By KEVIN JAKAHI
Tribune-Herald sports writer
Throw a stat in a hat and you can't go wrong picking a Hilo High star. It was that kind of night. The defense dominated and the offense flashed its firepower.
The Vikings won big, 43-0, over a winless Honokaa football team that couldn't manage much in a Big Island Interscholastic Federation game on Saturday night at Wong Stadium.
A crowd of about 400, almost half from Honokaa, saw the Vikings (4-1 overall, 3-0 BIIF) control play on both sides of the ball, but also struggle mightily with penalties.
In the spirit of ending things on a good note. The bad news first: Hilo was flagged 11 times for nearly 100 yards, including several of the unwanted personal foul penalties.
The Dragons (0-4, 0-3) drew five flags for 25 yards, but all Hilo's help with yards going their way didn't lead to any scores. That's because their run game kept hitting a huge Viking blue-and-gold wall.
Honokaa finished with 34 yards on 24 carries. Sophomore quarterback Nainoa Falk was 7 of 21 for 75 yards and two interceptions. He also got sacked five times.
Hilo senior terror Isi Holani had three sacks, all in the first half and pretty much called it a night in the second half. John Salzman had one, and Makana Josue-Maa and Phillip Kapaona sandwiched Falk and shared a sack.
More good news came courtesy of Hilo's secondary. Faa Fuiava reeled in two picks and Tyler Mahoe had an interception. Honokaa's Makana Ibanez was 0 for 2 with an interception after relieving Falk for a series.
On the other side of the ball, Hilo sparkplug Donavan Kelley showed why he landed on the All-BIIF first team at wide receiver, and honorable mention at running back last year as a sophomore.
He's an elusive, speedy two-way threat. The 5-foot-7, 170-pound junior rushed for 107 yards on only four carries, scoring touchdown runs of 42 and 51 yards. Maybe Kelley gets All-BIIF awards again with the running back portion highlighted. He went 0 for 1, ran one long TD from the QB spot, but played mostly in the slot.
Not to be outdone, Tristin Spikes added 75 yards on nine carries, scoring twice — once on a 49-yard pass from Sione Atuekaho and a 6-yard run in the third quarter. After the latter touchdown, Kelley threw a two-point pass to Holani, entertaining the crowd with a bit of trickeration on a fake kick.
Atuekaho was 4 of 11 for 120 yards with three touchdowns and a pick, but all four completions went to different receivers. Even better, three were scoring strikes: Spikes' TD in the first quarter, 37 yards to Shelton Lerma in the second quarter, followed by 22 yards to Aven Kualii three minutes later.
The game was delayed for 20 minutes with an injury to Honokaa senior Sione Epenesa, who was taken off the field by ambulance. The running back was tackled and at the bottom of a pile-up. His father Lala Epenesa, also a Honokaa assistant coach, said Wednesday that his son tweaked a nerve in his neck and is fine. (A story on Sione Epenesa will run in Friday's edition.)
Epenesa snagged an interception, one of Hilo's two turnovers. The Dragons committed three turnovers, and two were recycled into Viking touchdowns: Kelley's 42-yard run and Kualii's 22-yard catch.
Also, any time Honokaa gave Hilo a short field either with a meager punt or a failed fourth-down play, the Vikings welcomed those gifts with open arms and scored.
In the first quarter, after a 19-yard punt, the ball was at Honokaa's 41 and on the next play Spikes caught his 49-yard touchdown pass.
After the Dragons failed on a fourth-and-long fake punt, Hilo took over at Honokaa 37 and on the next play Lerma caught his 37-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for a 21-0 cushion.
Later in the second quarter, it was 3 for 3 time. Honokaa went for it on fourth down, didn't make it and Hilo got the ball at its 49-yard line. The song called, "Next play, big play TD," was rocking again. Kelley sung it to the tune of his brilliant 51-yard run for a 35-0 cushion, to get the non-stop mercy-rule clock rolling in the second half
The only other bummer of bad news, besides all those flags, was a missed scoring opportunity. After Spikes zipped in for his second touchdown in the third quarter for a 43-0 advantage, on the next series Isaiah Young intercepted a pass.
The Hilo junior raced into the end zone for a 43-yard interception return. Young looked as if he just won a million bucks. It's not every day that defensive guys score touchdowns and get their stats thrown into a grab-a-star hat.
But alas, his celebration was short-lived. The touchdown was called back because of penalty, one of Hilo's 11 flags on a dominant night.
Honokaa 0 0 0 0 — 0
Hilo 14 21 8 0 — 43
Hilo — Tristin Spikes 49 pass from Sione Atuekaho (Rayce Takayesu kick), 7:42
Hilo — Donavan Kelley 42 run (Takayesu kick), 2:07
Hilo — Shelton Lerma 37 pass from Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 10:16
Hilo — Aven Kualii 22 pass from Atuekaho (Takayesu kick), 6:53
Hilo — Kelley 51 run (Takayesu kick), 1:31
Hilo — Spikes 6 run (Isi Holani pass from Kelley), 10:14