HPA grinds out 16-6 win at Honokaa

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Honokaa defensive lineman Zachariah Kanehia-Naho gets a hold of Hawaii Prep running back Jakob Honda on Friday night during Ka Makani's 16-6 win. Honda ran for 139 yards and intercepted a pass.

HONOKAA – The first football game in East Hawaii in almost two years probably couldn’t have been played any other way.

It was wet, naturally, and although it wasn’t a downpour, it came down sideways, thanks to the wind, in waves of irritation.

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“Sloppy all over, and we acted like we’ve never seen rain before,” Hawaii Prep coach Kaluka Maiava said. “Pretty frustrating, actually.”

And that was the winning coach Friday night, a 16-6 victor against Honokaa in BIIF Division II.

The slick conditions combined with the rust of a long layoff led to a defensive slobberknocker. There were fumbles into the double-digits, 23 negative plays from scrimmage, more defensive touchdowns than offensive ones and neither rival completed a pass, at least not to the right team.

Was this what everyone worked so hard and waited so long to get back to?

You better believe it.

“It’s just great to be on the field,” said Ka Makani senior Kamuela Gaughen, a linebacker and offensive lineman. “This is home, I believe I belong on the football field. My whole team, they are loving it.”

The effort for Ka Makani was far less aesthetically pleasing than a 69-0 win against Pahoa in their opener last week, but it was just as effective. Jakob Honda churned out the bulk of his team’s offensive output with 139 yards on 21 carries, and Gaughen’s strip sack set up Kainoa Ekolu’s short fumble return for a touchdown as HPA scored all of its points in the second quarter. Ka Makani have yet to allow an offensive score, and after allowing only one first down against the Daggers, they yielded only one in the first half against the Dragons.

But Maiava noted there is much to get cleaned up.

“I know we are a higher-caliber team than what we showed,” he said. “We might have got a little too ahead of ourselves, thinking they are all going to be like” the Pahoa game.

“But our guys showed character tonight, being in a tight game,” he said. “It was good to see them buckle down.”

The Dragons’ spread option running attack showed glimpses of potential during a third-quarter drive that netted four first downs. But a touchdown run was wiped out by a penalty, and the march stalled when Aka Spencer’s only pass of the night was intercepted by Honda.

Coach Fred Lau wasn’t making any excuses, but the slippery elements didn’t do any favors for an offense looking to pitch the ball to its backs. The Dragons, who were playing their opener because last week’s game against Kohala was pushed back, fumbled 11 times, losing two of them, and when all the negative plays were accounted for, they totaled just 23 yards. Honokaa’s best play from scrimmage was Micah Acdal’s 20-yard run.

“We just have to work on our mistakes, and work toward next week,” Lau said. “They have to want to work. We’ll get better.”

That includes the coaching staff, he said.

“We expected a passing game, and they caught us flat-footed in the first half,” Lau said.

HPA quarterback Tre Walker attempted just three passes. On the opening drive of the game, Honda set HPA up in Honokaa territory with three nice gains, and Walker was looking to throw when his pass to Braeden Samura on the left flank was ruled a lateral. That allowed Kai Alip to alertly scoop it up and zip 62 yards for a score.

HPA took the lead on its fourth possession, a three-play, 40-yarder – after a short punt – that included Honda’s run of 24 yards and Samura’s 14-yard score.

Mason Hunt hit a field goal to end the half after earlier missing from about 50 yards out. He was to have had two shorter attempts in the second half, but each try was negated by a faulty exchange.

Nothing came easy on this night for either team, but Gaughen and everyone else were home, and they weren’t taking this for granted.

“We’re not there yet, but we will be,” he said.

Bleacher creatures

Starting Monday, players will be allowed to have two family members attend BIIF football and volleyball contests, provided they are vaccinated.

Honokaa’s next home game is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 4, and fans won’t have to watch with an umbrella should it rain.

A set of bleachers with a roof overhang has been installed on the mauka side of the field.

HPA 0 16 0 0 – 16

Honokaa 6 0 0 0 – 6

First quarter

Honokaa – Kai Alip 62 fumble return (kick failed)

Second quarter

HPA – Kainoa Ekolu 2 fumble return (kick failed)

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HPA – Braeden Samura 14 run (Mason Hunt kick)

HPA – Hunt FG 27

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