KAILUA-KONA — Kealakehe has the first one out of the way.
Now, the key for the Waveriders is staying afloat in the top heavy BIIF Division I — one game at a time.
Kealakehe (1-2) knocked off Honokaa 49-0 last weekend for its first league win behind a well-rounded performance in all phases of the game, which included six turnovers from the defense, a season-high 273 yards from quarterback Sheynen-Wyatt Nahale and a 103-yard rushing performance from Elijah Kahele.
“It felt good to get that one out of the way,” Kealakehe head coach Wyatt Nahale said. “When I get to look at these guys and the expressions on their faces, knowing their hard work finally paid off — it’s special.”
With just two teams qualifying for the postseason in the BIIF, even this early in the season, there’s no margin for error the rest of the way for Kealakehe (1-2), which dropped its first two games of the season to powerhouses Hilo (3-0) and Konawaena (3-0).
But instead of hitting the panic button, the Waveriders are simplifying things.
“There was adversity,” Nahale admitted. “But you want to play the best teams. For us, we got them up front. You take those games and learn from them. We took a lot of good things away from those losses, especially against Hilo. We kind of had to start over again, strip things down and focus on the basics: blocking, tackling and execution.”
The Waveriders will get a shot at redemption against both Hilo and Konawaena at home, as the new-look BIIF schedule has each divisional opponent playing twice per season.
While the Waveriders put up big offensive numbers, it was the guys who don’t get the glory in the box score that made a big difference against Honokaa. The Waveriders offensive line protected Sheynen-Wyatt Nahale against relentless A-gap pressure from the Dragons, while the defensive line stood their ground and slowed down Honokaa’s run-heavy look to nearly a halt.
“Hats off to our line coaches and the guys in the trenches,” Nahale said. “You can see it’s starting to come together. We have worked hard on being more physical up front.”
Kealakehe has faced the heavy-hitters for the first round already and sits with a points for/against margin of 77-75. However, the rest of the standings are not pretty in terms of parity. The top two D-I teams in the league (Hilo/Konawaena) have outscored opponents a combined 311-28. The bottom three (Keaau/Waiakea/Keaau) have been outscored 105-410.
Next up for Kealakehe is Keaau (1-2) on Friday at Waverider Stadium, which will serve as the team’s first home game this season. Kealakehe was supposed to host Hilo in Week 2, but an electrical issue sent that game to the east side.
Keaau’s two losses have come by a combined score of 92-0, but the Cougars beat Waiakea in Week 2.
“We can’t overlook anyone,” Nahale said. “I told our players, it’s one game at a time. We need to get back on track and just keep focusing on the next game and the next play. Don’t worry about anything else but the game in front of us.”