WAIMEA — In their final home game, Umi Kealoha and his fellow Hawaii Prep seniors left their mark, scorching Pahoa 62-6 in a game where seemingly nothing could go wrong for Ka Makani, who moved to 5-1 this season.
It’s a reality few could have imagined, with Hawaii Prep managing just one BIIF win in their previous three seasons and struggling to even keep a team on the field.
“It’s awesome for them to feel like this after a game,” first-year HPA head coach Kaluka Maiava said, looking around at the big smiles of his seniors. “Especially for these senior guys who have hung in there through the tough times. We have a lot of guys who signed up year after year, got beat up, but kept coming. For them to have this — that’s awesome.”
Kealoha had his best game as the starter in Waimea, connecting on 8 of 11 passes for 179 yards and 5 touchdowns in a half of work. He also added a 71-yard run on Ka Makani’s first drive, setting the tone for the afternoon.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Kealoha said after the win. “We are thankful to have coach Kaluka here. He really helped change things around. We want to play for him. To come from these past three years to win our senior game — it’s just incredible.”
HPA racked up 411 yards of total offense — a far cry from a week ago in Kohala where offense was hard to come by and Ka Makani were lucky to escape with a 15-12 win.
“The Kohala game was a wake-up call,” Maiava said. “I texted the coach over there and thanked him for that. It was some humble pie, that’s for sure. We had to hit the reset button, both players and coaches.”
HPA had a 48-0 lead by the half, and tacked on two more late with backups in the game. Kealoha connected on a pair of TD passes to fellow seniors Javan Perez and Jaysen Bragado, and Kacen Hamada caught another.
“Umi has stepped up. I can’t even put it into words,” Maiava said. “He’s answered the challenge of leading this team.”
But for as impressive as the HPA offense was, the defense was equally magnificent, putting on a clinic with a trio of interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“For these guys to feel this kind of success is special,” Maiava said. “Hard work is always rewarded.”
Pahoa’s lone highlight came on the last play of the game, when David Martinez rumbled 80 yards down the sideline for a score, busting the shut out.
Next up for HPA is a tough trip to Ka‘u to take on the Trojans (2-3). In their first matchup in Waimea, HPA overcame a halftime deficit, pitching a shutout in the second half to escape with a 26-12 victory. However, the lasting memory for Hawaii Prep from that game is the sight of Izaiah Pilanca-Emmsley running the ball. He carried it 33 times for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns — both over 50 yards.
“We can’t act like he doesn’t exist,” Maiava said of Pilanca-Emmsley. “He’s a great player and their top weapon. We have to prepare for the challenge and take care of business.”
Pahoa 0 0 0 6 — 6
HPA 21 27 7 7 — 62
HPA — Zach Machold 1-yard run (Conor Hunt kick good)
HPA — Umi Kealoha 5-yard pass to Javan Perez (Hunt kick good)
HPA — Justin Lina 50-yard punt return (Hunt kick good)
HPA — Kealoha 42-yard pass to Kacen Hamada (Hunt kick good)
HPA — Kealoha 16-yard pass to Jaysen Bragado (Hunt kick failed)
HPA — Kealoha 28-yard pass to Bragado (Hunt kick good)
HPA — Kealoha 52-yard pass to Perez (Hunt kick good)
HPA — Leon Weiss 8-yard run (Hunt kick good)
HPA — Tre Walker 6-yard pass to KJ Walker (Hunt kick good)
PAHOA —David Martinez 80-yard run (2-pt failed)