What was the annual BIIF Division I football game of the season – Kealakehe vs. Hilo – is in many ways just another game now that divisional foes are playing home-and-homes this season.
The Vikings, however, are quick to tell you one of the keys to their success is they treat every assignment as just another game.
“More so then the fact that we’ll play them at least twice this season, it’s just more of our process of preparing,” Hilo coach Kaeo Drummondo. “We’re always looking for consistent focus and effort every week, no matter who the opponent is.”
The Vikings (2-0, 1-0 BIIF Division) will look to continue their dominance against the Waveriders (1-1, 0-1) when the teams meet at 7:15 p.m. Friday at Wong Stadium, a game that was moved from Kailua-Kona because of electrical issues at Waverider Stadium. Hilo has won five of its six BIIF title games at the expense of Kealakehe and is 10-1 overall against the Waveriders since dethroning them in 2013. The lone loss came in 2015.
Still, Hilo recognizes that this assignment might differ from others.
“We’re anticipating a challenge on both fronts as has been the norm against Kealakehe,” Drummondo said. “That will require us to be technically sound and play with good leverage.
“As in years’ past, they will create challenges up front that will be a good test for us on both sides of the ball. As they typically do, they have good athletes who can hurt you if given the space. We’ll have to keep track of those guys and play as a unit to contain them.”
The Vikings were almost comically efficient last week in a 56-0 dismantling of Keaau that included eight touchdowns of at least 30 yards, two of which came on Elijah Apao punt returns and another on an Apao pick-six. On a team full of play-makers, Kaimi Tiogangco has been the go-to player so far, recording five touchdowns.
Linebacker Kalen White, the captain of the defense, and running back Shesley Martinez missed the game against the Cougars, but Drummondo was hopeful each could play Friday night barring a late setback.
“What I got from the Keaau film is that there was some progression from Game 1 to Game 2, which is the goal every week,” Drummondo said. “Irregardless of what the scoreboard says, are we improving in communication, discipline and execution? Those are the things that we must get better at with each passing game.”
Keaau (0-1, 0-1 Division I) at Waiakea (0-2, 0-1 Division I), 1:15 p.m.
One team will receive a much-needed boost.
The young Warriors have been outscored 95-6 in losses to Kamehameha and Honokaa, while the Cougars will try to eliminate the big plays that doomed them against the Vikings.
Last year’s meeting was one of the most dramatic matchups of the BIIF season, with Waiakea stopping a late two-point try to escape with a 14-13 win.
Kohala (0-1, 0-0 Division II) at Hawaii Prep (1-0, 1-0 Division II), 3 p.m.
With a victory, Ka Makani’s seniors can lay claim to their first multiple-win season — though first-year coach Kaluka Maiava has his sights set on much loftier goals.
Fielding an 11-man team for the first time since 2012, the Cowboys’ first goal this season is to compete. Kohala has had four weeks to prepare for this one since making a trip to Oahu that included a 35-0 loss to Kalani.