KEAAU – Kealakehe coach Wyatt Nahale likened the conditions to hog heaven for a lineman.
With muddy patches prevalent in the middle of the field and the starting quarterbacks notably absent, this one came down to the men in the trenches.
“They love it, lineman love this,” Nahele said. “This is hogs going into the pen, right?”
No doubt, and that must make Elijah Kahele the thoroughbred. As others mired in the muck, Kahele found the fast track, running for three touchdowns, and his game-breaking presence was more than enough for the Waveriders, who handled Keaau 21-0 in a BIIF Division I game at the Cougars’ field.
“Give him an inch and he’s going to make it mile,” said Hailama Anakalea, a two-way lineman said.
Three weeks after the Waveriders (4-3) and Keaau (2-5) played in the second-highest scoring BIIF game this season – a 55-29 Kealakehe victory – they came back and slugged it out in the lowest.
The field didn’t help either offense.
“This is a whole different type of mud,” Nahale said. “You step and it and it’s like, “Holy smokes.”
The fact that the Waveriders were missing quarterback Sheynen Nahale, who sat out the game after getting ejected for throwing a punch last week, didn’t help either.
The only common denominator between the two games was Kahele, who weaved his way for 169 of Kealakehe’s 285 yards of offense on 15 carries, including touchdowns of 31, 23 and 48 yards in each of the first three quarters. Kahele scored five touchdowns in the first meeting.
“Elijah is just one of those kids, you can contain him and then all of a sudden he’ll do something special,” Wyatt Nahele said. “I give a lot of credit to our offensive line.”
Keaau quarterback Bryant Respicio-Mercado limped off with an apparent leg injury early in the second quarter, and the Cougars were held to 154 yards. Most of that coming from Duncan Castro, who ran for 108 yards, often taking the direct snap in three- and four-man backfields.
But every time Keaau came up with a play, Kealakehe had an answer.
Shaden Abejon hauled in a 36-yard reception from Nalukea Kamakea to get the ball the Waveriders’ 15 in the second quarter, but after stuffing a running play and forcing an incompletion, Kealakehe thwarted the drive with an interception.
In the third quarter, Castro ran for a 29-yard gain, but on the next play Keaau fumbled the snap and lost 22 yards.
“The way our defense played tonight we could have won with a safety,” Nahale said. “They played lights out.”
Success in the passing game came at a premium, though Nahale was impressed with the way quarterback Malachi Lehman stepped in and handled the conditions.
Lehmann was just 2 of 11 for yards passing, but he added 64 yards rushing, creating enough of a diversion to keep Keaau from solely focusing on Kahele. Kealakehe didn’t turn the ball over.
“I had confidence in our backup QB,” said Anakalea, a guard. “He really stepped up and took control of the offense.
“Keaau’s defense was giving us hard rubs. It was good battle.”
Keaau completed 5 of 11 passes for 46 yards. The Cougars punted seven times and averaged just a shade above 3.5 yards a play. In its past three games, Keaau has scored just once in regulation.
Anakalea, also a defensive tackle, played a central role, making two tackles for loss, including a sack.
It was his kind of game.
“Straight mud, but I had fun,” he said. “It took me awhile, maybe the end of third quarter I started getting my footing down.”
Kealakehe 7 7 7 0 – 21
Keaau 0 0 0 0– 28
Kealakehe – Elijah Kahele 31 run (Kekai Robins kick)
Kealakehe – Kahele 23 run (Robins kick)
Kealakehe – Kahele 48 run (Robins kick)