Honokaa, at times overshadowing a sluggish offense.

Drummondo said quarterback Kyan Miyasato would be available after sitting out the 24-0 win at the Dragons on Sept. 7 in which the Vikings amassed just 153 yards of offense with Kyler Aguiar at the helm. With Miyasato at the controls of the 32-0 win against Ka Makani, Aguiar accounted for more yardage than that all by himself at wide receiver, with two touchdown catches.

In the preseason, Drummondo said Hilo was at its best with Miyasato at QB spreading the ball to his capable group of pass-catchers, though he was intercepted four times by HPA.

“The expectation is the same,” Drummondo said. “Come out and execute our offense. Be smart with the football and try to get it to our playmakers and allow them to make positive plays. Be disciplined and take what is there and move on to the next play.”

Waverider Stadium used to be a house of horrors for the Vikings, but that was before Drummondo moved from West Hawaii to Hilo to begin coaching in 2012, the first three as defensive coordinator and past three-plus as head coach. The Vikings are 3-0 at Kealakehe since 2013 and 8-1 overall.

Of course, this Waveriders edition team could be different.

“I think it’ll be a fun atmosphere for a division game against a strong confident Kealakehe team,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll be pumped up for the game so we have to match their intensity early but be even-keeled and focus on alignment, assignment and fundamentals in all three phases.”

Honokaa (0-3) at Kamehameha (1-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday

Quarterback Kaimi Like has shrugged off a back injury and is slated to make his first start of the season and could give the Warriors more of a passing threat, though the focal point of the offense figures to continue to be dynamic junior Kilohana Haasenritter, who gutted the Waveriders for more than 200 yards and two scores on the ground in a 49-42 loss Sept. 7.

Just like Hilo, Kamehameha comes in after a two-week break.

“It’s been good,” coach Dan Lyons said. “We’ve been able to heal up and rest up and work on a few things.

“We’re healthy for the most part.”

An exception is sophomore quarterback Koby Tabuyo-Kahele, who started against Kealakehe but will sit this one out.

Not much has gone yet right for the Dragons, who had two nonconference games nixed in August, were surprised by Waiakea in their BIIF opener, then ran into Hilo and Kealakehe the past two weeks.

If Klayton Gascon and Honokaa’s ground game can get going, the Dragons could have a chance wear down a thin Warriors defense.

“We always want to stop the run,” Lyons said. “What we need to do is be efficient on third down and get off the field.”

Keaau (1-2) at Waiakea (2-1), 1:30 p.m.

The Cougars, fresh off their first win of the season against HPA (22-10), look to stay on track.

The Warriors, after suffering their first loss at Konawaena (41-7), try to get back on it.

One name to the game here is confidence.

First-year coach Neil Azevedo has brought it in droves at Waiakea, which was improved last week relative to recent trips to Kealakekua but was unable to sustain drives.

The Cougars showed some positive signs against Ka Makani but still committed way to many penalties for coach Leo Abellera’s liking.

Eight-man: Kohala (0-2) vs. Pahoa (1-1), 1 p.m. at Keaau

This is the first rematch of the season in either 11-man or eight man.

On Sept. 1 in Kapaau, the Daggers won 40-6, getting three touchdowns from Matthew Ortega. Josaiah Waiolama ran for a score, and William Velez and Duke Palma each hauled in scoring passes.

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Eight-man: Lanai (4-0 overall) vs. Ka’u (2-0), 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Keaau

An eight-man exhibition might not always necessarily move the dial, but consider this: last season on Lanai, Lanai beat the Trojans 90-58 in what was reported to be the highest-scoring Hawaii prep game on record, but not before Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley ripped his way for five touchdowns.

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