Editor’s note: This story first appeared at www.hawaiitribune-herald.com
By BILL O’REAR
Tribune-Herald sports editor
In a prep preseason football game that occasionally looked like a giant water balloon fight, Hilo swashed its way to a 36-6 win over rival Waiakea on Friday night.
About 750 fans watched the wet-and-slippery contest on a mostly rainy night at Wong Stadium.
It was the season-opener for the Vikings (1-0) while the hustling Warriors (0-2) dropped their second straight preseason encounter.
Hilo quarterback Donavan Kelley ran for one touchdown and passed for another, and teammate Hunter Macabio returned a kickoff 85 yards for a score to lead the explosive Viking offense, which carried a 21-0 advantage into the half.
Kelley, a 5-foot-7, 170-pound junior, threw a 14-yard TD pass to Macabio with 2:34 left in the first quarter to give the host Vikings a 6-0 lead. Then senior Rayce Takayesu drilled the first of his four extra-point kicks in the hard-fought game.
Hilo struck again with 4:42 remaining in the second quarter when 205-pound sophomore Malu Lapilio bulled his way into the endzone. Takayesu’s kick made it 14-0.
The Vikings stretched the cushion to 21-0 with 47 seconds left left in the half when the quick Kelley sprinted three yards for a TD and Takayesu booted his third straight PAT.
In that opening half, Hilo rode the legs of Kelley (4 carries, 80 yards, a TD) and the hard-charging Lapilio (15 carries, 35 yards, 1 TD). The hosts racked up 135 yards rushing and 38 passing for 173 total yards.
Waiakea struck back with senior running back Devin Preston fighting his way to 66 yards in nine grueling attempts against the physical Viking defense. Warrior QB Kayed Rodrigues was also terrorized by the Hilo rush and completed just 2 of 7 passes for 16 yards and had an interception in the half.
Then after a scoreless third quarter by both teams, Hilo extended its lead at the 10:15 mark when junior Justyn Frias motored in from seven yards out to make it 27-0. Takayesu added the kick to tack on another digit.
However, Waiakea finally got on the scoreboard at the 7:30 mark when Rodrigues fired a 16-yard TD pass to Shane Picano II for the Warriors’ lone score. The extra-point kick failed due to a bad snap and Hilo dog-piled the holder.
The Vikings responded on the ensuing kickoff when Macabio, a 5-6, 135-pound wide receiver, grabbed the football and raced 85 yards through the Waiakea defense to hit paydirt. A low snap forced Kelley to avoid a fierce Warrior rush, and then after backpedaling toward midfield, he rifled a long two-point conversion pass to a wide-open Takayesu to make it 36-6.
Kelley finished with 76 yards rushing on six attempts, but he was held in check in the second half by the fired-up Waiakea defense. He also completed 5 of 8 passes for 39 yards and had one intercepted, by Warrior Tysen Pasco-Brown in the fourth quarter.
Lapilio had 66 yards in blue-collar 21 carries.
Rodrigues and Picano hooked up on two other pass completions in the fourth quarter to spark the Waiakea offense, which primarily runs through the high-energy Preston on most plays. If the Warriors can be successful passing the ball, it could make Preston even more difficult to stop with a balanced attack.
Preston, a 5-10 1/2, 185-pounder, finished the evening with 131 yards on 21 carries.
Rodrigues, who sat out most of the third quarter while Bryce Felipe (0 for 2 passing) ran the offense, completed 5 of 14 passes for 70 yards, a TD, and he was intercepted two times. The Warriors also lost three fumbles during the slippery contest.
Vikings Walter Chandler, Jon Salzman and Phillip Kapaona each recovered Waiakea fumbles while the feisty Haili Mahoe and Kamaloni Kauvaka had interceptions. Hilo gave away a fumble and an interception.
Hilo finished with 179 yards rushing and 39 passing for 218 total yards. Waiakea had 139 yards rushing and 70 passing for 244 total yards.
But it was more of the Vikings’ effectiveness on offense in building a 21-0 halftime lead and a stingy defense that played a vital role in the lopsided victory. The Warriors were also hurt by their turnovers — five overall — and the visitors recovered three of their own fumbles.
In junior-varsity action, Hilo topped Waiakea 13-0.
At Wong Stadium
Waiakea 0 0 0 6 — 6
Hilo 7 14 0 15 — 36
Grid note: BIIF preseason action continues Friday night with Konawaena at Hilo. On Saturday, it’s Honokaa at Waiakea, Kamehameha at Iolani, and Kealakehe at Kamehameha-Kapalama.