By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Donovan Josue-Ma'a took the opening kickoff 73 yards, and from there Hilo High kept rolling, playing the type of physical football that must feel like a thousand punches to the body.
Even without much of a passing game (apparently a work in progress), the Vikings dominated Keaau 35-7 in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation Division I game Saturday at Wong Stadium, relying on a punishing ground game and ferocious defensive pressure.
Several plays after the return by Ma'a, quarterback Donavan Kelley threw an 18-yard touchdown strike to Hunter Macabio and from there the scoring avalanche kept rolling.
The Vikings (3-1 overall, 2-0 BIIF) scored two touchdowns in the first two quarters, spreading the scoring around.
A few possessions later, Kelley switched positions to receiver and caught a 9-yard touchdown from Sione Atuekaho. It was 14-0 after the first 12 minutes and Hilo was just getting started.
It was a long night, at least from a toe-to-toe competitive standpoint, for the Cougars (0-2, 0-2), who had the 35-point running clock going with almost two full quarters left.
The Vikings closed the second quarter with a scoring flurry. Aven Kualii ran for a 15-yard touchdown with about five minutes remaining until halftime. Then, two minutes later Atuekaho added his second touchdown, a 3-yard run.
If the two junior quarterbacks are time sharing the position or auditioning for the permanent job, both were productive despite low passing percentages. Kelley was 2 of 6 for 19 yards with a touchdown and interception. Atuekaho went 3 of 8 for 27 yards with a touchdown and pick. Each also rushed for a score.
In the third quarter, Kelley found a wide-open freeway down the right sideline and raced in for a 59-yard score. He rushed for 85 yards on six carries, sometimes running out of the slot; Atuekaho ran for 10 yards on two carries.
Tristin Spikes, a 5-foot-8, 175-pound junior, resembled a lightning bolt in the first half, zig-zagging all over the field for 164 yards on 11 carries, including a long of 40 yards. It was originally a 55-yard touchdown, but a 15-yard penalty nullified his score. In a bit of garbage time in the second half, he ran three times for zero yards.
On defense, senior Isi Holani showed why he landed on the All-BIIF first team at D-line last year. The 6-2, 275-pound senior harassed Keaau quarterback George Lucas-Tadeo, using a swim move to flash his technical skills, and a rip move (like an uppercut against an O-lineman's arm) to display his strength and speed.
Holani was the left tackle in a four-man front, rushing against Keaau's interior blockers, going through tough traffic, and visible to Lucas-Tadeo. When the scheme changed to a three-man front, he was the nose tackle and the Vikings unleashed linebackers to flood space. In either look, Holani was a force.
Hilo's big guy didn't get a sack; Lucas-Tadeo is a shifty scrambler with eyes in the back of his head. But all that pressure forced him into 8 of 26 passing for 60 yards and one interception. Most quarterbacks have a ticking clock in their head when to release the ball; the Viks stepped on that clock and smashed it.
The senior Keaau QB was the leading rusher with 40 yards on eight carries. All told, the Cougars finished with 57 yards on 23 carries, a 2.5 yard per attempt average. Holani and his tackling crew gave the visitors no room to run.
Meanwhile, Keaau's highlights were quite limited: nose tackle Zeph Pavao played fullback and plowed in for a 1-yard touchdown in the third quarter; Justin Quesada returned a kickoff 53 yards earlier in the third; Baylen Guerrero snagged his second pick of the season.
Keaau 0 0 7 0 — 7
Hilo 14 14 7 0 — 35
Hilo — Hunter Macabio 18 pass from Donavan Kelley (Rayce Takayesu kick), 10:13
Hilo — Kelley 9 pass from Sione Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 5:47
Hilo — Aven Kualii 15 run (Takayesu kick), 4:48
Hilo — Atuekaho 3 run (Takayesu kick), 2:10
Hilo — Kelley 59 run (Takayesu kick), 10:58
Kea — Zeph Pavao 1 run (Kiliona Pomroy kick), 4:12