By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
KEAAU — Konawaena didn’t need a 14-point cushion to capture its second straight Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division II football championship.
John Kamoku ran roughshod for 231 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries to power the Wildcats over Kamehameha 32-28 on Friday night at a packed Pai‘ea Stadium.
The Wildcats took the overall BIIF championship outright, beating the Warriors twice, including 16-3 in the first round at Julian Yates Field.
Neither home-field advantage nor the school’s first homecoming helped the Warriors (7-3 BIIF Division II, 10-3), who committed seven turnovers. The Wildcats (9-1, 9-4) had just three turnovers.
Kamoku also scored on a 15-yard screen pass from junior quarterback Lii Karratti, who was 6 of 18 for 89 yards. He threw two interceptions and finished his BIIF season with big numbers: 41 touchdowns and seven picks.
Kamoku, a senior running back, also added to his BIIF totals: 1,074 rushing yards on 106 carries. Kenan Gaspar was a favorite Karratti target. He caught five balls for 77 yards.
Kamehameha’s Micah Kanehailua had a rough night. The sophomore quarterback was 13 of 21 for 256 yards with three touchdowns, but four interceptions. Ina Teofilo ran for 122 yards on 23 carries.
The first half was filled with turnovers and frustration for the Warriors, who had five turnovers (three Kanehailua picks and two Teofilo fumbles); the Wildcats had two turnovers (two Karratti interceptions).
Kamehameha was rather lucky to be trailing just 18-14 at halftime. Kona scored only once off a turnover, capitalizing when Karratti bulldozed in from a yard out for a 12-7 lead in the second quarter.
On the ensuing series, the Warriors took a 14-12 lead after Teofilo ran for a 12-yard touchdown, with all five plays on the ground.
The Wildcats immediately answered with a nine-play, scoring drive, sticking to a wildcat offense with direct snaps to Kamoku, who ran six times and plunged in from 3 yards out for an 18-14 lead.
In the first quarter, the Warriors got off on the wrong foot with Teofilo fumbling on the first snap of the game.
Kona eventually drove to the 1-yard line, but despite a golden red-zone scoring opportunity turned the ball over.
Kamehameha cornerback Kaua Aganus made two key defensive plays. First, on third-and-goal from the 1, Karratti ran left on the bootleg, but Aganus maintained his gap responsibility and tackled him for a 1-yard loss. On the next play, Aganus picked Karratti off.
The Warriors looked smooth, scoring on a six-play drive that featured a pair of long passing strikes from Kanehailua to Kama Vincent (27 and 30 yards) in one-on-one coverage. Kanehailua fired a quick slant to Shaun Kagawa, who raced to the end zone from 31 yards out.
That 7-0 lead disappeared on the first play from scrimmage, when the Warriors packed the middle for a run blitz and Kamoku bounced to the left side of the line, walled off by a green and white shirts, and zipped in for a 69-yard TD.
From there that point, Kona adjusted its coverage, dropping two safeties deep. Kanehailua went 5 of 11 for 118 yards and three interceptions in the first half.
Teofilo had a big first half with 108 yards on 18 carries, matched Kamoku, who rushed for 132 yards on 10 carries. Karratti went 2 of 8 for 32 yard with two picks in the first half.
Late in the second quarter, Kamehameha started from its 25, ran nine straight times to the Kona 4, but saw its drive stall with two incompletions, the second an interception by Domonic Morris. That run-heavy march drained more than four minutes, and came up empty.
In the second half, the clock became the Warriors’ enemy. But Kamoku kept poking the them in the ribs with key runs, including a 13-yard burst on fourth-and-12 on the third quarter’s first series.
He eventually scored on a 15-yard screen pass, making it 25-14, but Kamehameha scored three plays later when Kanehailua threw a 60-yard scoring strike to Kagawa.
In the fourth quarter, Kamehameha couldn’t stop Kona’s ground game, which reeled off 10 straight running plays, capped by Bubba Ellis-Noa’s 1-yard TD run.
It was 32-22 with 6:10 remaining, and after running seven times and passing just twice in the third quarter, the Warriors took to the air on their next drive.
Kanehailua put up the ball six times, and there were just two runs. But Domonic Morris snagged his third interception to stop that drive.
David Lopez caught a 12-yard touchdown to cap the scoring on a drive that featured five runs and just three passes.
In the junior varsity game, Kamehameha defeated Konawaena 26-24, stuffing a Wildcat two-point run attempt with 17 seconds left and recovering the onside kick.
Konawaena 6 12 7 7 — 32
Kamehameha 7 7 8 6 — 28
Kam — Shaun Kagawa 31 pass from Micah Kanehailua (Logan Uyetake kick), 6:00
Kona — John Kamoku 69 run (kick failed), 5:40
Kona —Lii Karratti 1 run (pass failed), 9:15
Kam — Ina Teofilo 12 run (Uyetake kick), 6:40
Kona — Kamoku 3 run (pass failed), 4:26
Kona — Kamoku 15 pass from Karratti (John Replogle kick), 7:51
Kam —Kagawa 60 pass from Kanehailua (Adri Castro pass from Kanehailua), 6:19
Kona — Bubba Ellis-Noa 1 run (Replogle kick), 6:10
Kam —David Lopez 12 pass from Kanehailua (pass failed), :10