By MATT GERHART
Tribune-Herald sports writer
HONOKAA — Kamehameha’s rushing offense looks to be on the road to recovery. If so, the Warriors will have something to complement their fast-track passing game.
Micah Kanehailua threw three touchdown passes to Alapaki Iaea on Friday night, and Kamehameha also dusted off its ground attack with Ina Teofilo running for 188 yards and a score during a 41-0 victory against Honokaa in the Big Island Interscholastic Federation.
“We had kind of given up on the run,” coach Dan Lyons said. “It was nice to be back to that.”
Kanehailua and Iaea hooked up on scoring passes of 34 yards and 46 yards in the first quarter, and Kaua Aganus returned a punt 38 yards for a touchdown for the Warriors (4-3, 3-2 BIIF), who outgained the Dragons 349-57 in total yards as they tuned up for a pivotal Division II game next week against Hawaii Prep.
“Our offense was hyped up,” Iaea said. “We’re ready for HPA.”
The Warriors and Ka Makani are locked into a matchup in the BIIF playoffs on either Oct. 18 or 19, but the winner of next Friday’s game in Keaau more than likely will be the No. 2 seed and host the semifinal.
Kamehameha’s defense sacked Nainoa Falk six times, forced three turnovers and held the Dragons to 15 yards rushing. Honokaa (0-6, 0-5) was shut out for the fourth consecutive week.
Besieged by injuries on the offensive line, the Warriors relied on their passing game the past two weeks in splitting against Kealakehe and Hilo. But the Warriors got a boost with the return of left tackle Pono Davis and a retooled line allowed Kamehameha to run for 229 yards.
“Big progress,” said Teofilo, who returned to his role as a workhorse with 26 carries after netting just 58 yards the past two weeks. “It was fun.”
Kanehailua finished 11 of 19 for 120 yards, attempting only two passes in the second half. The junior had a fourth would-be touchdown pass to Iaea called back by penalty.
Teofilo ripped off a 37-yard run on the opening drive of the game to set of Logan Uyetake’s 27-yard field, and then Kanehailua and Iaea went to work. Iaea beat his man one-on-one to get behind Honokaa’s defense for a 34-yard touchdown, and later in the first quarter the junior took a screen and raced 46 yards for the score.
Kanehailua hit Iaea for an 18-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
“We needed to make big plays, and we just came out and did it,” Iaea said. “They got me isolated on one side, and we took advantage. Micah knew I could beat my man.”
In the past three weeks, Kanehailua has thrown four touchdown passes apiece to wide receivers Iaea and Uyetake, and the trio has connected for 11 passing plays of 29 yards or more.
“When they double me, we go to (Uyetake),” Iaea said. “We’re just exploiting weaknesses.”
But the second half was more about the resurgence of the run.
Already leading 20-0 at the half, Timothy Burke picked off Falk on the first play of the third quarter to set Kamehameha up at the Dragons’ 32. The Warriors turned to Teofilo, who carried the ball on all six plays during the drive, capping it with a 1-yard touchdown run.
Kamehameha’s first nine offensive plays of the second half were Teofilo runs, including a 46-yarder.
“Plan was to keep running. Punching, punching, punching,” Teofilo said. “They were getting tired. We just kept hitting them with the run.”
Kamuela Kawamoto added 50 yards on six carries.
Falk, a sophomore thrown into full-time quarterbacking duties, was 6 of 18 for 42 yards and two interceptions. Malcom Baptiste also picked off a pass for Kamehameha.
Honokaa has injury woes of its own. The Dragons were forced to start four freshmen on the offensive line, and they also were missing junior Sione Epenesa and senior Wayne Vaoga. Both took snaps at quarterback earlier this season and had been counted on to be the heart and soul of the team on both sides of the ball.
“We’re getting better, that’s a positive,” coach Bobby Embernate said. “Nainoa is coming around. It’s about getting the reps.”
Kamehameha 17 3 7 14 —41
Honokaa 0 0 0 0 — 0
Kam — FG Logan Uyetake 27, 7:09
Kam — Alapaki Iaea 34 pass from Micah Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 7:09
Kam —Iaea 46 pass from Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 1:40
Kam — FG Uyetake 38, 3:22
Kam — Ina Teofilo 1 run (Uyetake kick), 10:00
Kam —Iaea 18 pass from Kanehailua (Uyetake kick), 10:29
Kam — Kaua Aganus 38 punt return (Uyetake kick), 8:35