WAIMEA — Kamehameha showed why its the class of the BIIF’s Division II on Saturday in a 34-12 victory over Hawaii Preparatory Academy, convincingly taking Round 1 in a clash of unbeaten Big Island squads.
But the defending champion Warriors also showed they have some fine-tuning to do if they want to get to their desired destination — a challenge first-year head coach Shaun Perry and his staff are embracing.
“A ‘W’ is a ‘W’ — any coach will be happy with that,” Perry said following the win. “We just want to be a little cleaner seven weeks or so into the season. I’m looking forward to our kids getting better. There should be a definite difference in what you see now and what you see in four weeks from now.
“We’re in it for the long haul,” he added. “We still have a long way to go.”
Behind relentless pressure from their front seven and a trio of touchdown passes from junior quarterback Koby Tabuyo-Kahele, the Warriors controlled the majority of the game to move to 3-0 this season. Kamehameha racked up 400-plus yards of total offense, with Tabuyo-Kahele completing 18 of 26 passes for 207 yards. On the ground, four powerful Kamehameha rushers bullied their way for 224 combined yards, led by a 106-yard effort by Apu Alfiche.
But despite the strong play from the Warriors, HPA (3-1) hung with Kamehameha and kept things interesting until the final whistle.
“HPA played with a ton of heart and their coach did not let them let up,” Perry said. “I’m happy for them as a program.”
It was a nice change of pace for the Warriors, who won their first two games of the season by a combined 108-6. Ka Makani kept it a two score game for a good part of the second half and quarterback Umi Kealoha and Justin Lina showed they could make the defense pay if they got complacent.
“That’s what we needed,” Perry said. “We need to show resilience and the ability to battle adversity.”
Kealoha had a pair of touchdowns, running for one and passing for another. Both went for over 40 yards and made up the majority of the HPA offense for the day. He also put on some mileage running away from the Warriors’ pressure that was in his face all afternoon. The charge was led by Wilde Germano and Luke Kaniho, who looked sharp returning from an injury, pleasing his head coach.
“He played fantastic,” Perry said of Kanhio. “Really happy with that.”
Kukila Lincoln notched a pair of sacks and a tackle for loss for HPA.
Kamehameha came off of more than two-week layoff on fire, executing its offense to near perfection in the first quarter. The Warriors racked up 113 yards, scoring on both of their drives. Meanwhile, the Kamehameha defense held HPA’s offense to negative yardage, the only first down being picked up after a roughing the punter penalty.
But HPA was not going away easily. Ka Makani got some momentum on a fumble recovery once the rain started falling and flipped the turnover into a touchdown when Kealoha found Lina on a 41-yard connection on third-and-long, making it 14-6.
Hawaii Prep came up with another turnover when KJ Walker rose up for an interception, but Ka Makani were unable to do anything with it, going three-and-out.
Kamehameha captured the momentum back when Makoa Aurello snagged a 30-yard TD pass from Tabuyo-Kahele less than a minute before half to make it 21-6. The Warriors tried to add another before half after recovering an onside kick, but their Hail Mary attempts came up short.
Despite being just a two score game, HPA headed to the locker room with some adjustments to make. More plays went backward than forward in the first half, but the bomb between Kealoha and Lina evened things out a bit.
Kamehameha had 273 yards of first half offense (111 rushing, 162 passing) thanks to some big plays and chunk yardage in the run game.
After a fairly stagnant third quarter, the Warriors padded their lead when Tobey Lau picked up a HPA pass that was ruled backwards and ran it in — all while missing a shoe.
HPA needed big plays downfield, but Kealoha didn’t have time to drop back and sit in the pocket. He was constantly on the run as the Warriors opted to pressure nearly every down. Kealoha took things into his own hands midway through the fourth, spinning, juking and trucking his way into the end zone on a highlight reel scamper that spanned from sideline to sideline.
Alfiche earned his 100-yard game with a late 35-yard run that set up a short TD plunge by Micah Mahiai (54 yards).
Kamehameha hosts Kohala next Saturday to finish off its first round against D-II opponent. HPA has a bye week.
Kamehameha 14 7 6 7 — 34
HPA 0 6 0 6 — 12
KAM —Koby Tabuyo-Kahele 19 yard pass to Izayah Chartand-Penera (kick good)
KAM — Tabuyo-Kahele 17 yard pass to Austin Wilson (kick good)
HPA — Umi Kealoha 41-yard pass to Justin Lina (kick failed)
KAM — Tabuyo-Kahele 30-yard pass to Makoa Aurello (kick good)
KAM — Tobey Lau 18-yard fumble return (kick failed)
HPA — Umi 43-yard run
KAM — Micah Mahiai 3-yard run