By MATT GERHART
Stephens Media Hawaii
KEALAKEKUA – Konawaena’s plan was to work on its running game.
But there was simply no time for that, not with the way that the Wildcats’ quick-strike offense was humming along.
Brandon Howes’ touchdown passes of 54, 66 and 30 yards each highlighted one-play scoring drives Friday night, and the senior also ran for a score as Kona beat Keaau 42-14 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation football game.
“The offense is designed to score quickly, by the run or by the pass,” coach Cliff Walters said. “The intent was to run more, but we scored so quickly by the pass and we got up so fast. Once we made adjustments, we started to click.”
Howes finished 11 of 17 for 246 yards, with all but 16 of those yards coming in the first half as Konawaena (4-1, 3-0 BIIF Division II) cruised to a 35-0 lead at halftime.
For the second consecutive week, the Wildcats jumped out early and played to a running second-half clock on their home field.
Two-time defending Division II champion Konawaena was coming off a 45-0 victory against Honokaa and has outscored its three regular-season opponents by a combined 124-17.
“I can’t even keep track of how fast (the clock's) been going,” said receiver Cameron Howes, who hauled in two touchdown catches. “We’re just having so much fun out here.”
Chase Takaki also had two touchdown receptions, finishing with four catches for 119 yards.
The Wildcats don’t waste any time no matter who the quarterback is. After the Cougars (0-3, 0-3 BIIF Division) turned over the ball over on downs to start the second half, Shelton Grace took the reins at quarterback, and on the first play he promptly fired a 39-yard pass that Takaki caught in stride while crossing the end zone
“It was supposed to be a short pass, but he drops back, sees his buddy and, ‘Oh gosh, here we go.”
If there was any drama to be had at Julian R. Yates Field, it came after Keaau’s George Lucas-Tadeo ripped off a 44-yard run midway through the second half to set up Keaau with a first-and-goal at the 4 with the Cougars trailing 14-0.
But on the next play, linebacker Koa Basque read screen and intercepted a Lucas-Tadeo pass and returned it 42 yards to set up Konawaena up at its 44.
Brandon Howes marched the Wildcats down the field in seven plays, and Makoa Chapa scored from a yard out.
Basque finished with seven tackles and sack for a Konawaena defense that hasn’t missed a beat this season despite having to replace eight starters.
“We like to be the heart of the team,” Basque said of a fierce linebacking unit that also includes Bubba Ellis-Noa and Evyn Yamaguchi. “We’re better than last year. We’re more aggressive and we play as a unit. When it comes down to it, we dig deep.”
Konawaena’s most sustained drive of the game came after the opening kickoff. The Wildcats converted on four third-down conversions, with Howes scampering in from 12 yards out to cap a 12-play drive.
But quick strikes were the rule of the night.
After Keaau went three-and-out on its first possession, Howes found his brother, Cameron, on a corner route, for a 54-yard scoring strike.
Up 21-0, Konawaena took over in its own territory late in the second quarter, and Takaki came back to catch a pass near midfield then split two defenders down the center of the field on a play that covered 66 yards.
And as Keaau went for broke, the Wildcats went for the jugular.
Down 28-0, the Cougars’ fake punt failed, and Howes’ response was a 30-yard touchdown pass to his brother on a busted coverage.
The brothers transferred to Konawaena last spring after playing for Kamehameha last season.
. “We‘ve really grown toward each other since we came on this team,” Cameron Howes said. “We’ve just been clicking ever since.”
Lucas-Tadeo engineered two scoring drives in the second half against Konawaena’s second-string defense and finished 13 of 29 for 95 yards and added 83 yards on the ground.
He ran in from 10 yards out to cap a 92-yard drive early in the fourth quarter, and Kahuhipa Donner added a 35-yard touchdown run.
Keaau 0 0 0 14 -- 14
Konawaena 14 21 7 0 – 42
Kona – Brandon Howes 12 run (John Replogle kick), 7:52
Kona – Cameron Howes 54 pass from Brandon Howes (Replogle kick), 6:02
Kona – Makoa Chapa 1 run (Replogle kick), 4:32
Kona – Chase Takaki 66 pass from Brandon Howes (Replogle kick), 2:35
Kona – Cameron Howes 30 pass from Brandon Howes (Replogle kick), 1:17
Kona – Takaki 39 pass from Shelton Grace (Replogle kick), 8:30
Keaau – George Lucas-Tadeo 10 run (kick failed), 11:45
Keaau – Kahuhipa Donner 35 run (Byron Cachola pass from Lucas-Tadeo), 1:21