BIIF football: Honokaa hot for playoffs, downs Ka’u 54-6

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Ka'u's Jonah Beck brings down Honokaa running back Gavin Silva on Saturday.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Ka'u's Kalem Libunao-Martinez jumps on a dropped ball Saturday against Honokaa.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Honokaa running back Bruce Reinbolt catches a screen pass Saturday against Ka'u.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Ka'u running back Jance "Pomai" Kajiwara-Ke smiles Saturday after being carried by a tackler from Honokaa.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Honokaa running back Talen Cazimero runs for a touchdown Saturday during the Dragons' 54-6 win against Ka'u.

PAHALA – With every toss, dive and quarterback keeper play it runs, Honokaa continues to ascend the learning curve that is the triple-option offense.

That same steep, uphill climb it faced earlier in the season is now left for opposing defenses to try and tackle.

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The Dragons rushed for 318 yards and seven touchdowns Saturday in a 54-6 victory against Ka’u that leaves them in an enviable position with a third consecutive win heading to the BIIF Division II football playoffs.

“Our fakes are getting better, we’re becoming more smooth and we’re focusing,” said freshman running back Bruce Reinbolt, who more often than not handles the dive portion of the attack. “When we run a veer right and then reverse it, it can confuse teams.”

The Trojans’ defense acquitted of itself well last week in a loss at Kamehameha and its double-wing offense, but the Dragons’ proved to be more difficult to contain, getting rushing touchdowns from five different players, including two apiece by Justin Pascua and quarterback Aka Spencer.

“It’s different from (an offense) that is just going to overpower you, then you can put nine (defenders) in the box” Honokaa coach Fred Lau said. “For us, we try to bait you into the box. If you don’t play in the box, then the middle is opened up.”

And when the middle is clogged it opens up terrain for Pascua, who ran for 141 yards, including a toss play that he took 65 yards for a score in the first quarter to make it 13-0.

That was easily the Dragons’ longest play of the day, as more often than not they seized on Ka’u mistakes and short fields, turning three fumbles into touchdowns – including Xander Tabucbuc’s 21-yard return for a score in the first quarter.

Securing the third seed in the playoffs, Honokaa gets a week off and can put its feet up and can hope that Kamehameha and Hawaii Prep beat each other up next week before facing the loser on the road on the semifinals on Saturday, Dec. 4.

“More guys are qualified now and are confident in what they are doing,” Lau said.

Honokaa also blocked a punt, cashing it in when Spencer scored from 5 yards out for a 27-0 first quarter lead.

The Trojans then celebrated their first touchdown of the season in the second quarter when Kaimana Kaupu-Manini got behind the defense, tipped a contested ball to himself and streaked to the end zone to loud applause from his sideline on an 85-yard pass from Jycetin Mukini.

“We’ve been waiting for one all season and finally got one,” Kaupu-Manini said. “Hopefully, more to come against Pahoa (next week).”

Ka’u will thrust itself into contention for the fourth seed by beating the Daggers, but it will have to take better care of the ball to harbor any hopes in the postseason. The Trojans threw six interceptions against Kamehameha and ball security was again an issue against Honokaa

Uhane Mock-Chew fell on a fumble at the Trojans’ 4 on the opening possession of the game, and two plays later Spencer scored from 2 yards out. Linebacker Mo Kamai crashed through the line to force a fumble in the second quarter, leading to Pascua’s second touchdown.

Subbing for slot backs Ka’eo Nakamoto and Micah Acdal – Lau hopes to have each back for the playoffs – Talen Cazimero ran for 60 yards and a score, and Reinbolt’s long kickoff return to open the second half set up Mock-Chew’s touchdown. The only other score of the half was Gavin Silva’s 13-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Kaupu-Manini’s long touchdown not withstanding, the Dragons were dialed up to stop the run. The Trojans’ 23 running plays netted negative 2 yards.

“We just hit them hard,” Reinbolt said

Honokaa 27 14 7 6 – 54

Ka’u 0 6 0 0 – 6

First quarter

Honokaa – Aka Spencer 2 run

Honokaa – Justin Pascua 65 run

Honokaa – Xander Tabucbuc 21 fumble return

Honokaa – Spencer 5 run

Second quarter

Ka’u – Kaimana Kaupu-Manini 85 pass from Jycetin Mukini

Honokaa – Talen Cazimero 12 run

Honokaa – Pascua 1 run

Third quarter

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Honokaa – Uhane Mock-Chew 2 run

Honokaa – Gavin Silva 13 run

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