Between spring practice, 7-on-7 tournaments, summer conditioning, trips to Oahu for camps and good old-fashion high-intensity practices, the Hilo High football team’s work schedule covers a good portion of the calender.
The Vikings don’t merely focus on explosive plays, dominating defense and gaudy victories, they also gear up for hard times, which for the first time this season came in handy Saturday night.
Now we know.
Hilo sweats. The 2019 Vikings bleed. They even trailed.
They never folded.
“We’re built for adversity,” defensive back Kapana Kanae-Kane.
And seemingly every other contingency on the football field.
That it didn’t come easy made it all the more rewarding for Hilo, which eventually overwhelmed Konawaena 42-18 at Wong Stadium, getting three second-half touchdown receptions from Guyson Ogata to capture its seventh consecutive BIIF Division I championship.
“This feels a lot better than 30-something to 0 in the second quarter with a running clock,” coach Kaeo Drummondo said. “No matter what our record is or what the score says, (championships) are never easy. You enjoy the win for the amount of time that you can enjoy it, then you move on to the next challenge.”
Awarded the top seed at the HHSAA tournament, the Vikings (11-0 BIIF, 12-0 overall) have three weeks off before they take the field Nov. 23 at Wong against either Baldwin or Leilehua in the semifinals.
Kyan Miyasato continued his splendid senior season by throwing four of his five touchdowns passes in the second half as the Viks used a 28-point third quarter to put an exclamation point on one of the most dominant seasons in BIIF history. Hilo outscored it league foes 611-52, though the margin of victory in the title game represented its closest game this season and its first not to go to the running clock because of the 35-point mercy rule.
The Vikings’ dynasty also moved a step closer to matching the 11 consecutive titles Konawaena won from 1980-90.
“Hilo is becoming that team,” Wildcats coach Brad Uemoto, “and obviously we want to end that streak for the guys in the 80s and 90s, and it’s something that we want to start doing. Start our own streak.”
“Hilo, I keep repeating, they are a great team. (That team), they don’t come around very often.”
Kainoa “Boo” Jones threw two touchdown passes for Konawaena (8-3, 9-3), which played light-out defense in the first half and led 6-0 late into the second quarter. But Hilo forced Konawaena to punt out of its end zone, and the Vikings turned the good field position into Kilohana Haasenritter’s 27-yard touchdown catch. The play was initially ruled out of bounds inside the 1, but the officials conferred and said Haasenritter stretched the ball over the right pylon, and Hilo led 7-6 at the half.
“They gave us a good game and I liked that,” Ogata said. “We had to fight for what we wanted. Because they had it, we had to go get it.”
On Hilo’s first play from scrimmage in the second half, Ogata raced down the left sideline for a 58-yard touchdown catch, and on its next play he went 56 yards for a score on a similar looking play.
“We knew we had them, we just executed in the second half,” he said. “The defense was playing off, I just had to beat them.”
“I was down in the first half. My mind wasn’t in the game.”
The all-BIIF senior stuck with it this season while holding a slightly smaller role than last season as he shared the ball with an abundance of playmakers. Haasenritter, who transferred last offseason from Kamehameha-Hawaii, also had an interception to go along with his 11th touchdown catch. Junior Kaimi Tiogangco emerged this season as a junior and hauled in a 37-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, and Fiki Aguiar scored on a 1-yard run.
Ogata’s three touchdowns catches were a season high, and he matched his three-score game from Oct. 4 at Honokaa, when he scored on a punt return.
“It’s something that we talk about all the time,” Drummondo said. “They are going to scheme. They practice to, they take certain things away, and when they do they’re going to leave other things open.
“When your number is called you have to perform, and (Guyson) did.”
In the midst of Hilo’s second-half onslaught, Konawaena popped two big plays. Joseph Roback blocked a punt into the end zone and fell on it for a score, and Kaden Baptista hauled in a 69-yard touchdown pass from Jones.
During his postgame talk, Uemoto released his seniors and talked to the players who are eligible to return next season.
“For the future of our program, we’ve got to put more work in the offseason,” Uemoto said. “We have to get better. Were going to Mission Viejo (Calif.) next season, it’s going to start way earlier. I wanted to let them know we have to put in a ton of work early and we have to start playing at the level of Hilo in September.”
Kanae-Kane collected his third interception in the past two games, but he also missed out on two potential pick-sixes.
As he and Drummondo met in the postgame celebration, the coach hinted Hilo could be looking at ball drills in practice before the state tournament.
The Vikings have time, and they don’t plan to let any of it go to waste.
“We’ll work hard, no days off,” Kanae-Kane said. “We’re going to be grinding all day.”
Konawaena 0 6 6 6 –18
Hilo 0 7 28 7–42
Kona – Marc Basa 21 pass from Kainoa “Boo” Jones (kick blocked)
Hilo – Kilohana Haasenritter 27 pass from Kyan Miyasato (Keanu Keolanui kick)
Hilo – Guyson Ogata 58 pass from Miyasato (Keolanui kick)
Hilo – Ogata 56 pass from Miyasato (Keolanui kick)
Konawaena – Joseph Robuck recovered blocked punt in end zone (kick failed)
Hilo – Kaimi Tiogangco 37 pass from Miyasato (Keolanui kick)
Hilo – Ogata 18 pass from Miyasato (Keolanui kick)
Hilo – Fiki Aguiar 1 run (Keolanui kick)
Konawaena – Kaden Baptista 61 pass from Jones (run failed)