By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU—Hilo football coach David Baldwin hardly had any time to reflect on his team’s dominating second half. Not with the steady stream of players from Kamehameha, his former team, coming over to congratulate him and exchange hugs.
“I love those kids,” Baldwin said of the Warriors at Paiea Stadium. “It felt familiar (being back). At the same time, I am where I’m supposed to be.”
And for the first time in many years, the Vikings are right where they want to be, too.
Quarterback Donavan Kelley ran for two scores and caught a touchdown pass Friday night, and Hilo pulled away by scoring 29 unanswered points to beat Kamehameha 36-10 to remain unbeaten in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
The Vikings (5-1, 4-0 BIIF Division I) were slowed by two first-half turnovers that squashed scoring chances, but Kelley scored on three straight possessions spanning the second and third quarters as Hilo grabbed command and outrushed the Warriors 339-13.
“Donavan is getting things done,” said junior running back Tristin Spikes, who atoned for a fumble at the Kamehameha 1 and led Hilo with 131 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown. “I’ve got to thank my quarterback. I’ve got to thank my line. Without them, I wouldn’t get as much.”
With Kelley taking most of the snaps and running the read option, the Vikings rolled up 238 yards on the ground in the second half. Kamehameha (3-3, 2-2 Division II) managed just 45 yards of total offense after it went to halftime trailing 14-10.
Kelly ran for 83 yards, scoring on touchdown runs of 20 and 9 yards in the third quarter, and caught three passes from Sione Atuekaho. Malu Lapilio added 74 yards, including 70 during a 90-yard drive that was capped by Kelley’s final touchdown.
“We’re at the point with this team that we understand that strength of will and determination goes a long way to influence the outcome of the game,” Baldwin said. “We stayed with our game plan, improved our execution and the second half was closer to what we thought it could be.”
Facing an injury-ravaged Warriors offensive line that was missing several starters, Hilo’s defense sacked quarterback Micah Kanehailua eight times and forced three turnovers.
Isi Holani had a big hand in the defense’s stingy effort, and he got a hand on a punt to create dream scenario for a lineman.
After Hilo held on the game’s opening possession, Holani busted through the middle of the line to block Kamuela Kawamoto’s punt. Then, just as assistant coach Ta’i Tupa’i — a former defensive lineman at Washington State — teaches all his players who get a rare chance at glory, instead of just falling on the ball, or, worse yet, kicking it, Holani scooped it at around the 18 and scored his first career touchdown.
“I wasn’t really expecting to block it,” Holani said. “When I saw it rolling, it just happened.”
Kamehameha standout running back Ina Teofilo ran the ball just eight times for 19 yards as the Warriors largely abandoned the ground game. Kanehailua was 18 of 33 for 224 yards, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Logan Uyetake, with two interceptions. Only 18 of his passing yards came in the second half as Hilo controlled time of possession.
“With the situation with our line, we’re really not in the position to be able to run,” Kamehameha coach Dan Lyons said. “So passing was where we were going to go with it.
“(Hilo is) tough and just keeps coming at you.”
Uyetake caught seven passes for 105 yards and has four touchdowns in his past two games, while Alapaki Iaea caught six balls for 55 yards.
“Guys were open and we’re just going to get better and keep working at it,” Lyons said.
Kaua Aganus picked off an Atuekaho pass in the second quarter, and Kamehameha looked poised to score a touchdown when, with the help of a 39-yard pass play from Kanehailua to Uyetake and a 13-yard run by Kawamoto on a bad snap on a field-goal attempt, it set up shop with a first and goal at the 4. But Hilo’s defense held six times — Kamehameha got a first down after a Hilo personal foul on Uyetake’s missed 22-yard field-goal try — and the Warriors had to settle for an 18-yard Uyetake field goal and 10-7 lead.
The Vikings took over from there.
After a would-be Kamehameha interception was ruled a trap, Spikes ran for 7 yards on fourth-and-4 and Atuekaho scampered 14 yards then found Kelley for a 17-yard score late in the first half. Atuekaho finished 4 of 9 for 43 yards.
In search of its first BIIF title since 2003, Hilo welcomes Kealakehe, which has won seven titles since 2004, to Wong Stadium next Saturday as the Vikings try to put further distance between themselves and the rest of D-I before the playoffs.
It’s a far cry from the winless season that Hilo endured in 2011, a year before Baldwin took over. In 2010, he guided Kamehameha to the Division II title.
“It feels good to go from an 0-10 record to this,” Spikes said.
Hilo 7 7 12 10—36
Kamehameha 0 10 0 0 — 0
Hilo — Isi Holani 18 return of punt block (Rayce Takayesu kick), 9:50
Kam — Logan Uyetake 30 pass from Micah Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 10:28
Kam — FG Uyetake 18, 3:07
Hilo — Donavan Kelley 17 pass from Sione Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 9:03
Hilo — Kelley 20 run (kick failed), 9:03
Hilo — Kelley run (pass failed), 2:29
Hilo — Tristin Spikes 11 run (Takayesu kick), 6:07
Hilo — FG Takayesu 30. 3:53