Hilo High held its postgame victory talk Friday night, its players thanked the lingering crowd at Wong Stadium and then they went around in a semicircle and shook their coaches’ hands.
As Kilohana Haasenritter turned to leave, offensive coordinator Chris Todd told him, “Kilo, we have to get you going, my fault, my fault.”
The Vikings almost have to apologize for how much play-making talent they have, though they did a good enough a job of spreading the wealth in a 54-10 romp against Kamehameha. Kaimi Tiogangco and Shelsy Martinez each scored two touchdowns and Hilo debuted its “sick” all-yellow uniform, using a third-quarter onslaught to shrug off a sluggish offensive start and bury the Warriors before the teams head off in separate directions.
Tiogangco and Martinez – two of Hilo’s lesser-heralded skill players, at least until now – were in agreement. The Vikings love their yellow-on-yellow uniform, which has blue numbers and is topped off by a blue helmet with the Vikings’ insignia.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh, this is swag,”’ Tiogangco said. “Yes sir.”
He was just as happy to be wearing the No. 6, a jersey the coaching staff hands out from game to game based on merit. Tiogangco, coach Kaeo Drummondo said, filled in admirably in July in practice when quarterback Kyan Miyasato went down with any injury. Tiogangco took snaps from center in the non-league opener, running for a second-quarter score, and he was on the receiving end of one of Miyasato’s three touchdown passes.
“All spring and summer I was working hard and executing everything I could,” Tiogangco said, “and I just felt like I knew I was going to get (No. 6).”
The Vikings’ defense forced five turnovers, including two interceptions by Kainalu Lewis, and held the Warriors (1-2) to 10 yards rushing. Of Kamehameha’s 110 yards of offense, nearly half came on Austin Wilson’s touchdown reception in the fourth quarter.
“We do have an experienced crew, and it’s kind of what we expect (defensively)” Drummondo said. “We expect them to go out there, and not necessarily shut out the opponent, but minimize their success. Take away what they’re trying to do and make things uncomfortable for them.”
The BIIF’s two defending champions were playing for the first time since a competitive 28-14 Hilo win in 2017, and the cross-divisional matchup is annually one of the more anticipated ones on the league schedule. Kamehameha forfeited last season’s contest, and the teams won’t play in the regular season, when schools will play divisional foes twice.
The Warriors hung in defensively for a half Friday night, making five sacks, and trailed 14-3 before the roof caved in.
“I think the first half played out the way we practiced (Thursday), which was sloppy,” Drummondo said. “I disliked practice (Thursday), but I liked how they responded and executed in the second half.”
Simply put, the first nine-plus minutes of the third quarter were pure domination.
Kamehameha went three-and-out twice and turned the ball over twice, and Hilo scored each time. The Vikings’ opening possession of the half was its best sustained drive of the game, a 59-yarder that Martinez concluded with a touchdown run. The junior, who spent last season with Ka’u High, ran hard in his return to Vikings yellow, picking up 90 yards on seven carries.
“Eight-man is OK, but this is where it’s at,” Martinez said. “It feels great to be back. These are my boys, and I was missing the feel.”
He played behind touchdown-maker extraordinare Kahale Huddleston as a freshman in 2017, and last season with the Trojans Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley was the focal point of a run-heavy offense.
Martinez is the starting running back this season, but he’s still in a similar fight to get the ball.
“Every time I touch the ball, I try to score,” he said, “so hopefully they give me the ball.
“I did a lot of blocking at Ka’u, so it’s easier to block here.”
Miyasato (8 of 18 for 151 yards and a Joshua Ruiz interception) figures to have a different favorite receiving target each game, and it was Tiogangco (five catches) in the opener.
He turned a short catch into a 32-yard touchdown to put Hilo ahead 28-3, and on Hilo’s next possession he gained 30 yards on a screen pass behind a wall of blockers to set up Martinez’s second score.
“All the attention is on the other guys,” Tiogangco said, “because I’m still a junior, so when I get the ball it should happen.”
Elijah Apao, an all-BIIF cornerback, was responsible for Hilo’s longest play from scrimmage, a 58-yard touchdown on a swing pass in the first quarter. Haasenritter, meanwhile, lined up at running back and in the slot in his Vikings’ debut. He had a pair of nice gains wiped away by penalties before his touchdown reception capped the third-quarter barrage against his former school.
Not to be forgotten, Guyson Ogata returned a kickoff for a score, answering Wilson’s touchdown catch from Koby Tabuyo-Kahele. Playing for the first time this season, the junior quarterback was 7 of 25.
Kamehameha will start its title defense in revamped D-II by traveling to Ka’u on Saturday.
Hilo will do the same in D-I on Friday night at Keaau.
“First half we were kind of slow, so we had to talk about,” Martinez said. “We have a lot of talent on this team.”
Almost enough to apologize for.
Kamehameha 3 0 0 7 – 10
Hilo 7 7 27 13– 54
KSH – FG Elijah Dinkel 32
Hilo – Elijah Apao 58 pass from Kyan Miyasato (conversion failed)
Hilo – Kaimi Tiogangco 15 run (Shesly Martinez run)
Hilo – Martinez 15 run (Fiki Aguiar kick)
Hilo – Tiogangco 32 pass from Miyasato (Aguiar kick)
Hilo – Martinez 5 run (run failed kick)
Hilo – Kilo Haasenritter 14 pass from Miyasato (Aguiar kick)
Hilo – Don Moody 26 run (run failed)
KSH – Austin Wilson 54 pass from Koby Tabuyo-Kahele (Dinkel kick)
Hilo – Guyson Ogata 77 kickoff return (Aguiar kick)