Come late Saturday afternoon, the curtain will have been raised on all 11 BIIF football teams.
Keaau makes its season debut under first-year co-coach Ian Van Cleave on Friday with a tall order on tap against Hilo in Week 1 of the regular season, and the Cougars might not be able to take advantage of the element of surprise when six-time defending Division I champion comes calling.
The teams scrimmaged two weeks ago, and Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo already has a scouting report on the Cougars, the league’s only Division I team not to schedule a nonleague game.
“Offensively, they have a handful of very capable athletes who run well, so we need to be able to contain them defensively,” Drummondo said. “They also have a good quarterback as well, so alignment/assignment responsibility will be key.”
Senior quarterback Bryant Respicio-Mercado returns after a gaining a valuable season of experience as Keaau went 2-5 in 2018, and Van Cleave told the Tribune-Herald Van Cleave that the Cougars will run the spread and rotate their running backs, slotbacks and wide receivers.
“Defensively, they’ve shown a few different looks,” Drummondo said, “so it’ll be important for us to understand what they’re trying to take away and just be patient and take what’s there and be ready to adjust.”
Of course, no matter the opponent, Hilo’s primary focus is execution on its side from start to finish. The Vikings (1-0) are coming off of a splendid second half in a 54-10 nonleague win against Kamehameha. Six Hilo players tallied touchdowns, three off Kyan Miyasato passes, and the defense forced five turnovers and neutralized the Warriors’ running game.
Drummondo said one goal Friday night — kickoff is set for approximately 7:15 p.m. — was for Hilo to play a complete 48-minute game.
“At the end of the day, we’re looking for progression within the system of our program,” he said. “Looking to improve on minimizing unforced errors and trying to execute a little better every week.”
Mission Viejo at Konawaena, 7 p.m. Friday
After opening up their BIIF season with a convincing 24-7 victory over rival Kealakehe last weekend, Konawaena is taking a week off of league play to host California power Mission Viejo at Julian Yates Field.
The Diablos are the 37th ranked team in the nation according to MaxPreps and have a long history of being one of the elite programs in the nation. The school produces plenty of Division I talent, with quarterback Mark Sanchez — who played with the Jets, Redskins, Eagles, Cowboys and Bears after starring at USC— being the most famous former player.
It’s the second year in a row that Konawaena has taken on a big challenge to kick off the season. Last year, the Wildcats travelled to Oahu to take on perennial Oahu power Kahuku, which resulted in a 61-9 loss.
“We always want to challenge our program against great teams,” Konawaena head coach Brad Uemoto told said previously. “We can play with some of these bigger teams, but it’s just a matter of putting in the work and being more consistent during a football game. The more you see that level, the better you can mimic it.”
Konawaena is slated to head to California next season to take on Mission Viejo on their home turf.
– West Hawaii Today