High school football: Konawaena sets up home-and-home series with Calif. team

  • RICK WINTERS/West Hawaii Today
    Konawaena head coach Brad Uemoto will welcome Mission Viejo on Aug. 23 in Kealakekua.

Konawaena football coach Brad Uemoto isn’t backing down from the big boys.

Uemoto scheduled his Wildcats to play a home-and-home against Mission Viejo of California this fall on the Big Island and then in 2020 in California.

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Against a supremely difficult schedule, the Diablos went 6-6 in 2018, but still finished No. 26 in the MaxPreps national computer rankings. One of the losses was by forfeit to Villa Park (after a 28-13 win on the field) and the other was in the playoffs — 56-17 to eventual MaxPreps No. 1 Mater Dei.

“Not a lot of teams here would want to take that one (Mission Viejo game) on,” Uemoto said.

Last season, Konawaena came to Oahu’s North Shore to face Kahuku. It was a 61-9 loss, but it showed that the Wildcats want to continue getting better by playing the best competition they can find.

“We made contact (with Mission Viejo) and it got set,” he said.

The Mission Viejo vs. Konawaena game will be held on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. at Konawaena’s home field.

“They will stay here for a week,” Uemoto said. “Maybe we’ll do a mini luau for them and our kids, something culturally and to have fun and develop some relationships.

“I think this is similar to us scheduling Kahuku. It’s more about experience, preparing for a team like Mission Viejo, which has historically done well in high school football. It will give the kids a different feel and they’ll see the style of a national power, per se. We can get that here by playing the top teams (like Saint Louis and Kahuku), but the hard part is scheduling OIA and ILH top-tier teams. They can only play in the first (nonleague) week (first weekend in August). At that time, we are usually missing a bunch of kids who are still trying to get those required padded days in and some on academic probation. It’s just so hard to pull up a JV kid or a sophomore who is not ready for that caliber. Three weeks into August, we’ll be at full force by then with some games under our belt.”

Uemoto has not scheduled Konawaena’s 2019 nonleague games yet because the BIIF won’t have a final decision on its new format until April. Chances are high that the Wildcats (5-5 last season, including a 27-22 loss to Kamehameha in the league D-II title game) will be moving up to D-I.

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“We will try and travel to Oahu — and Kapaa has reached out,” he said. “Before we commit, we’ll wait to see what the league does. We may go to D-I.”

In August 2017, Mission Viejo visited Maui and defeated Baldwin 39-14 at War Memorial Stadium.

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