By JOE FERRARO
WAIMEA — Playing against a quarterback that leads the state in passing yards and touchdown passes, Hawaii Prep had one simple goal for its football game against Konawaena on Saturday: create pressure.
Mission accomplished, but Lii Karratti handled that pressure better than Ka Makani would have liked.
The junior passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns as Konawaena remained undefeated in Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II play with a 43-0 victory over HPA.
Karratti completed just 13 of 27 passes, but several of those completions came in the face of heavy blitzes from Ka Makani (2-2 BIIF Division II, 2-4 overall) or on rollouts.
The junior countered HPA’s heavy pass rush with quick screen passes. On one of them, Karratti feathered a pass over Ka Makani lineman Eigoro Akai’s outstretched hands to senior running back John Kamoku, who turned and raced down the left sideline for a 57-yard touchdown pass that gave Konawaena (4-0, 6-1) a 14-0 lead with 5 minutes, 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
“(The touchdown to Kamoku) made them step back and think about blitzing,’’ Karratti said.
Karratti turned in two more big plays on rollouts, finding Chase Takaki inside the front, right pylon for a 24-yard touchdown that made it 21-0 in the first quarter and connecting with senior wideout Domonic Morris for a 33-yard reception that set up Bubba Ellis-Noa’s 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
With two HPA defenders bearing down on him with 3:31 left in the third quarter, Karratti lofted an off-balance throw for a 42-yard touchdown pass to Morris.
Running back Dishon Cho’s ensuing two-point conversion run made it 29-0.
“We wanted to put some pressure on them, and we did,’’ HPA coach Jordan Hayslip said. “But Karratti made some nice throws, and the receivers made some nice catches.
“He handles pressure well and does a good job of finding those open receivers.’’
One of those receivers, Morris, had two gains of 50 yards or more negated by penalties, but he finished with 117 yards on five receptions.
Kamoku helped set Morris’ touchdown reception on a fake punt, scrambling for 22 yards on a fourth-and-10 play despite rolling his ankle in the first half.
The senior, who also gained 48 yards on a fake punt in the second quarter, said the coaching staff allows him to read the defense and make fake punt decisions on the field — a responsibility he enjoys.
“It’s like I’m the captain, and I can take my team for a ride,’’ said Kamoku, who finished with 110 yards on 11 carries.
Konawaena relied heavily on Kamoku on its first drive, running five consecutive misdirection plays with the senior during a five-play, 55-yard drive.
“We wanted to go out there and catch them off-guard a little bit,’’ Wildcats coach Cliff Walters said. “We can’t go out and pass all the time.’’
HPA passed more than it had all season, with sophomore Koa Ellis completing 8 of 25 passes for 51 yards.
Behind Ellis and junior running back Bobby Lum, Ka Makani moved the ball inside the Wildcats’ 30-yard line three times in the first half. The three drives, however, resulted in a missed field goal and two turnovers on downs.
“(Konawaena) did a great job of toughening up,’’ Hayslip said. “I give credit to the defense.’’
Lum finished with 97 yards on 19 carries, but Konawaena’s defense didn’t allow any promising drives to HPA in the second half, giving up just 35 yards of offense after yielding 133 in the first half.
All five of Ka Makani’s second-half drives ended with punts. Konawaena defensive end Chayne Bohol recorded two sacks on third-down plays, and defensive tackle Kawika Kealoha added another.
“It took them a while to crank it up,’’ Walters said of the Wildcats’ defense. “They started to late in the first half, and they did a real good job in the second half.’’
Walters wants his team to carry over that defensive performance into next Saturday, when Konawaena faces Kamehameha-Hawaii in a game that will decide the BIIF Division II first-half title.
“This (game) will help prepare us for that,’’ Walters said.
Konawaena 21 0 15 7 — 43
HPA 0 0 0 0 — 0
Kon — John Kamoku 5 run (John Reglogle kick), 10:10
Kon — Kamoku 57 pass from Karratti (Replogle kick), 5:34
Kon — Chase Takaki 24 pass from Karratti (Replogle kick), 20.3
Kon — Domonic Morris 42 pass from Karratti (Dishon Cho run), 3:31
Kon — Cho 28 run (Replogle kick), 1:37
Kon — Bubba Ellis-Noa 4 run (Replogle kick), 7:18