It was big vs. small.
Old vs. young.
Fresh vs. tired.
Actually, all things considered, “It wasn’t that bad,” Kohala football coach Chad Atkins said.
The Cowboys returned to the 11-man game for the first time 2012 with a trip to Oahu that culminated in a 35-0 loss to Kalani on Saturday night.
Everyone played for Kohala, which, coming off a winless season, dressed 27 players, roughly half of them freshman, with just five seniors. The Falcons, an OIA team that went 3-7 in 2018, returned 22 seniors.
“We needed the reps,” Atkins told Tribune News Service. “We’re coming from 8-man to 11-man, so might as well feed them to the tigers.”
Overmatched along the line, the offense got devoured.
“They were like 280 (pounds) and we were,” a lot loss, Atkins said.
“There were so many drops, it was unbelievable,” he said, “because they were getting open.”
Ryan Juan Kealoha was 6 for 16 at quarterback with an interception, throwing for negative yardage. Kona Ledward was 2 for 7 with a pick.
The defense hung in — Kalani scored defensively on a pick-six and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown — and had it’s moments.
After falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, senior linebacker Zyan Caravalho recorded a sack on back-to-back plays and another senior, Justus Ventura, made two fourth-down stops in the second quarter as the Cowboys held Kalani scoreless over the final 13 minutes of the first half.
Freshman Tamatase Sauta had a fourth-down sack to stop a drive and receiver Zak Javillonar won a jump ball for a 19-yard reception to help Kohala drive inside the Kalani 30 before intermission.
“We played every player that we brought up here,” Atkins told Tribune News Service. “I didn’t bring them up here to sit on the bench, I brought them up there so they can learn that, ‘Hey, this is what I’ve got to work on.’ We go back home and we have work to do.”
There is time to get it done.
The Cowboys have a contest this weekend against Konawaena’s junior varsity team before opening the BIIF Division II season Aug. 31 at Hawaii Prep.
Just getting to Oahu was a win of sorts for the program.
The Cowboys arrived Tuesday, attending practices at Kaiser and Castle and sandwiching in a visit to see Hawaii coach Nick Rolovich and how a college team prepares.
“Wake them up at 5 a.m., hit the field by 6:30 a.m.,” Atkins said.
Atkins, a second-year head coach and an assistant prior to that, couldn’t remember the last time the program made such a trip dating back to 1997, his senior year, when the Cowboys went through a similar itinerary on Oahu.
“The trip was very important at looking at a different type of football and mentality, and they’re picking it up,” he said. “The trip worked.
“They are a little bit more in tune and focused, so it’s refreshing and exciting.”
Since word came out in January that Kohala was moving to 11-man, Atkins has seen excitement for the program grow in the community, and offseason conditioning attendance improved greatly.
However, one player who hasn’t come out for the team is one of the school’s best athletes: O’Shen Cazimero, the BIIF D-II basketball player of the year as a freshman last season.
“You can put something in there and maybe we can throw bread crumbs out there,” Atkins said. “I’ll stop (accepting) players after the first week of school.”
Kohala 0 0 0 0 — 0
Kalani 21 0 14 0 — 35
Kalani—Nathaniel Balangitao 11 run (Kevin Tabuchi kick)
Kalani—Wakea Kanahele 2 blocked punt return (Tabuchi kick)
Kalain—Jake Lee 13 pass from Logan Lim (Tabuchi kick)
Kalani—Lee 6 run (Tabuchi kick)
Kalani—Nicholas Sakamoto 20 interception return (Tabuchi kick)
RUSHING—Kohala: Zhane Ching 12-14, Tamatase Sauta 2-9, Makai Pang 1-3, Ryan Juan Kealoha 8-1, Keli’i Lactoen 1-(minus 2), Legend Libron 1-(minus 7). Kalani: Nathaniel Balangitao 14-97, Connor Mararagan 10-57, Lim 9-9, team 2-(minus 1), J. Lee 1-(minus 5).
PASSING—Kohala: Kona Ledward 2-7–1-17, Libron 0-1-0-0, Kealoha 6-16-1-(minus 2). Kalani: Lim 14-26–0-177.
RECEIVING—Kohala: Ching 2-(minus 18), Zak Javillonar 1-19, Pang 1-7, Lactoen 1-4, Keith Benedicto 1-4, Easton Hoshida 1-1, La’akea Mamala 1-(minus 2). Kalani: Dillon Cortez 3-77, Jaymn Mohika-Poche 3-29, Jonathan Cai 3-26, J. Lee 2-18, Mararagan 1-18, Jevin Matsukado 1-9, Pearl Lee 1-0.