Kohala’s football program obviously remembered something from its five years of eight-man football: Don’t bother passing when you can run.
Legend Libron picked up 189 yards and a long touchdown run Saturday, and the Cowboys gained 334 yards on the ground to beat Pahoa 31-18 in Kapaau for their first win since returning to BIIF Division II and first overall since 2017
“We tried passing a couple of times,” coach Chad Atkins said, “but the run was working.
“As long as (QB) Ryan (Keoloha) is not in there, we’ll use the run when it’s working.”
Taking on their former eight-man brethren, the Cowboys (1-2, 1-1 BIIF) were playing their first Division II game at home since dropping the 11-man in 2012. Kohala went winless in eight-man last season, including three losses to the Daggers, who dropped their third in a row to start the season
“I think everyone (here) was wondering how we would do, and I think they were more surprised than anything,” Atkins said. “Now they know we are ready this season.”
He anticipated taking advantage of Keoloha’s passing skills this season, but the junior has been sidelined with an ailment. In his place, up stepped Libron, a sophomore who ripped off a 66-yard touchdown run in the first quarter and averaged 12.4 yards per carry.
Tasi Sauta scored touchdowns on a pair 3-yard runs, the second of which restored Kohala’s two-score lead in the fourth quarter.
Atkins said Libron was coming off a subpar game the week before in a 45-6 loss at Hawaii Prep.
“He ran hard and it showed,” Atkins said. “He was determined to do well.”
Kelii Lactoen’s touchdown run gave the Cowboys a 31-12 midway through the fourth. Zhane Ellazar-Ching picked up 68 yards on just eight carries.
Duke Palma’s 68-yard run for touchdown, his third of the season for Pahoa, capped the scoring, but the Daggers’ offense was largely inefficient in the air. Quarterback Jayden Broad-Melander threw a touchdown pass to Keanu Muck, finishing 14 of 35 for 118 yards and an interception.
Atkins credited the effectiveness of his his defensive front seven, which also hung tough in the loss to Ka Makani, who took advantage of six turnovers, including two pick-sixes.
Kohala lost four fumbles against Pahoa, one of which David Martinez returned for a score at the end of the first half.
The Cowboys travel to Pahala on Saturday to face Ka’u, it’s former eight-man nemesis.
“We’re treating everyone the same,” Atkins said. “We want to create and atmosphere and a program and follow the recipe of others, like Brad Uemoto at Konawaena.”