KEAAU – It’s not as catchy as they came, they saw, they conquered, but it will do: Kamehameha expected it, fought for it and got it
The Warriors’ weird and winding traverse after staying put in the realigned BIIF – complete with blowout wins against undermanned Division II teams and humbling nonconference losses – ended where everyone expected it to all along.
In lieu of a work of art, Kamehameha turned in the art of a workman in Friday night’s D-II title game, stonewalling Hawaii Prep 16-0 at Paiea Stadium to earn the program’s first football championship repeat.
No matter the style, the substance was just as effective, and the Warriors were going to soak in all in.
“They have to enjoy the moment,” first-year coach Shaun Perry said. “We didn’t overlook that we were going to get to this point. You can’t get to states and enjoy it if you’re not going to enjoy this.
“We’re happy to get to states and tackle the next challenge.”
That will come Nov. 16 when Kamehameha (9-0 BIIF D-II, 10-3 overall) hosts OIA runner-up Roosevelt (8-2 OIA, 9-2) in an HHSAA first-round game as the No. 4 seed. The other three seeded teams got byes to the semifinals.
It’s been a trip just to get here.
“Throughout the season there were times we didn’t know what we were doing,” junior defensive end Delson Dacalio said, “but later on we figured out we could make it.
“When I saw the (low score) I told myself the defense has to step up, and I’ve got to play to my maximum capacity. We wanted to climb higher and reach for the top.”
When in doubt, Dacalio heads to the quarterback.
In the teams’ third meeting of the season, he spearheaded a ferocious defensive effort with three sacks and five tackles for loss as the Warriors held Ka Makani to just 121 yards of offense and only 21 on the ground. Kamehameha intercepted three passes, including Joshua Luiz’s pick-six to put the game out of reach late in the fourth quarter.
“As a defensive player, our goal is always to score, our goal is always to make the big play,” Luiz said. “We just can’t count on the offense to do all the work.”
On a dry night when big plays in the passing game just didn’t seem meant to be on both sides – be it dropped passes or overthrown receivers who were running free – sophomore Micah Mahiai was the Warriors’ workhorse, rumbling for 108 yards and a touchdown. Subbing for injured starting running back Apu Alfiche, Mahiai’s 28-yard run set up Kamehameha with a first-and-goal at the HPA 5 in the second quarter of a scoreless game. Three incompletions later, Elijah Dinkel kicked a 23-yard field goal.
After HPA’s Conor Hunt was short on a 50-yard field goal on the opening possession of the third quarter, the Warriors engineered their best drive of the game, an eight-play, 80-yard march highlighted by Koby Tabuyo-Kahele’s 34-yard completion to Izayah Chartrand-Penera. Mahiai’a 5-yard touchdown run finally gave the Warriors a two-score lead.
“I felt comfortable, once I got that (score),” Mahiai said. “When I ran that play, it was just, “Let’s go baby, let’s go.”
He said the Warriors took HPA for granted last week in a 35-11 win at Paiea.
“We were slacking, but we came back strong,” Mahiai said. “Everyone is loving this moment. We live for this moment.”
HPA did well to hold down a Warriors’ offense that had scored at least 29 points in every D-II game this season. A victim of myriad dropped passes, Tabuyo-Kahele finished 15 of 35 for 203 yards as Kamehameha picked up 382 yards of offense. Makoa Aurello caught four passes for 72 yards. Dinkel was one for five on field-goal tries.
Penalties continue to be a problem the Warriors.
Last week, the they were flagged 11 times for 165 yards. This time, they drew 15 penalties for 161 yards.
“HPA is tough,” Perry said. “We weren’t playing down, they were playing up. (Ka Makani) are performing at a high level and we are having struggles like any other team. But guys are making plays and stepping up.”
HPA’s best chance to score came on an 11-play drive spanning the first and second quarters as quarterback Umi Kealoha completed passes of 13 yards to Jaysen Bragado and 14 to Javan Perez (five catches, 71 yards). Kealoha ran for 9 yards, and Zachary Machold’s 8-yard gain advanced the ball to the Warriors’ 12.
But Kealoha was flushed out of the pocket on the next play and was flagged for intentional grounding, and three plays later Hunt was wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt.
Kealoha was 5 of 20 for 50 yards and an interception, and Tre Walker was 4 of 12 for 46 yards with two picks, including a set-up job by Luiz, who returned his interception 67 yards for a score.
“The play right before that, the QB looked one way and was going the other,” Luiz said. “Before the (next) play happened, I pointed to the other side, I was saying watch over there. I went over there to bait the quarterback, and I took one step that way and went to the other side to get the pick.”
Tyler Eckart and Chartrand-Penera also had interceptions for a Kamehameha defense that posted its sixth shutout and has allowed just 37 points in nine Division II games.
Kamehameha’s BIIF season was supposed to end with celebration on its track, and it did.
Afterward, it was time to refocus.
“The mood of this team is state championship,” Dacalio said. “One more thing: shout-out to the (96777). Ka’u town, Pahala town.”
Hawaii Prep 0 0 0 0 – 0
KS-Hawaii 0 3 7 6 – 16
KS-Hawaii – FG Elijah Dinkel 26
KS-Hawaii – Micah Mahiai 5 run (Dinkel kick)
KS-Hawaii – Joshua Luiz 67 interception return (kick blocked)