WAIMEA – We were warned.
Before the start of the 2021 season, Hawaii Prep’s head coach Kaluka Maiava said fans should expect an exciting, explosive season from Ka Makani.
After Saturday afternoon’s 69-0 thrashing of Pahoa, Hawaii Prep is proving their head coach right.
In his first start under center, Tre Walker accounted for four touchdowns: three in the air and one on the ground. The senior signal caller looked comfortable from the start to the final whistle, opening the scoring in the first quarter with a 42-yard strike to Alakai Aipia and closing the day with a 10-yard scamper into the end zone.
“He cut it up, man,” Maiava said of Walker. “He’s really running the show. He’s in control, he’s a true leader, guys feed off of his energy, and he’s only getting warmed up.”
Braeden Samura and Ekolu Kainoa were on the receiving end of Walker’s final two touchdown passes. Jakob Honda added another three touchdowns on the ground, all before halftime. It was Kamuela Gaughen, however, who notched the longest score of the day, overpowering and outracing the Daggers’ defense 78 yards to the end zone in the third quarter.
Add in a pair of pick-6s – one by Jordan Hanano in the second quarter and another by Luke Hendricks in the third – and the blowout was complete. Pahoa struggled to move the ball against a swarming HPA defense, registering just one first down all game.
“For us to hold them to one first down, that’s pretty impressive,” Maiava said. “Hats off to our guys studying hard on the playbook, practicing hard, practicing game speed every day. They prepared well for this, and they deserve it.”
Maiava does see one area for improvement: special teams. While Mason Hunt drilled his first nine extra point attempts, the final one of the day was blocked. A couple kickoffs bounced out of bounds for penalties, and coverage breakdowns resulted in kickers making tackles far too often.
“I’m a big special teams guy – that was my bread and butter in my playing days – special teams need to get cleaned up,” Maiava said. “I don’t want my kickers making tackles.”
Pahoa (0-1 BIIF) hopes to bounce back next week, when they travel to play Kohala on Saturday.
The 1-0 Ka Makani, meanwhile, will also hit the road next week. They’ll take on Honokaa Friday night, hoping to light up the scoreboard for a second straight week.
“I’m excited to see what next week brings,” Maiava said. “We’re excited for Friday night lights.”
KEALAKEHE 20, KAMEHAMEHA 0 (Nonleague)
The Waveriders may have implemented elements of the Air Raid offense into their scheme, but when push came to shove on Friday night, it was Kealakehe’s ground game that put them over the top.
TJ Arakawa took over as feature back for the Waveriders, scoring two of Kealakehe’s three touchdowns. The senior running back averaged more than 11 yards per carry, toting the rock 12 times for 136 yards. Arakawa’s touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters gave his team much-needed breathing room in what turned out to largely be a defensive struggle.
In head coach Kealoha Wengler’s first game, Kamehameha unveiled a run-heavy Wing-T-style offense. Though the Warriors failed to find the end zone, the scheme managed to confuse the Kealakehe defense at multiple points throughout the night.
“We were kind of shooting in the dark,” Kealakehe head coach Wyatt Nahale said of his team’s defensive strategy. “Their style of offense is something not everyone in the league runs.
“The challenge was trying to put together something that was different … We responded real well. I thought defensively, they rallied together. In the end, I’m always satisfied to see we were able to hold our opponents down.”
Jacob Mahelona tallied the first score of the season for the Waveriders, catching a touchdown pass from Sheynen Nahale in the first quarter.
Nahale was 19-29 on the night, racking up 193 yards through the air. The senior quarterback’s favorite targets were Mahelona, who caught four passes for 45 yards including the game’s lone touchdown pass, Ayzen Cummings, with 64 yards on six catches, and Hunter Acia, who caught three passes for 61 yards.
Above all, Kealakehe’s head coach was just glad to finally get in-game reps for his team after going nearly two years without a contest.
“Our biggest takeaway is just trying to get some more experience under our belt as a team,” Nahale said. “There’s so much new pieces that we’re trying to put together; the experience is probably the greatest thing we can take away.”
Kamehameha returns home next week; they’ll host Ka’u in their official BIIF opener.
Kealakehe has a bye next week. The Waveriders will next be in action Friday, Oct. 29, when they welcome Waiakea for their BIIF opener.