BIIF football: Dragons dominate, Daggers hang in bizarre contest

  • Justin Pascua

HONOKAA – For Honokaa, one more small step toward improving ahead of the playoffs. The Dragons won 54-8, with five different players scoring touchdowns in their second consecutive victory.

For Pahoa, 14 large steps, literally, toward merely enjoying the game. The Daggers thought about leaving early but were glad they stayed.

ADVERTISING


Friday night’s BIIF D-II mismatch was chippy and heated from the outset, and the game nearly took an unfortunate turn early in the second quarter when Pahoa threatened to forfeit, accusing the Dragons of more than one dirty play. With Honokaa already ahead 35-0 and the running clock in play, Keaka Cagampang intercepted a pass near Pahoa’s sideline, and as he weaved his way into the end zone, a Pahoa lineman was blocked to the ground trying to make a tackle.

The score was negated by a penalty, but as the lineman lay on the grass, the Daggers’ coaching staff at first seemed determined to leave the field. During a delay that lasted more than 10 minutes, school officials discussed options before play finally resumed.

“We talked it out,” said Pahoa High athletic director Hoku Haliniak, who wasn’t at the game but conferred with her coaching staff by phone. “Both sides worked it out. Once it was determined it could be a safe game, we continued.”

The lineman walked off the field to the trainer’s table. In a video of the interception return posted on Facebook, the block in question appeared to be clean.

Down two offensive lineman, the Daggers (1-3) responded by inserting 6-foot-2 1/2, 250-pound defensive lineman Mason Tai into the backfield, giving the junior his first look at running back. On his second carry, he dragged a tackler for a 14-yard gain, drawing a spirited cheer from Pahoa’s sideline.

“We just wanted to play harder,” said Tai, who ran nine times for 25 yards. “We didn’t want to leave like that.”

“They played dirty,” he said, “but it happens.”

Honokaa coach Fred Lau took exception to the allegation that his team played dirty and was disappointed to hear that Pahoa’s coaching staff had considered forfeiting.

“We don’t coach that type of extra (-curricular) stuff,” he said.

“They don’t know how to adjust to the option,” Lau said of Pahoa’s defense. “You can see for yourself.

“(We) weren’t trying to take anybody’s head off.”

Dragons roll

Justin Pascua ran for two touchdowns, including a 75-yarder to open the scoring, and quarterback Aka Spencer accounted for three scores.

Football is a rough game, and sometimes it’s roughest on the moms.

Afterward, Janelle Pascua unsuccessfully tried to hold back tears as her youngest of four went through his traditional senior day ceremony.

First, Justin Pascua had to sweat out whether he’d have a senior season.

“Just happy and thankful for what we got,” he said.

Then, his last home game was almost stopped short.

“I was super proud of my team,” he said of his thoughts during the delay, “and concerned for Pahoa, because I didn’t want them to get hurt anymore.”

Ka’eo Nakamoto’s 16-yard touchdown run made it 28-0, and Samson Akau’s 23-yard scamper put Honokaa (2-2) ahead 48-0 in the third quarter. Defensively, Talen Cazimero found the end zone for the second time this season, returning an interception 20 yards for a score.

Lau was encouraged that Spencer kept the ball more in the option game, scoring on runs of 20 and 27 yards.

“Now we he knows it a triple option,” the coach said.

Spencer’s third touchdown pass of the season, a 17-yard strike to Blaysin Bernard Erece, was more ascetically pleasing than two previous ones against Kohala that Spencer previously criticized.

“He’s getting more confident in his passes, and the more receptions we get, it builds his confidence,” Pascua.

With a win next week at Ka’u, Honokaa will claim the third seed in the BIIF D-II playoffs and a road game at Kamehameha or Hawaii Prep in the semifinals.

“We’ve got (academic probation) kids coming back, and the team is coming more together,” Pascua said

ADVERTISING


Pahoa drove for its first touchdown of the season in the game’s final minute. After two personal fouls penalties put the ball at the 17, quarterback Donivan Lynch ran to the 1, where Moses Oros powered in. Tai ran in the two-point conversion.

“It was pretty big that we scored,” Tai said.