Editor’s note: This story has been modified to recast and add quotes.
KEAAU – Kamehameha football coach Dan Lyons poked into the school’s training room and locker room late Friday night looking for Kaimi Like, coming away somewhat surprised the once-injured quarterback had already departed.
“I guess the back is all good,” Lyons said.
Actually, Like said, his back felt great.
And if the senior’s first game since returning is any indication – Like fired three touchdown passes and ran for another as the Warriors overwhelmed mistake-prone Honokaa 42-7 – the Warriors may be ready to roll with a multifaceted offense for their BIIF Division II playoff push.
“What I feel like I bring to the offense is to be able to spread the ball out to our players and let them do what they do,” Like said, “and as a senior I need to lead my team and be accountable when they need me most.”
In that regard, Oct. 6 and a trip to face three-time defensing BIIF D-II champion Konawaena can be circled on the calendar. The Warriors (2-1) travel to face Hawaii Prep next, and they hit the road with one game of offensive balance under their belt.
Like went 12 for 18 for 182 yards, including two touchdown passes to Noah Carvalho and a third to Kolten Kaaihue before the Warriors put it on cruise control in the second half. Bryce Furuli was back as well after a one-game absence to add some boom to the running game, gaining 82 yards with a touchdown.
Like hurt his back in February and called his recovery long and hard, thanking his team, coaches and family for their support.
“First of all, it’s nice, his senior year, to get him back on the field, that’s the really big deal for him,” Lyons said. “He got himself in good enough shape where he could get back on the field.”
In its previous game two weeks ago, the Warriors relied on running back Kilohana Haasenritter and his 200-plus yards to carry much of the offensive weight in a 49-42 loss to Kealakehe.
Haasenritter didn’t have to do it all this time.
“The group we have is a special one,” Like said, “and what we did (Friday night) was just a glimpse of what we can be in the future.”
Tight end/linebacker Kalama Anahu caught everything in sight, making six catches on offense along with two interceptions.
“We think he’s a mismatch,” Lyons said. “If you can run the ball, you can run play-action to a tight end and it’s pretty difficult to defend. “You’re putting a linebacker in conflict.”
Time and again, Lyons called a run-pass option, requiring Like to read the linebacker and either hand off or dump the ball to Anahu.
“The chemistry and connection me and Kalama have is a unique one,” Like said. “We’re great friends on and off the field. I know where he’s going to be, and I can trust him to go get the ball.”
In falling to 0-4, the Dragons were held to 137 yards with four turnovers, three of which Kamehameha turned into touchdowns, and the Warriors also capitalized on an errant punt snap.
Honokaa engineered one good drive in the first quarter, keeping the ball on the ground.
Quarterback Malu Kanekoa gained 8 and 11 yards, then Klayton Gascon’s broke through for 38 to get the ball to the 1. On the next play, Kanekoa punched the ball into the end zone to tie the score 7-7.
But the Warriors marched down the field on their next drive, and the Dragons turned the ball over on their next possessions as Kamehameha reeled off a 28-point second quarter.
After catching his first touchdown pass, Carvalho gathered an interception near midfield. Like and Anahu connected on two passes before Like scored on a short dive.
“He played a really good game, a lot of good reads, even though at times I wasn’t happy with the reads that he made, they were right based on how we do things,” Lyons said.
One the Dragons’ next play from scrimmage, Luke Kaniho returned a fumble to the 7, and three plays later Furuli powered in from the 1.
Anahu’s first interception gave Kamehameha the ball in Dragons’s territory again, and on third-and-long, Haasenritter took a screen pass to the 10, where Like found Kaaihue on the next play in the left corner of the end zone for a 35-7 lead.
The opening sequence of the game was an omen of things to come.
Kamehameha forced a three-and-out, and an airmailed punt snap set the Warriors up at the 7, where Haasenritter did the honors with a run around the left side.
It looked like it might be all him, all the time again, but with Like back the Warriors were balanced on this night.
“I wouldn’t be able to do (it) without my line protecting me and my wide receivers making me look good,” Like said.
Honokaa 7 0 0 0 – 7
KS-Hawaii 7 28 7 7 0– 42
KS-Hawaii: Kilohana Haasenritter 8 run (Christopher Knell kick)
Honokaa: Malu Kanekoa 1 run (Yo Bostwick kick)
KS-Hawaii: Noah Carvalho 5 pass from Kaimi Like (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii: Like 1 run (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii: Bruce Furuli 1 run (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii: Kolten Kaaihue 10 pass from Like (Knell kick)
KS-Hawaii: Carvalho 32 pass from Like (Knell kick)